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Field of Study: International Business, Trade, and Finance


International business, trade, and finance programs prepare people to do business in other countries.



In international business, trade, and finance students learn about:

  • Import and export policy
  • Trade controls
  • Foreign markets
  • International banking
  • Money and capital markets
  • Risk analysis

Besides a general business education, international business programs may also require study of a foreign language or cultural studies.

In international business, trade, and finance programs, students may be able to specialize in:

  • International finance
  • International business

Internships allow students to develop skills at companies or organizations. A relevant internship for this program would be in a foreign country or with a business that operates in a global market.

Several community colleges and technical schools offer certificate and associate degree programs in international business, trade and finance. An associate degree program usually takes two years to complete. An associate degree is good preparation to work in sales, shipping, or customer service.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in this program. A bachelor's degree usually takes four years of full-time study. Some programs include a one-year, study-abroad experience. A bachelor's degree is good preparation to work as a specialist in a department such as marketing or finance.

Many universities offer graduate degrees in international business. It is also possible to focus on international business in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.


College preparation

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

  • Second Language
  • World Geography
  • World History
  • Economics
  • Introduction to Business
  • Public Speaking


Graduate admissions

Admission to MBA programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores. Your bachelor's degree should be in a business field. If your undergraduate major was not business-related, you should complete several business courses. Accounting, economics, and marketing are important. Other recommended courses are business law, management information systems, and management. You also should have good command of a second language. Experience living or working abroad is very helpful.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

  • Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Interview


Typical course work

The undergraduate program in a business subject typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Business Law
  • Business Writing
  • Calculus
  • Finance
  • Introduction to Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Microeconomics
  • Statistics

In addition, to prepare for a career in international business, trade, and finance you probably will want to take some of the following, either in a bachelor's program or an MBA program:

  • Global Supply Chain Management
  • International Economics
  • International Finance
  • International Legal Environment
  • International Relations
  • International Strategic Management
  • Regional Studies (for example, Latin American Studies)
  • Second Language

An MBA program typically includes the following:

  • Required courses
  • Internship
  • Thesis (may not be required)


Things to know

You need to take courses in a second language and in foreign cultures, and also in other non-business subjects. Good skills in writing, speaking, and critical thinking are needed for advancement in the business world.

Foreign travel is also very useful, but there are ways you can learn about other countries. For example, you can get to know your fellow students who come from other countries.

Business courses in high school can be useful preparation for a career in this field. Your high school transcript needs to show that you are preparing for a demanding college-level program.


Similar fields of study

Careers you may qualify for

Chief Executives
College Business Teachers
Financial Analysts
Financial Managers
General and Operations Managers



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