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International Business Major Overview

By Zach Skillings

Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

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Posted: January 4th, 2022
International Business Major Overview

These days, business transcends borders. As the world economy becomes increasingly globalized, more and more professionals are needed to fill positions at multinational organizations. For anyone looking to capitalize on these emerging opportunities, international business is an excellent field to major in. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this promising area of study. 

Also see: College majors for the future

What is an international business major?

International business is an interdisciplinary major that combines the fundamentals of business with the principles of international studies. Similar to (regular) business majors, students in this field learn about topics such as marketing, finance, management, and accounting. However, international business majors also study the financial, legal, and economic systems of other countries. Students may specialize in a particular foreign market, and oftentimes learn one or more foreign languages. By taking their studies to the global level, students gain the cross-cultural awareness needed to practice business in multinational markets. 

Don’t miss: How to pick a major

Coursework to expect

Students can expect a unique curriculum that emphasizes both the acquisition of business knowledge and the development of international skills. Coursework is typically categorized as quantitative, qualitative, or linguistic. Quantitative classes cover subjects such as microeconomics, statistics, calculus, and foreign market analysis. Qualitative classes are geared toward topics like government relations and business communications. Finally, linguistic courses focus on foreign language study. Some programs also incorporate coursework in the liberal arts, such as history, philosophy, and literature. Students often supplement their classwork with study abroad or internship experiences in Europe, Asia, South America, or Africa. 

Below are some potential courses you may encounter in this field: 

  • International Finance 
  • Comparative Economics
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Ethics and Business
  • Global Logistics 
  • Cultural Diversity in Organizations 
  • Political Communication 
  • International Human Rights
  • Global Marketing 
  • International Trade

Also see: Scholarships360 college major guides

Opportunities after graduation 

As an international business major, there’s a lot to look forward to after graduation. Students can expect to enter a healthy job market, one that is benefitting from an increasingly global economy. Over the next decade, business and financial occupations are expected to grow 8 percent. Not to mention, a degree in this field can lead to lucrative job opportunities. According to BLS, the median annual salary for business and financial professionals is currently $72,250.

Along with promising job opportunities and salary projections, international business majors also get the opportunity to travel the world. With a degree in this field, graduates can find work with global corporations, international banks, and government agencies. At these types of multinational institutions, overseas placements and assignments are quite common. 

Some of the top employers for international business professionals include companies like FedEx, Cisco, Accenture, and Textron. Graduates can also seek work with institutions such as the World Bank, the Export-Import Bank, the Council on Foreign Relations, Amnesty International, the International Finance Corp, and various U.S. federal executive departments (including Commerce, State, and the Treasury). In the next section, we’ll discuss some specific job opportunities. 

Related: Business scholarships

Jobs you can get with an international business degree

Job opportunities span a wide spectrum ranging from finance and accounting to management, marketing, and sales. Because there’s so many niches within the field, students may want to concentrate in a specific area to boost their chances of employment. 

1. Financial analyst 

Financial analysts advise businesses and individuals on investment decisions. They’re very knowledgeable about the effect of economic trends, new regulations, and political situations on investments. They often work with global businesses in industries such as insurance, banking, and healthcare. 

2020 Median Pay: $83,660 per year
Projected Growth (2020-2030): 6% (As fast as average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Management analyst

Also known as management consultants, these professionals recommend ways to improve an organization’s efficiency. They essentially advise managers on how their company can reduce costs and increase profits. Some analysts work for a specific company full-time, while others advise various companies on a contractual basis. 

2020 Median Pay: $87,660 per year
Projected Growth (2020-2030): 14% (Faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. Budget analyst

Budget analysts advise organizations regarding the details of their finances. Key responsibilities include preparing budget reports, performing cost analyses, and reviewing budget proposals and funding requests. They work for government agencies, universities, and multinational corporations. 

2020 Median Pay: $78,970 per year
Projected Growth (2020-2030): 5% (Slower than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4. Marketing manager 

Marketing managers identify potential markets for their organization’s products, then develop pricing strategies for those markets. When it comes to international marketing, managers must adjust their approach based on what sells within different countries. 

2020 Median Pay: $141,490 per year
Projected Growth (2020-2030): 10% (As fast as average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

5. Sales manager 

International sales managers play a key role in exporting a company’s goods and services to countries around the world. They locate opportunities to expand into new markets, and ensure that products are delivered to customers on time and without problems. 

2020 Median Pay: $132,290 per year
Projected Growth (2020-2030): 7% (As fast as average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How do I know if this major is right for me? 

If you’re considering a major in international business, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Do you value analytical thinking and clear communication? 
  • Do you do well with numbers and calculations? 
  • Are you interested in traveling and learning about other cultures?
  • Are you interested in studying a foreign language? 

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then this major could be right for you!

Related: What can you do with a business management degree?

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