Why study international business?

Jemma Smith, Editor
June, 2016

International business is an expanding academic field and the job prospects of its graduates are exciting and varied. Discover how you can play a role in the ever-changing global economic landscape

China, Japan and India's economies are among the world's strongest five, reflecting the fact that the majority of gross domestic product (GDP) is now generated outside of the USA and Europe. Understanding international business operations is therefore increasingly important for today's business graduates and that's where postgraduate qualifications in this area come in.

International business programmes give students an understanding of the different business management practices found all over the world and prepares them for graduate careers abroad or in organisations that are engaged in business on a global scale.

Postgraduate study in international business can facilitate the entry or the advancement of careers in areas such as accounting, finance, HR and marketing

Why choose international business?

'Studying international business allows students to appreciate how globalisation has brought about an increasing 'connectedness' of businesses, markets, people and information across countries,' says Dr Kieran Conroy, lecturer in MSc International Business at Queens University Belfast (QUB).

'To be successful in business, students need to develop a global mind set, which provides them with the necessary skills to evaluate and manage challenges and opportunities in an increasingly complex global environment,' adds Dr Heike Schroder lecturer in International HR at QUB.

The skills that you develop on a course of this nature are highly sought after by employers and according to Dr Paz Estrella Tolentino, head of the International Business Subject Development Group at Birkbeck, University of London, there exists a buoyant current and future labour market demand for international business postgraduates. This demand translates into varied opportunities in a range of settings and job sectors.

What do courses involve?

The MSc International Business is a popular programme at Queen’s, 'it shows how most of today's businesses are connected in some way to international networks, for example via suppliers and customers, subsidiaries and joint ventures or through European funds and international regulations and laws,' explains Dr Jelena Vlajic, programme director in MSc International Business at QUB.

'We provide integrated content, which centres on international business strategy as a base and spreads in several multifunctional directions, towards multinational enterprises, global supply and demand networks, human resource management and marketing.

'This provides students with the conceptual and analytical skills needed to evaluate and analyse firm-level and external data, which will enable strategic decision making and help to solve challenges that arise in international business.'

Class sizes are small; giving students the chance to closely engage with lecturers and guest speakers and assessment is through a series of essays, exams and a dissertation. By the end of the course you should possess in-depth knowledge of the contemporary concepts and theories relevant to international business and have the self-confidence, integrity and enthusiasm to succeed in the international business context.

Birkbeck has a successful track record of delivering programmes in this area, enhanced by its strategic location in London, the heart of international business in the UK. The institution offers three taught postgraduate courses in international business: MSc International Business, MSc International Business and Development and MSc International Management.

'Graduates of these programmes possess a critical research-based knowledge and have expertise in a broad range of key issues at postgraduate level,' says Dr Tolentino. Course modules include:

  • business environment: international and comparative perspectives;
  • development policy;
  • international business ethics;
  • international business: theories and issues;
  • international human resources management and comparative employment relations;
  • international marketing.

Search for postgraduate courses in international business.

What do graduates do?

Postgraduate study in international business can facilitate the entry or the advancement of careers in areas such as accounting, finance, HR and marketing.

Possible professions include:

'Graduates of the Birkbeck programme stand out to employers because they hold a broad range of subject specific, intellectual, practical, personal and social skills and competencies to analyse international business management issues critically and to design and implement international business strategy and policy,' explains Dr Tolentino.

'Our graduates also pursue careers in positions of responsibility in governments and multilateral organisations or alternatively take on research leading to higher degrees.'

Successful graduates of the International Business MSc at QUB have gone on to work in Australia, China, Germany and South Korea.

'Immediately after graduation students take graduate jobs as assistants, trainees or PhD candidates. After two or three years graduates can progress to consultant, senior associate, research analyst and line manager positions,' adds Dr Vlajic.

'Some of our students have become successful entrepreneurs, while others have followed an academic career path, pursuing a PhD and subsequently taking on university lecturer jobs in international business.'

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