Online Ph.D. Programs in International Business

Degree Options & Potential Careers

An online Ph.D. program in international business prepares graduates to teach the next generation of business professionals, or conduct advanced studies in an area of the business industry. The best candidates should hold a relevant degree in business, finance, or economics. They should also possess extensive experience in the field, especially if they do not hold a master's degree. While salaries vary by position, experience, and location, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that jobs for international business professionals are projected to increase faster than the national average. For instance, the demand for postsecondary educators should increase by 15% through 2026.

Should I Earn an Online Ph.D. in International Business?

Online Ph.D. programs in international business require high levels of commitment, discipline, and self-motivation. These programs push students to reach their highest level of performance and typically demand more time to complete than preceding degrees. As a result, prospective students should be clear about their personal and professional reasons for earning a Ph.D.

Graduates of an online Ph.D. in international business are considered subject-matter experts in their field and possess high-level research skills. Their research may lead to cutting-edge developments that benefit their career and the field as a whole. Furthermore, professionals who excel in research can create opportunities to study topics that interest most them, obtain grants from supporting organizations, and qualify for careers in academia at leading institutions with ample resources.

A career in international business can be dynamic, complex, and lucrative, and entering the field with a Ph.D. can give you an advantage in a highly competitive job market. Holding a terminal degree also means professionals can negotiate a higher salary, which makes this degree a great return on a student's investment.

In addition to becoming subject matter experts in the discipline, a Ph.D. develops students' personal and interpersonal abilities, which can transfer to multiple practical situations in life. For instance, to successfully complete a Ph.D., students must master skills such as:

  • Personal effectiveness
  • Stress management
  • Time management
  • Project management
  • Organization
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving

To master each of these skills, students must also demonstrate tenacity, discipline, and focus. While students directly benefit from this experience, employers also value and seek the skillsets students acquire in a Ph.D. program.

What Can I Do With an Online Ph.D. in International Business?

Online Ph.D. programs in international business create opportunities in nearly every field. In fact, the federal government constantly recruits subject-matter experts who not only understand business, but also possess global awareness and cultural sensitivity. For example, federal international trade specialists work to make business transactions successful abroad, while private corporations rely on international business relationships. These organizations value professionals who can handle expatriate assignments, ensure ethical conduct, and improve social workforce conditions.

The U.S. is also home to hundreds of international nonprofit organizations that require high functioning business professionals to fill roles in management and leadership. BLS data indicates that top executive roles in the U.S. are projected to remain steady, with projected growth rates at the national average through 2026. Nonprofit international business professionals reinforce relationships, maintain appropriate business practices, and improve efficiency.

As elite members of the international business industry, Ph.D. holders often work at colleges and universities preparing the next generation of business professionals. BLS data indicates this field is projected to expand much faster than the national average -- nearly 15% through 2026. These professionals also participate in research projects, and develop solutions to modern issues in international business. Research findings may also lead to program development, where professionals collaborate with other instructors to design new courses.

While professionals may certainly work for organizations across multiple industries, online Ph.D. programs in international business provide graduates with a reputable credential that can lead to self-employment. In fact, many professionals use their experience to provide consultation services to organizations. This route creates significant career flexibility and allows professionals to determine their own salary. International business consultants typically choose a niche area, such as management analysis or market research analysis. Candidates should conduct additional research for any other fields that may be of interest. The list below includes five potential career titles.

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers create instructional plans for specific courses that meet departmental expectations, administer exams, and grade student work. Instructors may also collaborate with colleagues to develop new programs and curriculum. To teach courses beyond entry level general education coursework, colleges and universities require candidates to hold a doctoral degree in the field they wish to teach.


Economists research current issues, collect data, create and conduct surveys, recommend solutions, and advise organizations on economic matters. These professionals also examine historical trends to develop forecasts. Most economists work for federal or scientific research organizations. Employers accept candidates with a master's degree or a Ph.D.


Statisticians use statistical models to synthesize data, and identify trends and connections between data. This role often requires collaboration with professionals in other departments. Common professional environments include government agencies or universities. Employers accept candidates with a master's degree, while the best applicants hold a Ph.D.

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers examine background research, select survey methods, design surveys, coordinate interviews, and analyze data. These professionals also condense research into meaningful presentations organizations can use to improve. While tasks often require interacting with incumbents and focus groups, these professionals also work independently. Employers require candidates to hold a master's degree or a Ph.D.

Federal Policy Analysts

Federal policy analysts often work for government offices to influence decisions at the social and political level. These professionals collect data, analyze policies, and evaluate the impact of potential policies. While this role does require collaboration with stakeholders, federal policy analysts often conduct independent research. Ideal candidates hold a Ph.D.

International Business Ph.D. Program Overview

Earning an elite international business degree requires significant research to determine which online Ph.D. program can meet your personal and professional goals. Many programs in international business offer multiple program formats, which can also lead to different program outcomes. Therefore, students should carefully review course options prior to applying. Additionally, the application process for a Ph.D. program requires steps that both bachelor's and master's programs do not include. The following four sections review core application and program components students should know.

Types of Doctoral Degrees in International Business

Students interested in online doctoral programs in international business have the choice of two educational pathways. Therefore, applicants should understand the difference between the programs to determine the most suitable option.

A Ph.D. remains a worldwide recognized degree that emphasizes scientific research. Ph.D. programs are also considered the traditional route for graduates to become professors at colleges and universities. However, professionals may also work in research labs. These programs require students to be innovative and creative, as learners develop new theories or approaches to pre-established theories.

In contrast, students may also earn a doctor of business administration (DBA) with a concentration in international business. This is a relatively new educational path that represents the most elite postgraduate degree in academic management. While programs cover topics such as research techniques, diplomacy, and economics, a DBA also prioritizes high-level management skills. DBA programs emphasize practical research to address modern issues and concerns of industry and economy. In fact, DBA programs also require students to use their research skills to develop solutions. Therefore, graduates often enter applied international business careers and work for an organization, while others pursue careers as consultants.

On average, both a Ph.D. in international business and a DBA with a concentration in international business requires about 3-4 years to complete full-time. Many programs offer part-time options, which may extend the length of the program by 1-2 years. However, depending on the learner's circumstances, schools often allow students up to eight years to complete their program.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

Applying for an online Ph.D. program in international business requires a different process than most bachelor's or master's programs. For instance, the Ph.D. application includes a research proposal that demonstrates a student's expertise and plan of action. Therefore, an important initial step also includes examining the research interests of faculty who would support a student's research goals and act as advisors or mentors. Ph.D. applications also typically require a letter of motivation that expresses a learner's determination and interest in the program.

Universities also want to view an applicant's prior accomplishments. Students should expect to provide official transcripts from all completed postsecondary programs, as well as a professional resume that outlines publications, awards, research experience, and work experience. Programs also require letters of recommendation from advisors or supervisors who can attest to an applicant's work ethic and academic prowess. Students should also note that certain schools may require an entrance exam.


The structure and curriculum of an online Ph.D. program in international business varies from school to school. However, this section provides an overview of what students can generally expect. For instance, accelerated Ph.D. programs allow students to complete their degree in three years, but may only accept students who hold a master's degree. This allows students to bypass certain foundational courses and focus on dissertation requirements.

The first two years of full-length programs require coursework that precedes the dissertation portion of the program. These initial courses often explore research methods, important theories, and modern dilemmas. Students complete research papers, baseline research projects, field requirements, and qualifying exams. Some programs may also require a certain amount of elective credits. For example, DBA programs that offer a concentration in international business may emphasize management courses.

Once students complete preliminary coursework, students may engage in directed reading and research prior to entering the dissertation portion of the program. The dissertation phase of a Ph.D. program requires original research. At the end of the program, students participate in an oral examination before a committee.

While specific courses may vary, students can anticipate coursework in some of the following areas:

This course examines regression methods used to analyze economic data. Students develop techniques to address statistical issues with economic data. Course outcomes include writing code, analyzing data, and testing hypotheses.
International Economics
This course explores advanced aspects of international finance and open-economy monetary economics. Students compare alternative theories, estimate preferential trade agreements, and analyze national payment balances.
Advanced finance develops critical analysis, evaluation, and research skills in corporate finance. Students use empirical studies to determine the best theoretical tools.
Empirical Political Analysis
Students learn to formulate questions and develop theories for questions regarding modern issues. Students must apply empirical techniques to determine the validity of selected theories.
Systematic Inquiry
This course emphasizes relationships among quantified variables. Systematic inquiry provides an in-depth examination about how to conduct research. Students must select techniques that help to ensure data quality.
International Trade Theory
In international trade theory, students explore the basis and effects of trade. This course also examines the impact of public policy and modern issues that impede trade.
Knowledge and Innovation in the International Economy
Students examine theoretical models of innovation and invention. Topics include intellectual property, entrepreneurship, patent licensing, standard setting organizations. This course also explores theoretical models such as industrial organization and contract theory.
Methods of Demographic Analysis
Students explore categorical analysis used for demographic data, including quantitative analysis and ordinary linear regression models. Other topics include survival models without covariates, standardization, and decomposition analysis.

Program Outcomes

Online Ph.D. programs in international business gives graduates an advantage in a competitive job market. While graduates often enter academia after graduating, these programs develop elite methodological, conceptual, and quantitative skills that allow graduates to conduct meaningful empirical research. Ph.D. programs in international business also emphasize pertinent global business courses such as international trade or cross cultural management.

International business professionals interact with organizations and individuals all over the globe. Therefore, the best Ph.D. programs ensure students develop a strong global mindset by examining ethical practices and cultural sensitivity. Other skills include analytical thinking and advanced problem-solving, as daily responsibilities often include managing modern problems in the field.

Additionally, Ph.D. programs help students reach an advanced level of essential skills. For instance, these programs require intensive written communication, public speaking, project management, and leadership. Employers value employees who can take initiative and ensure that work gets completed both on-time and correctly.

Accreditation for Online International Business Ph.D. Programs

Accreditation is a formal indicator that a school or university holds to rigorous academic standards. Students should look for national or regional accreditation. National accrediting agencies work with schools across the country, however over 85% of schools in the U.S. hold regional accreditation from one of six regional accrediting agencies.

Students pursuing online Ph.D. programs in international business should carefully consider programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.