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What is International Business?
International business is the field that allows for commerce between nations, it is the understanding of laws and practices, as well as customs, that facilitates trade. Individuals in the field of international business play a role in the development of business relations between companies separated by country, learn the laws that govern these companies, work toward accommodating and easing the transition into new markets for growing companies, and spearhead campaigns to introduce goods into new markets with respect to cultural and social norms within a given society.
There are a variety of degrees offered, with varying specializations, but all focus on the process of doing business in a foreign country, either through operation or cooperation. Those seeking an associate's degree will typically do so in order expand their knowledge base and assist in their current business or job. Higher levels of education will offer more opportunities, including foreign job placement or multinational managerial positions. Some schools will encourage studying abroad for a year in order to acclimate the potential graduate with foreign environments.
The goal of an international business program is to make one understand cultural differences and to work through obstacles presented by those differences in order to successfully market goods or services. As such a variety of courses will be taken in order to introduce the student to the problems he or she will be tackling
These courses may include:
- International Marketing
- Financial Accounting
- Principles of Importing and Exporting
- International Economics
- A Second Language
How Many Years Does It Take to Obtain a College Degree in International Business?
The length of time it takes to earn a college degree in international business depends on the program you enroll in, the school, and the number of credits you take at a given time. For a full-time student attending class onsite or online, a student can expect to earn an international business degree in:
- Certificate: Both graduate and undergraduate certificate programs are designed to be completed in less than a year, in most cases.
- Associate’s Degree: An associate degree in international business can be completed in 2 years.
- Bachelor Degree: The bachelor degree program in international business is constructed to be a 4-year program.
- Master Degree: The master’s degree track in international business is an additional 1-2 years beyond the traditional bachelor degree program.
- Doctorate Degree: A doctorate degree is a 1-3 program beyond a master’s degree dependent on whether the programs are taken end-to-end or concurrently.
Certificate Programs in International Business
A certificate program in international business is an entry-point for students to learn the basics about working overseas. Many certificate programs are between 18-21 credits and focus on the business essentials and no general education courses. The essentials of a certificate program may include classes such as:
- Management Principles
- International Relations
- Global Industries & Business Operations
- Export and Import Management Strategies
- International Market Integration
- Trade Agreements
- Contemporary Issues in International Business
Associate Degrees in International Business
An associate degree program in international business offers students general education courses and core business classes in this two-year program. An associate degree involves students in integrative thinking with philosophy, communications, psychology, and sociology type courses plus deeper core business programs than a certificate program offers. Whether in class or online, students working towards an associate degree will learn business principles of law, ethics, accounting, communications, and statistics. Coupling these classes with decision making skills, students will be better equipped to evaluate and synthesize new information from a business context.
Bachelor’s Degrees in International Business
The most popular and widely accepted international business degree is the bachelor degree. The three most well-known bachelor degrees in the business community are:
- BSIB – Bachelor of Science in International Business: The BSIB emphasizes export and import policies of companies along with trade controls and banking regulations.
- BBA – Bachelor of Business Administration: The Bachelor of Business Administration degree is the most common degree to prepare students for international finance, trade, and business.
- BSBA – Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – The BSBA focuses on global diversity coupled with business principles of marketing, law, management, and communication.
The bachelor degree program offers students a dynamic platform to take advantage of a variety of opportunities in international business. Roles will vary from student to student within private organizations, public companies, and non-profit entities around the globe. Likewise, the variation in job functions for a business major range from analyst to human resources to marketing manager. The opportunities for a career in international business will depend on your experience and passion coupled with the industry and sector in which you are employed.
Specialty degrees in the bachelor degree track are very common. If you know the area of study you wish to pursue after graduation, it can help a great deal to specialize in a particular field during college. This will provide more precise information about a business discipline and help you land a job during or after college as you launch your career. Examples of specialties within the bachelor degree in business include tracks such as:
- Digital Marketing
- Global Supply Chain Management & Logistics
- Healthcare Management
- Sustainable Management
- Financial Planning
- Marketing Analytics
- Strategic Marketing
- Public Administration
- Sales Management
- Project Management
Master Degrees in International Business
A master’s degree in international business is commonly known as an MBA or Master of Business Administration. An MBA is a highly-respected degree in the business community reflecting the focus and commitment to hone your craft in a specific business trade. As a highly transferrable business degree, an MBA will take students one to two years to complete depending on the program and number of credits taken.
Additionally, the lesser-known Master’s Degree in International Management (MIM) degree focuses on international issues for business professionals poised to tackle global issues while contributing to government agencies and corporations. Both MBA and MIM programs are designed to provide students with core courses, specialization courses, and a capstone course as part of the program. Upper level core courses as part of the master degree program in international business include the following types of classes:
- Business Essentials
- Business Information Systems
- Business Performance
- Marketing for Competitiveness
- Accounting for Management Decision Making
- Global Business Applications & Case Studies
- Sustainable Business Theories and Practice
- Managerial Finance
Doctorate Degrees in International Business
A doctorate degree in business is known as a DBA or Doctor of Business Administration or a PhD in Management. Candidates considering this academic track are often focused on growing a career in research, teaching, and consulting roles. Many schools will require applicants to the DBA program to have substantive work experience plus evident skills learned while in a master’s degree program. Like an MBA program, students in the DBA program will select an area of specialty offered by the school to help prepare them for opportunities after graduation. Doctorate degrees in international business include the following areas of specialty:
- Energy Management
- Global Supply Management
- Healthcare Management
- Human Resources
- Homeland Security
- Project Management
What is International Business Degree About?
The crux of an international business degree is about learning to successfully do business in a foreign country to meet business quantifiable objectives. These objectives may be a combination of monetary objectives, market share, global exposure, human capital, employment, stock price, political benefits, and long-term growth stratagem. The core skills any student will need to learn as it relates to international business include awareness, communication, and data.
In terms of awareness, professionals working with other business professionals must have an acute awareness of other cultures. They must also be keenly in tune with national news, powerful figures, and trade policies. Lastly, an awareness of international politics tie together the key components of awareness to help businesses achieve lasting success overseas.
With any business relationship or transaction, timely and effective communication is essential. When working with international partners in business, professionals must be clear about objectives, trustworthy, and persuasive. Business professionals must learn networking and public speaking as they take greater degrees of responsibilities in an organization. The final pieces of communication include a high degree of diplomacy skills and negotiating know-how.
The final piece of the core skills required for an international business major to navigate the multi-varied business landscape resides in data. Graduates must wade through data to assess unstructured and complex data in order to accurately assess viability and risk of a deal or project.
What Jobs Exist for International Business Majors?
A student earning a college degree in international business will be uniquely equipped to navigate the ever-evolving business landscape as it relates to domestic and international concerns. Students earning an international business degree will help support the following business objectives of a company:
- Coordination of human resources including labor, services, and intellectual capital
- Organize materials for projects and jobs overseas
- Navigate cultural norms from region to region
- Establish solid relationships with business partners residing outside the country
- Adopting management and leadership methodology relevant to a foreign environment
- Skills and knowledge to competently work for international divisions of corporations based in the United States
- Knowledge to work for and with international government agencies
- Political intelligence to help establish an international presence
- Business moxie to help improve trade relations
- Academic heft to launch a career in international banking, commercial banking, and investment banking
Largest Employers of International Business Majors
- Government Agencies – examples include the US Department of Treasury, the US Department of Commerce, and the US Department of State.
- International Banks – samples like Export-Import Bank, International Finance Corporation, Barclays Capital, World Bank, and HSBC.
- Foreign Companies Operating in the United States – companies like BP, Shell, Honda, Toyota, ING, Nestle, AXA Group, Food Lion, and BASF.
- Multinational Organizations – examples include Goldman Sachs, Disney, Hilton, Viacom, Coca-Cola, Roche, Accenture, and Cisco.
- Nonprofit Organizations – global companies include Amnesty International, The Carter Center, CLASP, Doctor to Doctor, Hearing Concern, Operation Smile, Project Hope, and Servas.
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Individuals seeking a career in international business will typically work within large corporations with operations in multiple countries, or cooperative agreements with foreign companies. International business students tend to focus on a country or region during their education, and as such are typically, but not necessarily, limited to the area of their expertise. Individuals will need to be able to navigate corporate environments, and it is often necessary to understand such environments for foreign branches or partners in order to avoid missteps and properly engage in their duties. Knowledge of a regions language, though not absolutely required, provides a large advantage for potential employees.
Additional Resources for International Business Majors
Below you will find a list of international organizations and associations with an emphasis in international business and international relations. While not an exhaustive list, the list provides the largest and most influential associations for you to research as it relates to your burgeoning career in business.
- World Trade Organization
- Bankers Association for Foreign Trade
- Emerging Markets Traders Association
- International Chamber of Commerce
- Federation of International Trade Associations
- International Association of Business Communicators
- International Trade Administration
- International Business Organization
- InterSol, Inc.
- National Council on International Trade Development
- World Technology Network
- Organization of Women in International Trade
- Small Business Exporters Association
- Coalition of Service Industries
- World Bank
- International Executives Association
- Washington International Trade Association
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Career growth in international business is expected to grow over the next decade as the lines the separate countries continue to blur economically, and burgeoning economies will seek out new markets and partners. As a result qualified individuals will most likely to be able to find work related to their studies, assuming they can demonstrate competency. International can be lucrative, especially in the emerging global economy. Graduates pursuing a career in international business can expect $60,000 per year depending on education and specialization, but have the potential to earn more based on success and experience.
Those interested in a degree in international business may also be interested in business administration, international marketing and international finance.