Guide to an International Business Online MBA

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Are you up for the challenge and adventure of working in another country? Maybe as an undergraduate student, you had the opportunity to study abroad and felt invigorated by this experience, or perhaps you have worked your way up the corporate ladder of an international company and are interested in exploring some options worldwide. You have the business acumen and leadership skills to succeed, but now it’s time to broaden your global perspective. Earning an International Business Online MBA prepares professionals to lead multinational teams. 

What is an International Business Online MBA?

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An International Business Online MBA program is not just for jet setters. In fact, many graduates of these programs will manage teams remotely or work primarily in the United States while conducting business with foreign countries. Students will gain a rich understanding of how the economy is affected by global events, international marketing strategies and gain the ability to think on a worldwide scale.

Cultural competency will also be increased, thus making it easier for managers to work with diverse teams. Problem-solving skills will be developed through international case studies and consulting projects. Coursework can also be conveniently completed online, so you don’t have to hit the pause button on your career. 

Curriculum

Traditional business courses, such as Accounting, Finance, Human Resource Management, Marketing, and Supply Chain, are taught from an international viewpoint. Students will take additional International Business concentration courses, such as Cultural Diversity in Organizations, International Communications, and Managing Global Enterprises. Opportunities may even be available for students to earn credits for international immersion experiences or internships. An in-depth thesis report or capstone project is also usually required prior to graduation. Students will apply the knowledge they’ve gained to explain how to solve a potential problem in international business. International Business MBA programs generally require 36 credit hours, but some require as many as 60 credit hours. 

History of International Business 

The United States has a rich history of international trade. The U.S. Treasury Department has official import and export records that date back to 1790. Foreign trade data, including export statistics, import statistics, and the exporter database, has been managed by the U.S. Census Bureau since 1941. In recent decades, international trade has exploded, and trade laws have become increasingly complex, creating a high demand for international business professionals. Online MBA programs across the world have added a specialization in International Business. Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University has offered MBAs with a Global Management focus for over 70 years. The ease of communicating virtually allows business schools to offer International Business Online MBA programs today. 

How Do I Choose the Right International Business Online MBA?

Start with a checklist of potential features an International Business Online MBA Programs may have. Prioritize these features, such as “must-have” and “nice-to-have.” For example, accreditation and affordable tuition might fall under your “must-have” category, and experiential learning experiences might be on your “nice-to-have” list. If your company is offering to pay for your tuition, they may only cover in-state programs, so of course, that would be a “must-have.” By creating these lists, you can easily eliminate any programs that don’t meet your minimum requirements and narrow down your options.

Accreditations and Distinctions

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Whether the final destination for your career is your hometown or on a different continent, employers recognize and value programs fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The AACSB has a worldwide presence. This prestigious accreditation has been awarded to over 900 higher education institutions in more than 50 countries since 1916 and continues to remain the global standard in business education. 

U.S. News and World Report publishes an annual ranking of the Best International MBA Programs. The 2021 ranking consisted of 32 schools. Not all of these programs are necessarily offered online, but you can research the ones with a virtual option. Rankings are based on three core components: quality assessment, placement success, and student selectivity. The Princeton Review also provides information on 18 business schools offering an MBA Specialization of International Business. Another helpful source you may want to view is Online MBA rankings by both of these publications. You would need to do your homework to identify which of these online MBA programs offer International Business. 

Affordability

You already shelled out thousands for your undergraduate degree, which you may still be paying off. Some students may be reluctant to enter a graduate program for financial reasons, but earning an International Business online MBA is a wise investment with excellent ROI potential. It is prudent to research tuition rates and additional expenses associated with your MBA, such as books, travel, and time you may need to take off from work. Attending an in-state university is usually the most cost-efficient option. Amongst the 32 schools from the U.S. News and World Report ranking, Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business offers the lowest annual tuition at $13,860 per year. In order to qualify for this MBA program price-point, prospective students must be official members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. The price point for other MBA programs begins at just over $20,000 but rises to six-figure tuition rates. Florida International University is an affordable option, with tuition priced at $21,139 for in-state students. However, the tuition rate increases to $47,000 for students who live out of state. 

If you are ready to start your online MBA, but money is holding you back, you still have options! Consider attending part-time, which will likely make your tuition rates per semester lower. For example, Loyola University New Orleans and the University of Miami offer tuition per credit hour at $1,005 and $2,170. Schedule a meeting with an HR representative at your company to find out if they offer tuition reimbursement. If not, now may be the perfect time to scope out positions with other companies you are interested in that offer tuition benefits. Just check to see how long you must be employed for this benefit to kick in. Though scholarships are more limited for grad school, it’s definitely worth checking with the school to see if any are available. Apply early for any scholarships you qualify for because they are often distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Faculty

The best professors are those who can liven up the class with their passion for the subject. They are naturally able to transform into storytellers because they’ve lived the stories. When scoping out International Business programs, find out what percentage of professors have lived or worked abroad. A diverse faculty can provide a connection to international experiences and enrich your learning experience. 

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Experiential Learning Experiences

One of the significant benefits of earning your MBA online is you likely never have to step foot on campus, but how does sinking your toes into white sand on an exotic beach while learning about the tourism economy sound? It is one thing to read about international business practices, but quite another to gain hands-on experiences. Many International Business online MBA programs feature optional global immersions during winter break, spring break, and summer. International immersions include tours of international corporations, trips to economic hubs, and networking with international leaders. If your schedule allows, you can even choose to spend an entire semester studying or working abroad. 

EMBA

Accomplished professionals may be interested in pursuing an EMBA or Executive MBA. Many EMBA programs offer an International Business track. The majority of coursework can be completed online, but students may be required to attend short on-campus residencies. Residencies are usually held on weekends to accommodate working professionals’ schedules. 

Completion Time

Whether your goals consist of completing your degree in record time or only taking a course or two each semester, programs are available to meet your needs. Gung-ho students can complete an accelerated MBA program in approximately ten months to one calendar year. Because accelerated programs require a major time commitment, they may be better suited for students who can temporarily step out of the workforce or have part-time positions. Traditional full-time formatted programs generally take two to three years to complete. Part-time options are also available that allow students to work at their own designated pace and maybe upwards of three years. 

Synchronous v. Asynchronous

Programs may be synchronous, asynchronous, or a blend of both. Synchronous courses require MBA students to log on at a specific time each week to attend classes virtually. You will be able to interact with classmates and your professor in real-time discussions. Breakout rooms may be utilized for collaborative work. Before enrolling in synchronous classes, find out if your grade will be affected by your attendance at these class meetings. If you have to frequently travel for work or work late, this option may be difficult for you. Some professors will record the lectures, and you can watch them at a later time. Asynchronous classes allow students to work independently on digital materials assigned each week. Students will engage with their peers through discussion board posts. If help or clarification is needed, it is your responsibility to reach out to your professor during their office hours or start a dialog by email.

How Do I Apply for an International Business Online MBA?

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You’ve narrowed down your list to schools you plan to apply for! Now what? To stay organized, create a folder for each school you plan to apply for. This can be done digitally or in a physical folder. The minimum requirement for all MBA programs is an undergraduate degree, so have official copies of your transcripts sent to the grad school admissions office. Some programs may require you to take business courses as a prerequisite if you have a non-business bachelor’s degree. If so, enroll in these foundation courses immediately, so they don’t delay you from starting your International Business online MBA.

You will also need to submit a completed application. GRE or GMAT scores may be required, but this component can usually be waived with professional work experience. Most programs also require students to submit a resume outlining professional work experience, accomplishments, and any leadership roles they’ve held. Many programs require two to three letters of recommendation from bosses. You may also need to write a personal statement explaining your goals and how earning an International Business online MBA will help you achieve these goals. Applications may be accepted for the fall or spring semester or on a more flexible rolling basis. To increase your odds of acceptance into a highly competitive program, ensure all documents are submitted in a timely manner.

What Career Prospects Will I Have After Earning an International Business Online MBA?

Graduating from an International Business Online MBA program opens up a world of possibilities. You can leverage your International Business Online MBA degree to pursue a wide array of management roles, such as a global marketing manager, international human resources manager, or ultimately rise to become a corporate executive. Some of the other in-demand possibilities in International Business include economists, policy analysts, and international sales representatives. Entrepreneurs and business consultants will also fare well with an online MBA in International Business.

In recent years, companies have placed more of a concerted effort on attracting diverse employee pools, which has created the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion managers. These managers plan and facilitate diversity and inclusion initiatives and lead staff training on creating a more inclusive work environment. Someone with a degree in International Business would be well-suited for such a role.

There are plenty of international business positions available regardless of which career path you choose to pursue. According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, business and finance careers are expected to grow approximately 8% between 2020 and 2030, which is about average. Training and development managers can anticipate an 11% growth rate, while economist positions are projected to increase by 13%. 

Salary

The salary potential is also very bright for those who work in international business careers. In 2020, economists made an annual wage of $108,350. HR managers also generally earn six-figure incomes, with an average annual salary of $121,220. The median annual salary for marketing managers in 2020 was $142,170. While this figure considers all marketing manager positions, several industries would be ideal for an individual with expertise in global marketing, including wholesale trade, manufacturing, and management of companies or enterprises.

These international business careers become even more lucrative for senior-level employees, with the top 10% of earners in these three professions earning approximately $200,000 per year. Professionals who frequently travel for work also likely enjoy perks such as daily per diems and all travel expenses paid. Sometimes these employees may even receive overtime compensation or bonuses for travel assignments. It is also common for international corporations to pay relocation expenses for new hires and employees transferred overseas. Employees who speak multiple languages may also receive an additional bilingual or multilingual stipend. 

How Do I Succeed in an International Business Online MBA?

Maybe you maintained an impeccable GPA throughout your undergraduate degree and want to continue that streak in grad school, or perhaps college was a bit of a struggle. Still, you know you can do better now that you’re a responsible adult. With these tips, you can get the most out of your MBA experience. 

Time Management

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You likely chose to pursue the online MBA route because time is not something you have an abundance of. Have you ever known someone who seemed to do it all and wondered how? I’ll let you in on their secret; time management. With proper time management techniques, you can balance being employed, graduate school, and family or other personal commitments. 

One popular and highly effective time management method is time blocking. Create a simple template that is broken down into hourly time slots. Fill in tasks that need to be completed for each hour of your day, including sleep, daily commute, and work. This visual method allows you to see what hours are left to devote to school assignments. Pencil these study sessions in, and try to be specific about what tasks you want to complete. For example, Tuesday may say, “5-6 PM read chapter 2 and make an outline”. By time blocking, tasks will seem much more manageable, actually get completed instead of piling up, and you may even feel like you have more hours in the day. Now, that’s what I’d call a win for grad school students!

Student Services

There are a multitude of academic and health and wellness resources available to help online MBA students. Whether or not you realize it, these fees are factored into your tuition, so you should use them. If you are struggling with your business courses, don’t be afraid to seek out tutorials. Online tutorials are available and may include peer-to-peer assistance, or you can schedule time with your professor during their office hours. If you still mix up all of the rules for APA and MLA, you can email your papers to the writing center to have a writing expert proofread them. The library also offers access to online research materials. Mental and physical health are also important components to succeeding in grad school. Telehealth appointments can be scheduled with the campus health center or the counseling center. If you can think of a need you have, there is probably a resource available to help with it. 

Career Services

International Business students need to pursue unique opportunities that will allow them to gain exposure to a variety of cultures. Career services can assist you in locating positions that will give you this experience. Sometimes business schools have their career services center. If you seek an international position, you can’t just hop on a plane and fly to another country to meet with the HR managers, but colleges have you covered. Many international corporations host on-campus interviews or video chats that can be arranged for you by a career counselor. Networking events and career panels also provide opportunities for students to meet with international executives. If you want to gain international experience, but traveling out of the country is not in the cards for you right now, virtual internships and job shadowing programs have cropped up due to world health circumstances. Professional workshops are also available on topics such as salary negotiation for a remote or international career, creating a global presence online, and business etiquette dinners. 

Student Organizations

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Many business schools offer an International Business Association for students interested in global business affairs. Find out if your campus provides ways for online students to get involved. Students can network with professionals in international business careers, attend professional development webinars, learn about financial trade markets, and participate in cultural events. IBA members may also raise funds to attend study abroad programs and learn about internship opportunities available in other countries. This club may also collaborate with the Cultural Programs Office to host virtual events designed to foster an inclusive environment. 

Being bilingual or multilingual will also give you a leg up in your career. You will be the one invited to all of the important business meetings so that you can translate. Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the U.S., and some positions not only prefer but require you to speak it fluently. Foreign language clubs are also usually available for Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, and Russian. When deciding which foreign language club to join, consider which country you plan to work in or which country/countries your clients will predominantly be based in. By participating in a foreign language club, you may have the opportunity to practice through online meetings with a native speaker. 

Action Plan

It’s time to get busy with those applications. Narrow down your prospects and find some top programs to apply to. Plan out your deadlines and your application prep. Give yourself ample time to request and receive letters of recommendation from managers, study for the GRE or GMAT if scores are required, and write a stellar personal statement. After all of your hard work, don’t forget to keep a lookout for your emails for that long-awaited acceptance letter!