Editor's note: We earn commissions from Forbes Advisor partner links. Commissions do not influence editors' opinions or ratings.
The transition to a more integrated global economy has expanded opportunities for international business professionals. International business professionals may work in accounting, economics, marketing, law, healthcare, or information technology.
If you're considering a career in international business, it's important to understand what the field entails to ensure it aligns with your professional goals. Our article covers everything you need to know before enrolling in an international business degree program, including admission requirements, degree options, specializations, and career prospects.
What is international business?
International business refers to the worldwide trade of goods, services, capital, knowledge, and technology across national borders. International commerce involves contractual agreements that allow foreign companies to use the services, products, and processes of different countries. The transaction will also enable the development and operation of manufacturing, sales, distribution facilities, and research and development in overseas markets.
In the sections that follow, we will discuss what it takes to earn an international business degree at the undergraduate and graduate level and what direction the degree can lead you to.
International business specialization
Many international business degree programs offer specializations and concentrations, allowing students to tailor their coursework to their professional goals. Each program offers unique specialization and concentration options. Therefore, not all specializations listed below are available at all schools.
Be sure to research potential degree programs and understand their specializations.
The international finance specialization includes coursework on different types of accounting systems, world stock markets, foreign economies, corporate finance, business ethics, and capital markets.
The Entrepreneurship specialization focuses on establishing and operating businesses in global markets, developing global business strategies, and understanding how legal systems and political and cultural contexts influence corporate strategies. provide students with the skills needed to Coursework typically includes principles of entrepreneurship, microeconomics and macroeconomics, and global corporate strategy.
Specializations in international trade typically include courses related to global business development, international trading, strategic management, logistics, and economic development. Students gain insight into import-export systems, international trade law, current international trade issues, economic globalization, and research methodologies.
international business degree
At all levels, degrees in international business provide students with a foundational knowledge of the principles, practices, and processes involved in international business. Many international business degree programs include a foreign language component.
Remember to research the admission requirements, courses and specializations, and curriculum of the specific school or program you are interested in, as these factors can vary widely. Below is an overview of what students can expect from different levels of international business degrees.
international business associate
The Associate Degree Program in International Business provides students with foundational subject knowledge, including core concepts and principles, as well as interpersonal and cross-cultural skills. Earning an associate's degree prepares students to enter directly into the job market or transfer to a four-year university. An associate degree in business consists of 60 credits and typically takes him two years to complete.
The Associate in International Business curriculum consists of general education and major-specific coursework. Below is a sample of courses typically offered in international business degree programs. Specific course titles and offerings vary by school and program.
- Financial accounting
- information computer system
- management accounting
- marketing principles
- Management philosophy
- microeconomics and macroeconomics
- business law
Admission Requirements for Associate in International Business
Admission requirements for associate degrees in international business vary by program.
Standard admission requirements often include submitting an application and paying an application fee. Applicants are typically required to have a high school diploma or equivalent, and some must meet specified minimum GPA requirements.
Career as an international business associate
Graduates with an Associate in International Business can qualify for a variety of entry-level business positions, including:
- advertising account executive
- Overseas sales person
- international management consultant
- import/export agent
Bachelor of International Business
A bachelor's degree in international business typically consists of 120 credits and typically requires four years of full-time study to complete. The International Business program includes general education, electives, and major-specific coursework to equip students with the core competencies and skills needed for a career in international business.
Although specific course titles and offerings can vary widely from course to course, common courses for this degree include:
- Financial accounting
- business law
- International legal environment for business
- business ethics
- business statistics
- marketing principles
- microeconomics and macroeconomics
- organizational behavior
- strategic management
Admission Requirements for the Bachelor of International Business
Admission requirements for bachelor's degree programs in international business vary by school. Generally, applicants must submit an application, pay an application fee, hold a high school diploma or equivalent, provide transcripts from previously attended colleges, and meet minimum GPA requirements . Additional admission requirements may include:
- ACT or SAT score
- Admission interview
- Letter of motivation
- English proficiency for non-native English speakers (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)
Career with a Bachelor's degree in International Business
A bachelor's degree in international business prepares graduates for a variety of career paths across industries. Below are some positions and roles that you can qualify for with this degree.
Specific job requirements, roles, and responsibilities can vary widely between companies and organizations. Be sure to research the job requirements of your desired position and company.
Master's degree in International Business
A Master of International Business (MIB) degree typically takes one year and consists of 30 to 36 credits. Earning the MIB allows students to build on the foundation they developed during their undergraduate years and gain specialized knowledge. Candidates can expect an interdisciplinary curriculum that provides a comprehensive understanding of how language, culture, and political systems influence business operations.
- Applied research methods
- Global marketing concepts and strategies
- management accounting
- international commercial law
Admission Requirements for the International Business Master’s Degree
Admission requirements for MIB programs vary by school. In general, prospective students must submit an application, pay a non-refundable application fee, provide all official post-secondary transcripts, and meet minimum GPA requirements. Additional standard admission requirements for MIB programs include:
- GRE or GMAT score
- professional resume
- 2-3 letters of recommendation
- statement of purpose or letter of intent
Some programs require applicants to have work experience in the field, while others require no specialized experience. Admission requirements vary, so it's important to research the requirements of the specific school or program you're interested in.
Careers with a Master's Degree in International Business
Below are some of the careers MIB graduates can pursue. Qualifications and requirements for a particular job can vary widely depending on the employer.
MBA in International Business
The Master of Business Administration in International Business is an advanced degree for students with at least two to five years of professional experience. An MBA in International Business typically takes him 1.5 to 2 years to complete and usually consists of 36 to 60 credits.
The curriculum covers the fundamentals of business administration, including accounting, finance, marketing, and leadership. Students gain in-depth knowledge of foreign markets, the global economy, the challenges facing businesses around the world, and the complexities involved in cross-cultural business relationships. Coursework will cover topics related to:
- international finance
- emerging financial markets
- international trade law and management
- world economy
- foreign policy
MBA in International Business Admission Requirements
Admission requirements for MBA degree programs in international business vary widely from school to school. Generally, applicants must have a bachelor's degree or equivalent degree from their accredited four-year university and meet the minimum GPA requirements. Some programs require students to earn a degree in a business-related field, while others do not.
Additionally, MBA candidates must meet a minimum professional experience requirement (often 2-3 years) and must submit a resume detailing their work history with their application. Standard admission requirements are:
- Admission essay, personal statement or statement of purpose
- GRE or GMAT score that meets minimum requirements
- letter of recommendation
- English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)
Top skills for international business
Building a strong network is essential to succeeding in an international business environment. Finding and maintaining professional connections fosters collaboration opportunities with professionals and companies. Professional connections may provide complementary services to help you achieve your business goals, increase profits, strengthen your overall business operations, and expand your career opportunities abroad.
Collaboration can be a powerful tool for businesses and organizations. Collaborating with others broadens your horizons, expands your ability to adopt new approaches to addressing and solving problems, and improves your decision-making skills.
The ever-changing nature of global business requires adaptive thinking. Adaptive thinking requires agile, decisive, yet thoughtful action to overcome complex challenges in a fast-paced environment. You need to recognize unexpected problems, assess possible solutions, and decide on appropriate actions.
Good interpersonal skills include how to interact with others, demeanor, active listening, and general verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Interpersonal skills allow you to communicate effectively, manage conflicts, and address the needs of others accordingly.
Good interpersonal skills are essential to many aspects of business, including managing and maintaining internal and external business relationships, securing investment, and maintaining a satisfied customer base.
International Business Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is international business a good career?
Qualified professionals in international business are in constant demand. Studying international business opens up career opportunities in a variety of industries at companies and organizations around the world.
What are you studying in international business?
International business degree curricula vary by program. Typical coursework in international business degree programs includes accounting, marketing, commercial law, statistics, microeconomics, and macroeconomics. Many programs include foreign language requirements and incorporate courses to help students develop cultural literacy and a global business perspective.