Earning a Master's in International Business Online

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According to the International Business Registers Report, most international businesses operate in the government sector, meaning that global finance and business roles are critical to both the global economy and the success of individual companies. Earning a master's in international business online trains students to devise global business strategies and lead multinational teams in anti-globalist environments.

A master's in international business can help entry-level employees advance to leadership roles, earn higher salaries, and expand their job-growth potential. The guide below can help students find financial aid and identify professional organizations that can help them advance in the field.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in International Business?

Master's in international business programs are ideal for individuals with an aptitude for mathematics and an interest in international relations. While some students enter master's programs directly after earning a bachelor's in business, statistics, or international relations, many master's students have several years of professional experience.

Earning a master's degree in international business online prepares students for mid-level and executive-level careers in international banking, economics, trade, and management. Students who want to graduate quickly can earn an accelerated master's degree in just one year.

Why Get a Master's Degree in International Business?

Pursuing Specialization

International business often serves as a specialization within a business or finance program; however, students can specialize further by choosing electives in an area such as infrastructure finance, economic development, financial policy, or international accounting. Graduates can pursue specialized careers in international banking, sales, management, economics, or customs compliance. Some students complete dual degrees in international business and public policy to prepare for positions in governmental and intergovernmental organizations such as the World Trade Organization.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Professionals with graduate degrees, especially a master's degree in business, can advance to high-level positions faster than bachelor's degree holders. According to a report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, about 78% of employers who hire graduates from financial programs planned to meet or exceed their 2014 hiring numbers in 2015. The Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrates the high growth rate and salaries of careers in business and finance. Since globalization is one reason for this job growth, international finance experts are especially well positioned for successful careers.

Online Learning Technology

Universities that offer a master's degree in international business online use collaborative, professional learning software. Students engage in asynchronous discussion threads, submit work online, and may participate in real-time discussions. Since international finance programs often include students from around the world, schools use learning software that allows learners to share information and collaborate with peers. Common platforms include Blackboard, Moodle, and LitmosLMS.

Prerequisites for Online International Business Programs

Applicants to online master's in international business programs should have completed prerequisites, which demonstrate an aptitude for rigorous academic work, the ability to apply theory, and the perseverance to complete a challenging program.

    • Work Experience: Entering graduate school with work experience can help students make immediate connections between theory, research, and application. Most business schools expect applicants to hold at least two years of experience, although some programs welcome recent graduates of bachelor's programs.
    • Exams and Test Scores: Most business schools require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Acceptable GMAT scores range from 200-800, and the average score for graduate students is 556. Most schools set a minimum score of 400-450 for admission. GMAT and GRE scores remain valid for five years.
    • Coursework: Most online master's in international business programs require applicants to hold a minimum undergraduate GPA, usually between 2.5 and 3.0. Prospective MBA students planning to specialize in international business may need prerequisite courses in finance, management, accounting, and marketing.
    • Recommendations: Most business schools require applicants to submit two or three references from professors or managers who can speak to the prospective student's ability to succeed in graduate school. Schools often provide forms for these references to complete either online or in print; however, some recommenders may wish to attach a supplemental letter.
    • Essays: Almost all online master's in international business programs require an essay as part of the application packet. Typically, schools provide questions to guide the applicant. The essay should include clear reasons the student wants to attend business school and should describe their academic and professional background.
    • Interviews: Traditional business schools require applicants to interview with an admissions panel. During the interview, applicants answer questions about why they want to earn the degree, their accomplishments as a leader, and why they selected the school. Online students may not need to undergo an interview.
    • International Students: International students with a bachelor's degree from an institution outside the U.S. must show that their degree comes from a school recognized by their country's ministry of education. These applicants must also demonstrate English proficiency, usually through an exam such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in International Business?

Earning an online master's in international business can prepare students to enter careers in global finance, trade, recruitment, sales, or economics. Managers in these fields can earn some of the highest salaries available, up to $57.65 an hour, with a median salary of $119,910 per year. International business executives with work experience and skills in languages, technical sales, and customer relationship management can advance quickly in their careers.

Traditional Careers for MIBs

Career Stats Description

Trade Compliance Manager

Median Pay: $84,932

Job Growth: 8.2%

These professionals help international corporations comply with regulations and trade laws. International trade compliance managers lead teams of professionals who conduct trade audits, identify risks, update customs documentation, and cultivate relationships with relevant government agencies.

Ideal for: Efficient and organized people who enjoy legal thinking and can develop a deep knowledge of a company

Economist

Median Pay: $102,490

Job Growth: 6%

Economists typically serve state, local, national, or international government agencies. They research economic issues, analyze data, and present their findings. Economists serve as advisers, teachers, writers, and critics of economic theory and practice.

Ideal for: Curious people with an aptitude for mathematics and a strong knowledge of the social sciences

Non-Traditional Careers for MIBs

Career Stats Description

Political Scientist

Median Pay: $115,110

Job Growth: 3%

Political scientists may work for think tanks, universities, or government agencies. These professionals uncover data on politics and foreign relations, analyze data, and develop theories. They then test these theories in order to forecast global political, economic, and social trends.

Ideal for: Academically oriented workers who love to research trends, policies, and issues

International Sales Manager

Median Pay: $121,060

Job Growth: 7%

International sales managers work transnationally to set sales goals, analyze data, train salespeople, and manage sales teams. They prepare budgets, determine prices, analyze sales statistics, and set sales quotas for their team members.

Ideal for: Outgoing people who enjoy using data to help customers make purchases

Actuary

Median Pay: $101,560

Job Growth: 22%

Actuaries use statistics, math, and financial theory to analyze the financial costs of uncertainty and risk. Most actuaries work in the insurance industry, and many specialize in fields such as health insurance, pension and benefits, or property and casualty insurance.

Ideal for: People with keen analytical and problem-solving skills

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, 2017-2018

Paying for an Online Master's in International Business

Before pursuing a master's in international business online, prospective students should consider the total cost of the degree. Total cost depends on tuition rates, credit requirements, available discounts for military members or in-state residents, corporate support, and scholarships for international business students. Earning a degree on an accelerated timeline can significantly reduce overall costs. Accelerated programs typically help students save money and earn higher-paying jobs quickly.

Tuition Timelines

Students pursuing an international business master's degree online can graduate quickly by choosing an accelerated, one-year program. Other students pursue a part-time path and complete requirements at a more leisurely pace.

Part-Time Path

Earning a part-time master's in international business online takes at least two years, may require campus-based coursework, and often requires learners to work with cohorts of peers.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: University of Florida
Total Credits Required: 48
Summary: Part-time students can complete the online MBA with a concentration in international business in two years. Online tuition costs less than $60,000 for the entire degree; however, rising tuition rates could make extending the completion time more costly. Students must take 2-3 courses per semester to graduate on time.

Full-Time Path

Full-time online students enroll in about 12 credits per semester to graduate in 18-24 months, depending on the length of the curriculum.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Southern New Hampshire University
Total Credits Required: 36
Summary: Full-time students typically complete SNHU's MBA with a concentration in international business in about 18 months. The entire program costs just less than $19,000. For students who take longer to complete the program, tuition increases may raise the total cost.

Accelerated Path

An accelerated degree takes one year to complete, typically utilizes a cohort structure, and may charge a flat fee rather than a per-credit tuition rate.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Georgetown University
Total Credits Required: 30
Summary: Georgetown's program requires one year to complete, and students progress through each course module in a lockstep cohort fashion. The university charges a flat fee that covers almost all program expenses, including travel.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships

Earning a master's in international business online can be a rewarding but expensive investment. Fortunately, public and private grants and scholarships can help students pay for tuition and expenses.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online International Business Program

Earning a master's in international business online can require 30-55 credits and typically takes 1-3 years, depending on credit requirements and how many classes the student takes per semester. Learners focus on the role of management professionals in global organizations and may attend in-person events in major cities around the world. Due to the degrees international and interdisciplinary components, learners from around the globe often participate in online classes.

Major Milestones

  1. Immersion - At the beginning of the program

    Students earning master's in international business online often complete an on-campus component, which typically occurs at the beginning of the program. Students engage in face-to-face dialogue and collaborative learning exercises before beginning coursework.

  2. Core Coursework - The first half of the program

    Students begin with core coursework in the business disciplines of accounting, finance, marketing, leadership, and project management. This coursework builds a foundation to prepare students for international coursework and practical requirements.

  3. Practical Experience - Midway

    An internship or other practical, hands-on project usually occurs about halfway through the program. During the experience, students build on classroom knowledge and gain a practical perspective on concentration coursework.

  4. Concentration Coursework - The second half of the program

    International business degrees may offer concentrations that focus on global perspectives in areas such as geopolitics, strategy, public policy, and international development. Concentration courses often build on core coursework.

  5. Capstone Project - The end of the degree

    Master's in international business programs often culminate in a capstone project, which may be a final course in strategic management, a research project, or a practical experience that synthesizes previous coursework.

Coursework

Online master's degrees in international business include coursework in fields including accounting, management, finance, leadership, and marketing. Courses vary by program, but most curricula include the courses below.

Global Strategy

This course teaches students to craft, develop, and employ strategy at all levels within a company. Students learn analytical and engagement skills such as firm, industry, and market analysis, along with diagnostic skills.

International Marketing

During this course, learners gain the skills needed to interface with a global company and an international marketplace. This course focuses on product communication, pricing, and distribution and development in a global context.

Future Mindset

Recognizing that emerging technologies will disrupt financial markets repeatedly throughout the next ten years, this course equips students with actionable insights into the manager's role in a forward-thinking organization.

Project Management

Students acquire the skills in project management through assignments, lectures, and collaboration. The course focuses on the time, quality, scope, and cost of a project with an emphasis on stakeholder satisfaction.

Financial Management

Learners study how funds flow within organizations. Students learn about the management of capital, risks and rewards, and how investors in different countries think about the value and management of cash.

Requirements to Practice

Positions in international business may require certifications in accounting, risk management, or investment analysis. Professional qualifications can help candidates stand out in the job market. Most certifications require at least two years of experience and 1-2 exams. There are centers around the world that offer these exams, and students can study using online resources. Maintaining certifications often requires additional exams and continuing education coursework.

    • Certified Investment Management Analyst: Both new and experienced investment analysts can qualify to become CIMAs. The designation shows knowledge and skill in management accounting, financial accounting, and business. Exams generally last two hours and contain 60 objective questions. Routes to becoming a CIMA vary based on the candidate's educational and professional background.
    • Financial Risk Manager: Designed for expert risk professionals, this credential demonstrates measurement and management skills applicable to the modern financial market. The certification requires a two-part exam followed by two years of full-time, relevant employment. Each exam lasts four hours, and the two exams include a combined 180 questions. The cost ranges from $750-$1,050 and depends on when the candidate registers.
    • Energy Risk Professional: This credential requires a rigorous two-part exam and two years of work experience in energy risk management. Each exam lasts four hours, and together, the exams comprise 140 questions. First-time candidates pay between $750-$1,050, depending on when they register.
    • Certified International Investment Analyst: Professionals who are members of the ACIIA and who have three or more years of investment experience can take two common knowledge exams and a national or regional exam to qualify for this certification. Exams include case studies and in-depth essay questions. Fees vary based on ACIIA chapter and region.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations can help individuals advance their international business career. Through these networks, students can gain access to resource libraries, attend online and in-person events, meet leading professionals in the field, and publish their ideas. Recent graduates can earn professional certificates and take advantage of online job boards and career centers. Many organizations publish academic journals that current students can use to write research papers.

  • The World Trade Organization: The WTO serves as a forum for member countries to negotiate trade agreements and settle disputes. The organization's website contains links to cutting-edge research, statistics, and working papers, along with online courses.
  • The International Chamber of Commerce: A worldwide business organization dedicated to helping enterprises of all sizes operate responsibly and profitably, ICC offers online resources, including classes and certificates.
  • International Association of Business Communicators: Communicators can earn certifications and take advantage of the organization's webinars, online events, awards, job center, and world conference. Online resources include an extensive library of business communication articles.
  • World Technology Network: Composed of leading innovators in technology, science, and related fields, the WTN offers prestigious fellowships, events, and awards. The organization hots webinars and events and facilitates an online community.
  • Entrepreneurs' Organization: Formed as a global network for entrepreneurs, EO offers peer-to-peer learning opportunities, executive education options, global events, chapter events, and an accelerator program. Students can qualify for the organization's Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.
  • The Federation of International Trade Associations: A global trade portal, FITA links 8,000 international import and export-related websites. Students can access market research and sign up for a free biweekly newsletter.
  • International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education: IACBE is an accreditation program for business education programs at U.S. colleges and universities. The organization also provides an extensive resource library, publishes a journal, and hosts events about business education.
  • Research in International Business and Finance: RIBAF publishes scholarly articles on issues relevant to intellectual risk-taking and interdisciplinary overlap in international finance. A recently published issue dealt with cryptocurrency in international finance.
  • Journal of International Finance Studies: The International Academy of Business and Economics publishes JIFS, an academic journal concentrating on theoretical and practical articles related to international finance. The journal releases two issues per year.
  • The Institute of International Finance: A global research and advocacy network composed of 450 member organizations, the IIF publishes research on financial, regulatory, and economic policies related to the global financial industry.