International Trade Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in an international trade degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Study International Trade: Degrees at a Glance

A degree in international trade can prepare you for work in trade-related industries operating across national borders, giving you the chance to interact with clients and partners from all over the world. You'll utilize the skills and knowledge learned in such classes as business geography, international transport and foreign language courses, while working in such positions as import/export clerk, sales representative and more.

Employment prospects for successful degree candidates are mixed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some relevant vocations, such as translators and interpreters, can expect faster-than-average job growth (42%) between 2010 and 2020. Other career paths, such as financial managers, will see less impressive (9%) job growth.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Those interested in entry-level employment opportunities in international trade or business Individuals that want to pursue management positions in international trade
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Cargo and freight agents ($41,000)*
- Brokerage clerk ($44,000)*
- Sales representative ($64,000)*
- Interpreters and translators ($51,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements An internship may be required Possible requirements include semester abroad, international internship and foreign language requirement
Prerequisites High school diploma or its equivalent High school diploma
Online Availability Yes Yes

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

Associate Degree in International Trade

Students enrolled in this type of program learn about standard business topics such as marketing and management principles, computer applications and business statistics. They also study topics relevant to international trade, such as global supply chain methods, international banking rules and multinational human resource management.

Some international trade degree programs feature a particular academic concentration, such as international management. Programs like these allow you to focus your coursework on subject matter related to your vocational goals. This degree is most often offered in the Associate of Applied Science degree format.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You'll be able to earn your degree in just 2 years
  • Associate degree programs in international trade are often offered at community colleges, which feature more affordable tuition rates
  • If you decide to continue your studies, you'll be in a good position to pursue a 4-year degree in international trade or a related field

Cons

  • May not prepare you for as many career paths as a bachelor's degree
  • Your career stability may be tied to the vagaries of the global job market
  • The information and knowledge you acquire in this program may be narrower than in a 4-year degree program

Courses and Requirements

Most of the courses you'll take in this degree program will be lecture-based classes. In addition to your core international trade courses, you'll also enroll in general education classes, such as English composition and algebra. Some programs feature internship opportunities for course credit. Some course topics found in such a program could include:

  • Accounting
  • International marketing theories
  • Export licensing regulations
  • Global logistics
  • Imports and exports

Online Degree Options

There are a variety of online options for individuals interested in pursuing a distance-learning degree in international trade. Some academic programs offer all of the necessary courses in an online format. Students enrolled in this type of program utilize electronic blackboards, streaming video, chat rooms and e-mail to absorb information and communicate with teachers and students. Programs that offer a blend of online and campus-based classes, generally referred to as hybrid programs, are also available.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

When looking for ways to get ahead in the competitive field of international trade, you might want to consider pursuing voluntary industry certification. The National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE) offers a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) certification.

To achieve this certification, you must pass a proficiency exam administered at NASBITE centers throughout the U.S. and Europe. The certification will act to signal to employers that you have the global commerce skills they are looking for. CGBP certification is open to students as well as working professionals.

Bachelor's Degree in International Trade

These are often interdisciplinary programs, featuring courses from academic fields such as business, communications, law and finance. Bachelor's degree programs in international trade usually require students to choose a topical concentration for their studies. Examples of these concentrations include foreign language, international transportation, management and e-commerce. Programs may also include an international internship or study-abroad requirement. If you're interested in becoming an interpreter, you will need to become fluent in a second language, which can be achieved through select dual-degree programs in international trade. Graduates of such a degree program will be eligible to pursue careers in traditional business fields such as marketing, finance and accounting but will also be eligible for careers in non-profit, educational and governmental fields.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Some career paths (such as translators and interpreters) are expected to experience larger-than-average job growth between 2010 and 2020*
  • Graduates of this type of program will be prepared to pursue an advanced degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Successful degree candidates will be eligible to pursue jobs both in the United States and abroad

Cons

  • In some instances you may be competing with candidates who have an advanced business degree
  • Making yourself available for international trade careers may require you to relocate
  • Employees in related occupations, such as financial managers and interpreters, may work long or irregular hours

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

Courses and Requirements

The topics covered in the coursework for these programs will be similar to that of the associate degree program. However, at the bachelor's degree level, you'll study the international commerce concepts in greater depth. Another curriculum difference is that you'll most likely take more management and leadership courses in the 4-year program. It is also possible that your program will require you to spend a semester abroad, studying business and trade in an international dynamic.

Online Degree Options

If you want to pursue a 4-year degree in international trade, you can do so in a campus-based program or in an online degree program. There are accredited institutions that offer relevant bachelor's degree programs in a completely online format. Programs such as these utilize the latest in distance-learning technology, including electronic blackboards, chat rooms, message boards, streaming video and more.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Joining professional organizations can help you gain a competitive edge in the international trade job market. The International Import Export Institute (IIEI) is one such organization. The IIEI offers certification for a range of vocations, including international freight specialist, logistics specialist, import export compliance officer, marketing specialist and finance specialist. Your certification will be awarded to you upon successful completion of a proficiency exam.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - International Business
      • B.A. - Business Admin
      • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • Bachelor: Accounting
      • BBA: Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in International Business
      • BS in Business Studies - International Mgt
      • BS in Business Studies - Business Adminis
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Government - International Relations and Foreign Policy
      • Bachelor of Arts in International Studies
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - Economics
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business
      • Bachelor of Applied Science in Management and Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Business Admin.
      • BS in Finance and Economics
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management: International Business Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - International Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development
      • BS - Business Administration - General
      • BS - Business Administration - Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Trident University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Business Administration

Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • B.A. - International Business
  • B.A. - Business Admin
  • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BSBA - Investment
  • Bachelor: Accounting

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Southern New Hampshire University

  • BS in International Business
  • BS in Business Studies - International Mgt
  • BS in Business Studies - Business Adminis

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Arts in Government - International Relations and Foreign Policy
  • Bachelor of Arts in International Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Business

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Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • BS in Applied Management
  • BS in Business Admin.

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership

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Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business

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Herzing University

  • B.S. - Business Management: International Business Concentration
  • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration

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