Conducting business across international borders and operating companies that compete in global markets presents a number of unique challenges. International business must contend with relatively straightforward matters regarding cross-cultural communication and language barriers, as well as with more complex issues like international legal and regulatory compliance. The opportunities for growth and diversification afforded by global expansion have put a premium on business leaders who understand these challenges and have specialized training in international business practices.
The general training provided by an MBA program can equip business managers and executives with a number of tools that have applications in global business finance, marketing, strategic planning, and operations management. However, for students who intend to pursue careers in international business there are MBA programs that offer a specialized track or concentration of two or more courses that delve deeper into the intricacies of managing global enterprises. These programs are often referred to as MBA in international business or global business programs.
An MBA is a Master of Business Administration, which is the formal designation for a master’s-level degree that provides instruction in a broad range of general business functions. These functions include accounting, finance, marketing, personnel and project management, operations management, and organizational leadership. Students in a MBA program are often able to take several elective courses in specialized topics, which might include international business. An MBA in international business program replaces some or all of these electives with a designated cluster of courses that focus on various aspects of global business management. These specialization courses may target the application of standard accounting, investment, marketing, and management practices to business concerns in the global economy, or they may explore topics unique to international business, such as multinational corporations and taxation, international trade regulations, and global financial markets. Students who opt for a specialization in international business complete the general MBA curriculum as well as the designated courses in international business.
Online MBA programs offer students who cannot or would prefer not to relocate or commute to a college or university a more convenient and flexible alternative to traditional, campus-based MBA programs. Students in an online MBA program receive all or most of their training and instruction through a learning management system (LMS), which delivers lectures and course materials to students who log on to the LMS using a secure Internet connection. Online learning platforms also support class discussion forums and facilitate interactions between students and instructors. An online MBA program with an international business track uses these distance-learning technologies to offer a complete curriculum of MBA coursework, as well as several courses in international business. While some online MBA in international business programs require students to attend a limited number of campus visits as part of the instructional curriculum, many programs are offered 100% online and do not require any campus visits.
OnlineEducation.com classifies MBA programs based on set criteria and on independent research into a program’s curriculum, accreditation status, and instructional formats. MBA programs with a concentration in international business are generally designated in one of two ways:
In order to be listed on the site, a program must be offered by a regionally accredited, non-profit college or university. It must also be offered through a school or department that has specialized accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).
In order to be classified as an MBA in international business program, a program must have a clear track or specialization in international business consisting of at least two courses in topics relevant to the specialization. Finally, the program must offer all or most of its coursework online. Programs that require more than two campus visits per year are currently not listed on the site.
There is some overlap between the subjects addressed in the general business MBA curriculum and topics that may be covered in an international business specialization. To a certain extent, international business represents a field in which knowledge in areas like finance, marketing, organizational science, and project management are transferred and applied to the global rather than the domestic economy. However, there are areas of instruction unique to international business, such as global banking and fiscal policy, international trade organizations and treaties, and global financial markets. Students in an MBA program with an international business specialization complete the core MBA curriculum while also working to gain knowledge in these specialized areas. They also may take courses in which basic marketing and finance skills are applied to the global business environment. And in most MBA programs there is a capstone project that challenges to students to further apply what they have learned to a an issue or a situation in their specialization.
An international business specialization may include between two and six intermediate-level and advanced courses in global business topics, depending on the program and how the curriculum is structured. Because international business is a broad field, a wide range of specific courses may be included in the specialization, and some programs allow students to take additional electives international business. The table below provides an overview of courses commonly found in an MBA in international business program curriculum.
|Course Title||Course Description|
|Multinational Corporate Environment||A survey of the social, political, and economic forces that impact corporations operating in global markets, and an examination of multinational corporate structures.|
|International Economics & Finance||Financial management of multinational corporations viewed through the lens of macroeconomic theory, international financial regulations, and multi-national trade agreements.|
|International Marketing||The principles of marketing applied to global businesses, with a focus on legal issues, political forces, competition in foreign markets, and consumer behavior in different cultures.|
|Multicultural Management||Organizational leadership and communication skills applied to managing human resources across geographical, cultural, and language barriers.|
|Foreign Markets Analysis||Tools and techniques used to assess and analyze business opportunities in foreign markets.|
Applicants to online MBA in international business programs must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in order to be eligible for admission. Along with undergraduate transcripts, applicants may be expected to provide letters of recommendation and/or a short personal statement, and some programs may ask applicants to provide written answers to one or more essay questions. The criteria online MBA programs look at when assessing applicants vary, but may include a candidate’s undergraduate GPA and/or GMAT test scores. Some programs favor applicants who have professional experience in a business field, but this is typically not a requirement. There are also programs that require applicants to complete one or more prerequisites, such as college-level courses in mathematics, statistics, and/or business/economics. Because admissions criteria vary by program, prospective applicants should examine the admissions policy of each program carefully.
While all of the MBA programs listed on this site are offered online, they are several key structural elements that vary by program and that can affect the relative convenience and flexibility of an online MBA program. The three main areas of differentiation include: online instructional methods (synchronous vs. asynchronous instruction); enrollment options (part-time vs. full-time enrollment); and whether or not the program requires students to attend campus sessions. For a more in-depth explanation of these differences in format, refer to our page on Online MBA Degree Programs.