International Business Degrees Could Help Grads Meet Global Demands

A university in Texas this year plans to add three new business degrees intended to help graduates fill anticipated job openings for the future. The institution's new degree programs include marketing, with an emphasis on data and analysis, and information systems, where students can learn how businesses can use computers to improve their work. The Texas University is also adding a global business degree that is to include foreign language and cultural studies, as well as study abroad programs.

This institution isn't alone. In Indiana, a university is introducing an international studies minor where students can learn about foreign cultures. The program is to focus on foreign languages, with a choice of Chinese, French or Spanish, as well as world and human geography, an Inside INdiana Business news item noted.

Today's global challenges demand international competence, according to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators website. Americans who study abroad for credit, engage in service and experiential learning, internships or research, or who study foreign languages, are far better prepared for the demands of the 21st century, the association's web site notes. NAFSA (originally named National Association of Foreign Student Advisers) is a member organization that works in part to promote international education.

Growing economies outside of the United States can influence business transactions and increase the value of an international business degree, according to a university in Tampa that also offers an international business degree. China has for some time been a popular subject of study, as well as a site where colleges and universities have expanded their presences. Now, some institutions of higher education are looking at India, Inside Higher Education has noted.

Georgia's business schools offer joint two-year master's degree programs with a management school in Channai, according to a recent report in Inside Higher Education. Students at a Texas university, on the other hand, have opportunities to travel to India as part of a Study Abroad program with a business focus. India is the second fastest growing market in Asia, presenting lucrative and diverse opportunities for United States exports with the right products, services and commitment, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports.

The concept of incorporating foreign language and culture studies into business degree programs isn't necessarily new. A university in Michigan in 1979 launched one of the first programs in the United States to combine requirements in foreign language proficiency with area studies, international business, economics and practical training that became a model for developing similar programs elsewhere, an ERIC Clearinghouse article reported. Yet a Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporter addressing the expansion of a New York City art and design school's design and management program earlier this year suggested that a need still exists for undergraduate business programs to provide students with an understanding of and empathy for different cultures.

Study Abroad programs help in this respect and others, according to a study of institutions that are part of the University System of Georgia. The study found that the academic performance and graduation rates of study abroad students, including the academic performance of at-risk students, also improves, a recent report in Inside Higher Education noted. Students who have participated in Study Abroad programs have also reported the experience increased their self-confidence, helped them better understand their own cultural values and biases, served as a catalyst for increased maturity and reinforced their commitment to foreign language studies, a Transitions Abroad study shows. The United States Senate, citing the value of Study Abroad programs, designated 2006 the Year of Study Abroad, the Transitions Abroad web site shows.

The House Agriculture Committee earlier this year passed a reform law for travel to Cuba that is awaiting House review, according to a NAFSA news item. Foreign language programs, facing budget cuts, are working to collaborate with other institutional units as a means of strengthening their programs, an Inside Higher Education report noted. To help combat studies showing that students aren't able to articulate the value of study abroad experiences well enough in interviews that they can land jobs, a university in Michigan has established a workshop to train them in this area, according to a recent Chronicle of Higher Education report.

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