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Is an MBA in International Business Right for You?

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The MBA in International Business is designed for professionals with a few years’ experience who want to develop their leadership abilities in a global business context, through both internationally focused courses and study abroad experiences.

An MBA in International Business is similar to a regular MBA degree, but it will also teach you about the global challenges facing companies, foreign markets, global economics, and cross-border relationships, as well as the leadership and communication skills necessary to thrive in multinational corporations.

The degree will either come in the form of a specialized MBA in International Business, or a traditional MBA with a track or specialized elective pathway that focuses on international business.

Who is an MBA in International Business for?

MBA in International Business programs are aimed at professionals with around two to five years of work experience who want to launch or accelerate a career in international business or at a multinational company.

You’ll study a wide range of business topics from a global perspective, and you’ll build your management skills to prepare you for leadership positions that require cross cultural and cross functional expertise.

Popular MBA in International Business programs

United States

The Darla Moore School of Business at University of South Carolina offers the best MBA in International Business program in the US, according to US News.

Students in the program can choose from two study tracks. The Global Track leads with a global curriculum and includes an international immersion in a country where English is the primary language.

The Language Track requires students to pick a language of study from Spanish, French, or German, and offers students the opportunity to spend a term in a country where a student’s language of choice is the primary language.

Your MBA International Business route might also take the form of a specialized track within a traditional MBA. That’s the case with Columbia Business School’s Global Business Track and NYU Stern School of Business’ Global Business specialization, where students study things like Emerging Financial Markets and International Social Impact Strategies.

Top MBA Programs

What are the best MBA programs for you? Check out our list of top MBA programs by GMAT score sending, featuring HBS, Stanford, and Wharton.

Europe

ESSEC Business School’s Global MBA is a 12-month full-time program delivered in France and Singapore; 42% of the class of 2021 changed the country they work in post-MBA.

“Each campus has its own benefits which helped me have a more global and holistic view of business,” says Eddie Jian Luo, an ESSEC Global MBA alum who took up a role with Internet company Xiaomi Technology in Paris after graduating in 2020.

The full-time International MBA program at MIP Politecnico di Milano also offers global business experience. The program offers a wide range of exchange programs with the likes of Nyenrode Business School in the Netherlands, Beihang University School of Economics and Management in China, and the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow.

Asia

The HKU-FDU International MBA program, a result of the partnership between Hong Kong University and Fudan University, offers students an international MBA experience with a focus on Asia. There are also a series of electives around Glocal Management—taking a global company and looking at the various elements that need adapting to fit local customs, laws, cultures, and consumer expectations.

Nanyang Business School, ranked fourth in Asia by QS Global MBA rankings 2021, also has an International Trading MBA specialization aimed at training future global traders.

Online

There are also a few online options if you’re interested in a more flexible program. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and California Lutheran University both offer online MBAs with an international business concentration.

MBA International Business syllabus

In an MBA International Business, you’ll study the typical MBA core courses—including strategy, marketing, and finance—alongside more specific courses with an international perspective.

Modules might include:

  • Import and export management
  • International marketing
  • Foreign exchange management
  • Foreign market entry and growth
  • International finance
  • International logistics

Students learn about the rules and structures that govern international exchange, including trade negotiations, tariffs, customs, and shipping regulations.

Most MBA International Business programs also offer the opportunity to gain hands-on global experience through study abroad immersions and internships.

For example, you’ll be able to do a 10 to 15-week MBA internship with a multinational corporation at companies such as Adidas, Dell, Daimler, and United Airlines if you enroll in the International MBA at the Darla Moore School of Business.

The benefit of an MBA International Business for your career

Global organizations are looking for grads who can coordinate communication across continents and cultures, and who have the skills needed to navigate complex global markets.

MBA International Business graduates can access a wide range of careers in international companies, entering roles like international business developer, international marketing manager, foreign policy advisor, international finance manager, and import or export consultant.

For Shivam Batra, who enrolled in an International MBA program at MIP Politecnico di Milano, completing the program meant building a diverse network, which eventually helped him secure his dream job in the sustainability sector as head of business strategy development at Synergie. 

“MIP gave my professional profile a huge boost,” he says. “Yes, it was a very challenging year—mastering multiple subjects, taking on difficult projects, and interacting with international peers—but it was a fruitful journey.”

You can also expect a salary boost after an MBA in International Business. According to Glassdoor, an international marketing manager can expect to earn US$95k a year, while an international finance manager can make around US$97k.

Interactive Tool: Estimate Your Post-MBA Salary

How much could an MBA increase your salary? Use our MBA salary calculator to estimate your post-MBA salary based on real data from alumni and top employers.

How much does an MBA in International Business cost?

The cost of your MBA in International Business will vary depending on the program and location you choose.

For example, the 22-month program at the Darla Moore School of Business will cost you US$43,142 if you’re a South Carolina resident and US$71,580 if you come from out of state.

In Europe, IE Business School’s 11-month International MBA program costs US$84,000, while the 12-month International MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano costs US$43,000.

In Asia, the HKU-FDU International MBA two-year program will set you back US$77,000.

However, there’s a broad range of MBA scholarship options that can help you finance your degree. For example, merit-based financial aid at MIP Politecnico di Milano can cover up to 50 percent of tuition.

A post-graduation salary boost will also help to offset any loans or financing you use to pay for your degree.

MBA Return on Investment Calculator

Use our ROI Calculator and play out your earning scenarios with and without an MBA.

Does that mean an MBA in International Business is right for you?

Yes, if you’re after a career than spans global markets and gives you the expertise to navigate different cultural, legal, and geographical barriers.

Like any MBA degree though, the reward in the form of a salary boost and a new career comes down to the work you put in during your time at business school.

But with ample opportunity for diverse teamwork and global business projects, an MBA in International Business can set you up for a career spanning the world.

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