International Business Degree: Who is it Good For?

Working overseas someday is always an option for you. However, you have no idea which particular global career you would like to have in the future. Since international business is more generic than most other majors, you may be wondering if earning a bachelor’s degree in it should be something to consider.

An international business is a good degree for students who would like to have the opportunity to take domestic and international career paths. It’s suitable for those who have hard skills such as negotiating and business knowledge as well as soft skills such as communication, flexibility and empathy.

Planning on adding international business to your list of potential college majors?

Don’t quit reading this post until you get to the very end — we will talk about various international business-related matters such as the different degrees, various career opportunities and many business schools available.

international business degree

Different Types of International Business Degrees

Degree-seeking students who would like to have careers in international business someday may work on associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Bachelor’s in business administration holders who are interested in the global aspect of business may earn a certificate program in international business.

Before you decide which school and international business program you should enroll in, it’s a good idea to first come up with a well-defined career path.

That’s because it will give you a much better idea of which international business degree you should work on.

In any case, you can always decide to further your education — earning a bachelor’s in international business after obtaining an associate in international business, or completing a master’s program in international business after completing a bachelor’s program in international business.

Let’s take a quick look at the various international business degrees you can choose from:

Associate degree in international business

Just like most other associate degrees, an associate in international business generally consists of a total of 60 credits and takes around two years to complete. Besides general education (gen ed courses), an associate program also consists of courses on fundamental international business matters such as accounting and finance.

Unfortunately, an associate in international business does not offer as much rigor as a bachelor’s or master’s counterpart. And this is why holders usually qualify for entry-level positions only.

Many associate in international business holders work as sales representatives and marketing assistants.

Bachelor’s degree in international business

Usually comprised of 120 credits, a bachelor’s in international business leaves plenty of room for the exploration of various international business-related topics in greater detail.

Compared to individuals with an associate in international business, those with a bachelor’s in the same discipline of study have considerable advantages not only in terms of job opportunities but also when it comes to earning potential — the median annual earnings of bachelor’s and associate degree holders are $55,700 and $40,000, respectively.

Especially after having some work experience, graduates of a bachelor’s program in international business can get their hands on upper-level positions in multinational firms and governmental agencies.

Master’s degree in international business

Individuals who are looking to hold executive and senior-level positions in the international business arena may consider working on a master’s in international business, whose curriculum covers both fundamental business concepts and advanced topics such as global economics and foreign policy.

Needless to say, compared to individuals with a bachelor’s in international business under their belt, those with a master’s in international business can pursue more exciting and higher-paying career goals.

Many master’s in international business holders work as executives and global operations managers.

Doctorate in international business

Generally speaking, individuals who pursue a doctorate in international business aim to have careers in academia. Some of them look to work as college professors, while others aim to conduct training teams in multinational corporations. In any case, a doctorate in international business mainly consists of elective and research-heavy courses.

It typically takes four to five years to complete a doctorate program in international business.

The majority of doctorate in international business holders work as postsecondary teachers, who may also conduct research and publish their studies. Some work as global policy analysts and international training and development managers.

international business team

Is International Business Hard in College?

International business is under the umbrella of business, which is widely considered one of the easiest majors. However, not all business majors are cut from the same cloth. International business, for instance, can be hard as it requires doing lots of studying and memorization of foreign principles and strategies.

First things first: the difficulty level of a particular college major is largely subjective.

Something that one degree-seeking student finds so easy may be extremely difficult for another — it all depends on the person’s interests, skills, experience, learning style and many others.

Needless to say, if you are not that passionate about international trade, global management and other related areas, then you might find international business a hard major.

And if you don’t push and motivate yourself enough, there is a possibility for you to wind up being one of the 75% of students who switch majors before graduation.

What makes a bachelor’s in international business challenging is that it’s a multi-faceted program. After all, international business majors are gearing up for business-related careers in an international context.

Typically, international business majors have to take core courses such as:

  • Capstone global business
  • Comparative economics systems
  • International economics
  • International finance

If you think that these are the only core courses you will have to complete in order to earn a bachelor’s in international business, better think again! Being an international business major, you will also have to take courses in the core business curriculum, which provides a common ground for economic and business theory and practice.

These courses, no matter the kind of business-related major, usually include:

  • Business calculus
  • Business finance
  • Elementary statistics
  • Financial accounting
  • Introduction to global business
  • Management accounting
  • Management theory and practice
  • Principles of macroeconomics
  • Principles of marketing
  • Principles of microeconomics

In order to have a more focused international business major, consider choosing a minor that complements it. With the right minor, you can enjoy a rounded out degree and additional skills, which can considerably increase your job marketability when it’s time to attempt to reach your domestic or international career goals.

The following are some of the minors that complement an international business major quite well:

  • Accounting
  • Advertising
  • Business analytics
  • Communication
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Foreign language
  • Import-export
  • Information technology
  • International development
  • Labor studies
  • Law
  • Management
  • Management information systems
  • Marketing
  • Media arts
  • Non-profit administration
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Public relations
  • Social media analytics
  • Sociology
  • Supply chain management and logistics

But you don’t always have to opt for a minor that has something to do with your international business major — you can pick one that has nothing to do with it but has everything to do with something you are passionate about!

What Jobs Can You Have With an International Business Major?

Global business practices are dynamic and more and more organizations are welcoming foreign ideas and contributions. It’s because of this exactly why an international business major can prepare degree-seeking students for a multitude of job opportunities, currently existing and soon-to-be-available alike.

According to recent data, around 11.5 million people are employed in the international business sector.

Because a bachelor’s program in international business will equip you with an in-depth understanding of global issues, it will gear you up for a wide variety of career opportunities.

Some of them include:



  • Median annual salary: $62,910
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 4%

What stockbrokers do is sell securities and commodities directly to their individual clients, which is why finding clients is one of the most important tasks stockbrokers need to carry out.

Besides having a bachelor’s or master’s degree in international business, stockbrokers should also register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which involves taking and passing a series of tests. A few other licenses are available, too, for stockbrokers, depending on the investment products and services they wish to sell.

Financial analyst

  • Median annual salary: $81,410
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 6%

In a nutshell, financial analysts guide individuals, businesses and for-profit organizations in making decisions about spending money in order to rake in profit. They do so by studying the historical and current financial data of clients as well as examining current and predicting future economic and business trends.

Most entry-level positions for financial analysts require at least a bachelor’s in business, international business or any other closely related discipline. Some employers may prefer individuals with a master’s degree.

Marketing manager

  • Median annual salary: $133,380
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 10%

Planning and administering programs in order to generate interest in the products or services offered by their employers or clients — such is what marketing managers do. Many international business majors working as marketing managers are employed in advertising agencies or in managing offices. Some of them are self-employed, too.

The work of marketing managers can be stressful and exhausting, especially when deadlines are nearing. It’s also not uncommon for marketing managers to travel in order to meet with clients or press people.

Financial manager

  • Median annual salary: $131,710
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 17%

Some of the highest-paid international business majors are working as financial managers for investment firms, insurance companies, banks and other industries. Each year within the decade, on average, it is approximated that 64,200 job openings are available for aspiring financial managers to grab.

While a bachelor’s degree is often enough for financial managers to be able to work as such, some employers may prefer those with years of experience as accountants, financial analysts or securities sales agents.

Purchasing manager

  • Median annual salary: $75,410
  • Job outlook in 10 years: -4%

The primary role of purchasing managers is to oversee the work of buyers as well as purchasing agents in order to make sure that transactions will go as smoothly as possible. Most purchasing managers are found in the manufacturing industry, while others are employed by governmental agencies and enterprises.

While it’s true that employment for purchasing managers is on a decline within the decade, at least, it is estimated that around 45,800 job openings per year are available for those who are looking to work as purchasing managers.

foreign exchange traders

Foreign exchange trader

  • Median annual salary: $62,910
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 4%

In order to succeed as foreign exchange traders, bachelor’s in international business holders must have the strongest decision-making skills. It also matters for them to have the most information and best contracts. After all, it’s by charging a commission per trade or spread that foreign exchange traders make money.

Other than having at least a bachelor’s degree, many employers also prefer foreign exchange traders with experience in the trading environment or any other field where number manipulation, hard work and fast decisions are involved.

Public relations specialist

  • Median annual salary: $62,800
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 11%

Simply put, public relations specialists are responsible for making sure that the clients they represent, either individuals or businesses, maintain a favorable image. While they spend most of their work hours in offices, public relations specialists also travel in order to meet with clients, attend events and partake in corporate or community activities.

Employment for public relations specialists is projected to grow faster than average within the decade — 11% vs. 8%. Per year, on average, about 29,200 job openings for public relations specialists are available.

Human resources specialist

  • Median annual salary: $62,290
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 10%

It is the duty and responsibility of human resources specialists to recruit, screen, interview and hire applicants. In some instances, they are also tasked with training employees and handling matters on compensation and benefits.

Typically, human resources specialists have at least a bachelor’s in human resources or a closely related discipline of study such as business administration or international business. Every now and then, human resources specialists may head to job fairs and college campuses in order to recruit candidates.

Which Schools are Good for International Business Majors?

The best schools for international business majors are those whose programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which is considered the world’s largest business education accrediting agency. To date, over 900 institutions have AACSB accreditation.

Picking the right school is crucial for having the best possible international business program and career.

Here are the top 20 colleges and universities of the Best Undergraduate International Business Programs ranking by US News as well as a few details that can help you pick an institution or program wisely:

University of South Carolina$12,688 (in-state) and $33,928 (out-of-state)$41,400 per year
Florida International University$6,566 (in-state) and $18,964 (out-of-state)$38,500 per year
Georgetown University$59,957$78,100 per year
New York University$56,500$53,900 per year
University of California – Berkeley$14,361 (in-state) and $44,115 (out-of-state)$53,300 per year
University of Pennsylvania$61,710$89,000 per year
George Washington University$59,870$58,400 per year
American University$51,334$45,000 per year
San Diego State University$8,136 (in-state) and $20,016 (out-of-state)$39,400 per year
University of Texas at Austin$11,448 (in-state) and $40,032 (out-of-state)$49,200 per year
Fordham University$55,776$48,600 per year
University of Southern California$60,275$60,000 per year
Indiana University – Bloomington$11,334 (in-state) and $38,354 (out-of-state)$41,900 per year
University of Hawaii at Manoa$12,186 (in-state) and $34,218 (out-of-state)$37,800 per year
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor$16,178 (in-state) and $53,232 (out-of-state)$56,200 per year
Arizona State University$11,348 (in-state) and $29,438 (out-of-state)$40,300 per year
Saint Louis University$48,824$44,500 per year
Northeastern University$57,592$55,100 per year
Florida Atlantic University$6,099 (in-state) and $21,655 (out-of-state)$36,700 per year
Bryant University$47,782$54,800 per year
Best Schools for International Business

Top 5 Online Schools for International Business

Want to get your hands on a bachelor’s in international business but can’t step foot on a college campus? There is no need to despair as online degrees in international business are available.

Here are some of the best online schools where non-traditional students can major in international business:

Fort Hays State University

  • Location: Hays, Kansas
  • Cost: $226.88 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Average starting salary: $34,900 per year

Read more about Fort Hays State University here.

Florida International University

  • Location: Miami, Florida
  • Cost: $7,853 (in-state) and $9,609 (out-of-state) per semester
  • Accreditor: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Average starting salary: $38,500 per year

New England College of Business

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $485.00 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Average starting salary: $55,856 per year

Minot State University

  • Location: Minot, North Dakota
  • Cost: $340.14 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Average starting salary: $37,300 per year

Columbia College

  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Cost: $375.00 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Average starting salary: $35,400 per year

Just Before You Enroll in an International Business Program

Refrain from assuming that just because there’s “international” in its name means that an international business degree will limit you to global careers — you will still be eligible for a lot of domestic jobs in business and other related fields.

But to avoid wasting both time and money, make sure that you carefully weigh the pros and cons of being an international student major before you make that important decision. It’s also a good idea to choose an AACSB-accredited program in order to have the most marketable resume possible.

Read Next: Is Sports Management a Good Degree?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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