International Business Degrees: Masters, PhD & Online Course Info

About this article
Master's degrees and doctorates in international business can lead to careers in management or academia. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
View available schools

International Business Master's and Ph.D. Degrees at a Glance

A master's degree program in international business prepares students for corporate leadership, entrepreneurship, or further academic opportunities, and focuses on doing business in the international community. Ph.D. programs in international business are for those who want to pursue postsecondary teaching or research careers addressing global business and management topics. The coursework for these programs combine a traditional business education with classes in international law, politics and economics so that students have a broad understanding of global management issues. Many programs offer students the opportunity to study abroad to observe business operations in a variety of countries.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? People interested in management careers with multinational companies People who are interested in academic or research careers
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Chief executives ($167,000)*
- General or operations managers ($95,000)*
- University business professors ($75,000)*
- Economists ($91,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 3-5 years in addition to master's or other foundational coursework
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 15-20 graduate level courses
- Internship or study abroad program
- Foreign language requirement
Most (or all) of the master's degree requirements, plus:
- At least 12 more graduate level courses
- Ph.D. qualifier exams
- Dissertation prospectus (proposal)
- Dissertation
- Teaching requirement
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree and work experience, quantitative expertise Bachelor's or master's degree in business or related field
Online Availability Yes Limited

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's Degree in International Business

Entry to master's programs in international business can be competitive. Applicants typically must hold a bachelor's degree and possess a high level of quantitative aptitude, demonstrated by earning a high quantitative score on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or by showing achievement in advanced quantitative coursework on college transcripts. Applicants often have several years of related work experience and are sometimes required to have fluency in a foreign language. Once foundational coursework is completed, you can often choose elective courses that align with your interests, either around a particular region of the world or around certain topics, such as marketing or finance.

Those who have earned this degree are often well-positioned to obtain jobs in the competitive field of upper management of multi-national companies. Compensation for these jobs can vary widely, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) listed the 2011 median annual salary for general managers at $95,150 and chief executives at $166,910. The BLS projected a slower than average growth rate for many of these positions in the 2010-2020 decade, so holding an advanced degree may help an applicant stand out from the crowd.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A master's in international business often provides practical experience through foreign work-study programs, as well as a broad theoretical knowledge base.
  • While competition for management jobs can be intense, those with this degree can often expand their job search to more than one global region, increasing their odds of success.
  • Degree holders can expect to look for work in high-paying careers with considerable benefits.*

Cons

  • Programs often have a lengthy application process, which can require personal interviews, multiple letters or recommendation, and demonstration of quantitative and foreign language skill in addition to relevant work experience.
  • If you already have work experience, you may not want to take a year or more away from career advancement and related earnings to enroll in a program.
  • Tuition can be expensive, and jobs you may apply for after graduation will likely have a competitive application process.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Master's programs generally take between one and two years to complete. General business topics covered include accounting, financial analysis, economics and management. Students also complete numerous courses on international issues, which can include global economics and politics, international law and negotiations, and cultural awareness. Internships, club trips or study abroad opportunities let students actually practice many of these concepts in foreign countries. The international experience gained during these trips can be an advantage for graduates as they compete for management jobs.

Online Degree Options

Online master's degree programs in international business are available from a number of universities. However, programs may still involve a brief residency or on-campus requirement for certain classes, and off-site internships or study abroad trips may still be necessary. Coursework tends to be similar to traditional programs. Online options may provide scheduling flexibility, allowing you to continue working while you earn a degree.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

While you are pursuing a master's degree in international business, the contacts you make can be crucial to your future business career, so extensive networking with classmates and faculty makes sense. If you've decided to focus on a particular region of the world in your studies, additional language practice can help, particularly in casual conversation, as you may encounter this in a foreign business setting. Finally, internship opportunities that you may have can often serve as career springboards. Even if that particular company doesn't have any job openings, the references and connections you build during the internship can be critical in your job search.

Ph.D. in International Business

If you have a Master's in Business Administration or other business-related field and an interest in pursuing a research or academic career, you may choose to go further and enroll in a Doctor of International Business degree program. In this program, you'll study foundational business courses, international business administration and extensive quantitative research methodology. In addition to the coursework, practical teaching experience, qualifying examinations and a dissertation defense may be required.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Programs are typically small, which allows individual attention and mentoring.
  • Programs that require students to teach business classes provide real-life experience.
  • Degree holders can expect job growth in academic careers as enrollments in colleges and universities increase.*

Cons

  • Small program size means competition for admission can be tough.
  • Program can take four years or more to complete, in addition to a previously earned MBA or general business prerequisite courses.
  • Opportunities outside of academia are limited, and postsecondary teaching opportunities at state colleges and universities can be affected by government funding.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

In addition to core business and international-related foundational courses, which may be similar to the master's program, Ph.D. candidates also study research techniques and statistical methodology. You also may need to teach undergraduate business courses. Students can be required to take a qualifying exam before they begin writing their dissertation, which will present their own research on an international business issue. This dissertation must then be successfully defended to earn the degree.

Online Degree Options

The teaching and dissertation requirements necessary to obtaining a Ph.D. in International Business can make online options limited. If you come across such a program, be sure to research its accreditation thoroughly before applying. Foundational prerequisite business courses may be offered online, but again, be sure to research such programs to be certain that any courses you take will be counted towards your degree requirements.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

As you enter the Ph.D. program, you should have at least a general idea of what topic you'll want to focus on, so that you can tailor some of your foundational coursework towards preparation for writing a dissertation proposal. If your program does not require teaching, you may still want to become a teacher assistant as many institutions require this experience when hiring professors. If your goal is to become a tenured professor, you may want to begin the Ph.D. program as soon as possible, since current trends in education are towards the elimination of tenured positions and replacing them with part-time or adjunct faculty positions.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - International Business
      • PhD in Business Admin - International Business
      • PhD in Business Admin - Management
      • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Financial Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Global Leadership (Executive Format)
      • Doctor of Management (DM) - General Concentration (Executive Format)
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA - Management
  • Honolulu, HI

    University of Hawaii at Manoa

  • El Paso, TX

    The University of Texas at El Paso

  • Richardson, TX

    The University of Texas at Dallas

  • Laredo, TX

    Texas A & M International University

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Nova Southeastern University

Featured Schools

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - International Business
  • PhD in Business Admin - International Business
  • PhD in Business Admin - Management

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Global Leadership (Executive Format)
  • Doctor of Management (DM) - General Concentration (Executive Format)

Are you a US citizen?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management

What is your highest level of education?

University of Hawaii at Manoa

The University of Texas at El Paso

The University of Texas at Dallas

Texas A & M International University

Nova Southeastern University