International Master of Business Administration degrees
As the economy becomes more globally interconnected, moving beyond the boundaries of interstate trade can help to explore opportunities with overseas companies. A global MBA can help you gain a better understanding of how different activities affect business markets — both in the U.S. and globally.
Succeeding in international business means understanding the diversity of global markets. You’ll need the ability to cope with rapid change and uncertainty due to the geopolitical aspects of technology, as well as international laws and regulations. Students in international MBA programs can deepen their knowledge of how to leverage the advantages of their home country when doing business with foreign entities.
What is an MBA in international business?
A global MBA differs from a traditional MBA in that it places a specialized focus on international businesses. Students take courses that build knowledge to help them obtain positions representing their company internationally.
Most programs focus on international business from a cultural perspective, understanding the risks associated with managing an international workforce. The skills you build while pursuing a global MBA could help you obtain positions in industries such as banking, technology, electronics, airlines, and shipping.
If you’re already a working professional with a bachelor’s degree, an international MBA could boost your earning potential. It could also be the key to helping you advance toward management or executive positions in an organization.
MBA programs focused on international business are often concentrated in the following areas:
MBA in international business
MBA in global business
What is the difference between an international MBA and an MBA?
MBA programs are like international MBA programs in that both help students gain an in-depth knowledge of management and business. However, the curriculum for an international MBA program focuses exclusively on business from a global perspective. With an MBA program, students may only take a few electives on international business tied to a specialization.
International MBA programs also offer students an opportunity to specialize their careers. Some areas of specialization include international finance, as well as corporate social responsibility in different cultures and global marketing. Many international MBA programs also require students to take part in travel programs to areas of international commerce such as Dubai, Germany, Seoul, London, and Shanghai.
One way international MBA graduates can distinguish themselves in their field is by obtaining a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) designation. Recognized around the world, it shows that the holder has proven themselves to be a credible global business professional. There are other certifications you may wish to pursue to strengthen your management credentials, including the PMP® Project Management Professional certification.
What type of knowledge can you gain with an international MBA?
International MBA programs typically teach students general management skills, reinforced by a core of international knowledge. You’ll do in-depth research on multinational issues and learn how to translate your business skills into different areas. They help you gain the knowledge needed to pursue management positions with companies that conduct business across continents.
A typical international MBA program requires students to complete courses covering the following core topics:
Global corporate governance
Global financial strategy
Global business strategy
Financial analysis and reporting
Information system management
Business analysis and decision-making
Ethics and social issues
If you’re just starting out in the field, completing your international MBA is a way of showing your current employer how serious you are about becoming the best in your profession. You also get a chance to do a more in-depth exploration of international business topics you might not have had an opportunity to get into while pursuing your bachelor’s degree.
Communication skills are essential, regardless of your position. It helps to know more than one language or at least have a basic understanding of the dialect of frequent international business partners. With emerging markets in Asia, South America, and the Middle East, it’s important that your ideas and strategies are clearly understood regardless of language boundaries.
Companies always want someone capable of guiding a global workforce toward meeting business goals.
Understand the impact of trade agreements
Demonstrate organizational leadership
Make sure business agreements conform to international law
Navigate cultural differences
Promote understanding and communication
Form partnerships with international business partners
Developing strong marketing skills could make you an asset to businesses looking to promote their products and services in new international markets.
Design culturally sensitive marketing campaigns
Connect your company to local social media outlets
Find new promotional channels
Communicate with customers
Coordinate with art directors and the sales department
Manage budgets for marketing expenditures
Gather marketing research
Create pricing strategies for products and services
You’ll apply your planning and organizational skills to help companies maximize efficiency in their operations sector in several ways, including
Data analytics to help solve business problems
Business development and partnerships across different company areas
Strategic insight to reduce expenses
Internal audits to help improve operational efficiency
Focusing on technology allows you to help your company stay competitive in an increasingly digital marketplace.
Apply UX (user experience) design principles for products
Manage data flow
Find IT solution opportunities
Resolve technical issues
Learn how to help companies manage their assets on a global scale.
Apply analytical skills
Analyze financial data to understand global trends
Review global financial records
Evaluate financial decisions
Review business and economic patterns
Make foreign investment recommendations
Typical concentrations and electives
Global supply chain management
Health care management
Try to find an international MBA program offering a curriculum that supports your overall career goals. However, don’t be afraid to try something that might be a little outside of your experience. It could open new doors for you down the road.
Choose your coursework wisely — it should map to your career goal to help increase your starting salary and job opportunities.
What’s the industry outlook for International MBA program graduates?
By choosing to pursue a career in international business, you open yourself up to a variety of opportunities. You could decide to work as a translator for a company or involve yourself in the financial side of international business dealings. A global MBA can make a big difference in your salary potential and career trajectory.
According to the Business School Hiring Report issued by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), MBA graduates had the potential to earn an average of $115,000 per year. Putting in the work to obtain a global MBA could pay off down the line when it comes to your future earnings.
Most international MBA programs provide you with the opportunity to explore the intricacies of different business cultures. They also tend to focus on learning about the policies of foreign governments, local customs of various countries, and international finances.
You’ll learn how to apply different management styles that allow you to get the most out of the workforce in any country. Those skills can easily transfer to other areas if you decide to move to a different position.
Some critical components of international business include the following areas:
Trade agreements between countries
International business law
International business finance
Forging international partnerships
International intellectual property rights
Import and export of goods
Overseas business operations investment
Graduates of an international MBA program can take advantage of numerous opportunities in different industries:
Management analysts earn an average of $85,260 annually
Sales agents for securities, commodities, and financial services earn an average of $62,270 annually
Translators and interpreters earn an average of $51,830 annually
Managers in advertising, promotions, and marketing earn an average of $135,900 annually
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a higher-than-average job growth outlook, especially for marketing, in many of these career paths. Your global MBA could help you move into a higher-paying field with long-term stability. Make sure you assess the depth of an international MBA’s curriculum when evaluating schools.
There is no one-size-fits-all model for a graduate education. Many programs come in various forms, each with its own benefits. Here are some of the most common questions you should ask when researching your international MBA:
No. Your diploma will have just the full program name featured just like any on-campus graduate.
How long will earning my MBA in international business degree take?
You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two years if you choose to study full time. Accelerated programs may also be available to help you finish more quickly.
Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.
The fine print on MBA accreditation
There are two types of accreditation — regional and specialized.
Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. Regional accreditation confirms that the provider has met and maintained adherence to a minimum set of academic standards.
Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.
Specialized accreditations differ from regional accreditations in that they apply to specific degree programs, areas of study, or departments versus an entire institution. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB) offers the most prized specialized accreditations. It oversees and lays out the requirements for business schools across the U.S. Many employers view attending an AACSB-accredited program as an asset.
Why accreditation matters
Accreditation is key if you want to:
Transfer your credits, as most schools will only accept transfer credits from accredited institutions
Apply for financial aid, as federal aid is only granted to students who are studying at recognized accredited institutions
International MBA degrees are usually accredited through the following — and may hold more than one:
AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)
ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs)
IACBE (International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education)
Check for both national and regional accreditation at your university of interest. You may also find that your degree program or academic department of interest has additional and specialized accreditations.
Why accreditation matters
Some employers consider the value of any accreditations received by your international MBA program when hiring. It’s something to keep in mind, especially if your main reason for pursuing a global MBA is to improve your career prospects.
How much does an international MBA program cost?
What students pay for their MBA international business program varies. Factors such as whether a student lives on or off campus or attends an out-of-state program comes into play. The cost can range from $30,000 to $120,000. You could end up paying more to attend a program at a private institution versus a public one.
Return on investment
While there are no guarantees when it comes to future earnings, the GMAC report shows that your future earnings could double what you could make with only a bachelor’s degree. For example, financial managers earn an average of $129,890. Your path to a high-level position such as global finance sales director may require you to have an international MBA.
Make sure you account for additional fees institutions may charge in addition to tuition. Those costs include charges to access labs, technology, and supplementary course material. You’ll also need to think about room and board if you plan to live on campus or must find a place to live in a different city. You could eliminate those costs by taking an online international MBA program.
What are the admission requirements for an international MBA program?
The admission requirements for an international MBA program vary depending on each institution. Some requirements tend to be universal. Most global MBA programs typically require the following:
A bachelor’s degree from an accredited program
A copy of your transcripts to confirm you meet minimum GPA requirements
Standardized test scores from exams like the GMAT
A personal statement or essay outlining your goals and what you wish to achieve through the program
A letter of recommendation (more than one may be required)
A copy of your resume or CV that showcases any relevant work experience
Some programs may waive one or more of the above requirements depending on your experience in international business. Make sure you conduct research wisely and take advantage of any opportunity to make your admission path smoother.
You have goals. We have a path.
Deciding to take on the challenge of an international MBA program could open up a whole new world of opportunities. You’re showing your willingness to expand your global understanding of how business works. Many of the world’s largest economies have become more intertwined as technology helps us break down barriers to make it easier for even smaller companies to forge alliances with international business partners.
It’s not easy to commit to completing an MBA program, especially if you already have a job. If you’ve been feeling like you’re in a rut or think you may not be on your desired career path, a global MBA could help you find the kind of position that satisfies your ambitions. It’s also a chance to increase your potential career earnings.
Look at some of the jobs you could pursue with an international MBA:
International real estate development
International marketing and sales director
Manager of business development
Information security director
Are you looking for a role that allows you to explore the world of international business? We’ve formed partnerships with many colleges and universities to bring students the chance to move up in their profession or switch gears entirely. You’ll find a variety of program offerings for graduate studies. Why not take advantage of an opportunity to concentrate your studies in a rapidly expanding field of interest with high growth and earnings potential?