Is an MBA in International Business Right for You?
From experiencing life in a foreign country to taking advantage of the numerous lucrative career opportunities available in the global market, the benefits of pursuing a career in international business are huge. One of the best ways to do this is with an MBA in International Business.
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.
But how do you know if an international business MBA is right for you? Here's everything you need to know to decide whether an MBA in International Business is the right choice for you to pursue a global career.
What is an MBA in International Business?
An MBA in International Business is similar to a regular MBA degree. The core course curriculum will likely cover the fundamentals of business administration, including courses on finance, accounting, marketing, and leadership.
However, the course curriculum is also designed to give you in depth knowledge of international business.
It will 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.
Areas an MBA in International Business could take you to include:
- Working in foreign trade
- Global supply chain management
- Being a project manager for an international company
- Working as an associate at international consultancy firms
- Working in import and export departments
- Investment banking manager positions at international banks
- Working in the global tourism sector
So, where can you study an MBA in International Business?
Popular MBA in International Business programs
Because of the nature of an MBA in International Business is that it's global, it makes sense that almost any business school you can think of around the world will offer some form of international business training.
Here is a breakdown of some of the popular places to study international business around the world, including examples of particular MBA in International Business programs.
The United States is the birthplace of the Master's in Business Administration, so it's no surprise that it remains a top destination for aspiring international business students.
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 in International Business route might also take the form of a specialized track within a traditional MBA degree.
That's the case with Columbia Business School's Global Business Track and NYU Stern School of Business' Global Business specialization, where students study topics like Emerging Financial Markets and International Social Impact Strategies.
Europe is also a popular destination for studying an MBA in International Business, partly thanks to the ease of movement that is possible between so many European countries.
Students can witness international operations first-hand and benefit from a range of field trips to organizations in both the private and government sectors.
As well as offering opportunities to see how international business management works within Europe, many European schools also offer the chance to study on campuses outside of the continent.
For example, ESSEC Business School's Global MBA is a 12-month full-time program delivered in France and Singapore, giving students experience of international business in two global business hubs.
“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.
Eddie wasn't the only MBA whose newfound international business experience allowed them to move abroad: 42% of the class of 2021 changed the country they work in post-MBA.
The full-time International MBA program at MIP Politecnico di Milano also offers international 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 is home to many global hubs for foreign trade, including Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and this makes it a great place for International Business MBA students to study the global economy.
The HKU-FDU International MBA program, a result of the partnership between Hong Kong University and Fudan University, offers students an international business MBA 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.
International trade is also a key focus on the international business program at Nanyang Business School. Ranked fourth in Asia by QS Global MBA rankings 2021, Nanyang has an International Trading MBA specialization aimed at training future global traders.
Understandably, many MBA in International Business programs emphasize the importance of learning on the ground: studying on the business school campus and using the school's network to explore career options and see international trade up close.
However, for many people this might not be realistic. For example, you might have a young family who you don't want to uproot to a foreign country. In this case, you need to pursue MBA options that offer more flexibility.
One way to achieve this is through a distance learning program. With a distance learning MBA in International Business, not only can you study from anywhere but you can access international business teaching in other countries, for a truly international education.
There are a few online options if you're interested in studying international business, for example, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and California Lutheran University both offer online MBAs with an international business concentration in addition to the usual MBA course curriculum.
These are great options if you want to gain in depth knowledge of international business from home, as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's program was named the second-best online MBA program in the world by the Financial Times in 2022.
MBA International Business syllabus
As we touched on above, in an MBA International Business, you'll study the typical MBA core course curriculum – including strategy, marketing, and finance – alongside more specific courses focused on international business principles.
Modules might include:
- Import and export management
- International marketing
- Foreign exchange management
- Foreign market entry and growth
- International finance
- International logistics
Students on an MBA in International Business will learn about the rules and structures that govern international exchange, including trade negotiations, tariffs, customs, and shipping regulations.
Most MBA in International Business programs also offer the opportunity to gain hands-on global experience through study abroad immersions and internships.
For example, on the International MBA at the Darla Moore School of Business, students are able to do a 10 to 15-week MBA internship with a multinational corporation at companies such as Adidas, Dell, Daimler, and United Airlines.
The benefit of an MBA in International Business for your career
Global organizations are looking for grads with excellent communication skills who can coordinate exchange 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 job opportunities 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.”
What salary can I get after an MBA in International Business?
As well as accessing more career options, you can also expect a salary boost after an MBA in International Business.
Students on the top-ranked MBA programs around the world can as much as double their pre-MBA salaries after graduating from business school, while many international business roles are highly-paid.
According to Glassdoor, an international marketing manager can expect to earn an average salary of US$95k a year, while an international finance manager can make around US$97k.
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 in international business.
Does that mean an MBA in International Business is right for you?
If you're after a career that spans global markets and gives you the expertise to navigate different cultural, legal, and geographical barriers, then yes, an MBA in International Business is the right program for you.
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.
If you work hard to develop excellent communication skills, learn international market practices, and use your business school network to explore new career options, you're likely to see a return on investment.
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