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Weigh an Online Master’s Program to Study International Business

ED GALASSO MAY BE 67 years old, but he has no plans to stop working completely. The South Carolina resident, who describes himself as semi-retired, owns a telecommunications consulting firm, and he just recently earned an online international MBA from Southern New Hampshire University.

For Galasso, the decision to enroll in a program with an international focus made sense. “Given the scope of business today – and the telecommunications industry, which I happen to be in – it’s global,” he says.

The idea of studying cultures, governments and economies around the world also appealed to him, he adds.

In addition to an online MBA focusing on international business, there are other program options for learning how to conduct business on a global scale. For instance, Colorado State University—Global Campus offers a fully online master’s degree in international management, as well as an online master’s degree in management with a global management specialization.

To select the right online degree program in this discipline, prospective students should ask the following questions as they conduct research on the school’s website, consult an academic adviser and reflect on their own goals.

Does the coursework align with my career aspirations? Many students continue working full time when they enroll in an online program. Experts say prospective students should look into the coursework and curricula for different types of online degrees to determine what option best meets their professional needs and satisfies their interests.

[Read: 10 Facts About Juggling Career Goals, Online Education.]

At the University of Delaware Lerner College of Business and Economics, the online MBA with an international business concentration focuses more on the broader subject areas in business – finance, marketing, management and the like, says Jack Baroudi, senior associate dean of academic programs and professor at Lerner. Students then take nine credits focusing specifically on international business.

In the Washington State University Carson School of Business’ online MBA program, many students already work for companies with an international presence, says Cheryl Oliver, associate dean for professional programs at the business school.

“A lot of their employees end up working with international clients or their counterparts in international offices,” she says.

Compared with the online MBA at the University of Delaware, the online Master of Science in international business program often takes less time to complete, Baroudi says. In addition to taking core classes centered around international business, Master of Science students at the University of Delaware take courses in various business disciplines depending on their interests.

Karli Peterson, program chair for online master’s degree programs in management at Colorado State University—Global Campus, says those who earn an online MBA are more likely to be first entering business and want a broader knowledge of the field. For those with a business background, the online international management degree may make more sense. At the online school, the students in that program are generally business executives who already have many years of work experience.

At CSU—Global, most online international management master’s students are looking to boost their careers, not necessarily working toward a doctoral degree in international business or a related field. Peterson recommends that students who want a doctoral degree pursue the research track of the Master of Science in management, since doctoral degrees are generally geared toward those who want careers grounded in research.

Certain schools have online graduate programs to study specific subject areas of international business in depth. Boston University, for instance, offers an online Master of Science in global marketing management.

What is the online program’s accreditation? Experts recommend checking whether the online business degree program is accredited. Accreditation is a process conducted by an outside organization to ensure a school or specific degree program meets certain standards of quality, which is often important to potential employers.

[Read: 5 Steps to Check If an Online Degree Program Is Accredited.]

Oliver and other experts recommend that U.S. students select a program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an organization which accredits business schools around the globe.

“Their faculty are paying attention not only to what’s current and what’s hot today, but also able to talk about the historical point of view, the philosophy, the theory, all related to business management and how students can use that framework to pivot at any time in their career as those things change,” Oliver says of AACSB accreditation.

Is online learning right for me? Working adults who study international business online may also travel frequently for their jobs and have a range of other obligations outside of school. Like all prospective online students, they should weigh whether they have the time-management skills and self-discipline that an online master’s program typically requires.

Should I pursue an online degree from a school based overseas? “What I’m noticing in the market right now is that more and more schools outside the U.S. are starting online programs. That hasn’t always been the case,” Oliver says.

Whether to take this route depends on their specific reasons for earning the degree, she says. If one is hoping to work for a certain international brand, for example, enrolling in an international school online may be worth their while.

While most U.S.-based online MBA students opt for programs based within their country, a non-U.S. online MBA can provide even more of an international perspective in terms of the curriculum, projects, teaching and networking, says Nigel Banister, strategic international projects director at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, which offers a global online MBA.

“This is increasingly valued by multinational companies,” Banister wrote in an email. Banister also says the school has found that U.S. students who pursue online business degrees through U.K. universities often work in global markets based outside the U.S.

Oliver says prospective students should determine whether there may be any language barriers before they enroll, noting that accreditation is particularly important to verify if this is the case.

Who are the other students in the online degree program? It could be beneficial to ask an academic adviser about the types of students in the online master’s program, Peterson says.

[Read: 5 Things to Expect From Classmates in an Online MBA Program.]

“If you’re getting a degree in international business, it would be a richer experience to have greater diversity,” says Peterson, noting that some online students at CSU—Global regularly travel around the world.

Who are the faculty? Some experts suggest researching who teaches the online courses in a given program and looking into the faculty’s credentials.

Baroudi recommends checking whether faculty have a Ph.D. and if they conduct or publish international research.

Are there opportunities to study overseas? While it may be difficult for some online students to take time off from work to travel internationally, it’s something for prospective students to consider if they want to learn more about businesses around the world.

At CSU—Global, there’s an online course in the works with a component where students travel internationally, Peterson says. In the WSU online MBA program, students can choose to study for 10 days in Asia, with business visits in China and South Korea.

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