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Is an Online Master of Global Business Administration the Right Degree for You?

January 5, 2024
A busy South Korean shopping district at night.

Today’s business leaders operate in an increasingly variable environment. As companies cope with ongoing uncertainty due to the after-effects of the COVID-19 economic disruption, including inflation and high interest rates, and geopolitical conflict—among many other challenges—their need for well-trained professionals with expertise in navigating the global marketplace only intensifies. 

Traditionally, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) has been the essential degree for aspiring business leaders since it delivers foundational business skills that facilitate an understanding of how to successfully operate an enterprise. However, an MBA may not be sufficient for many professionals intending to build or accelerate international business careers, as an MBA does not provide the necessary global context for conducting international business across sectors, disciplines, and issues.

If you are planning to work or advance in international business, the online Master of Global Business Administration (GBA) offered online by the Fletcher School at Tufts University can equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to apply contextual intelligence to business challenges and help your business anticipate and solve complex problems. The degree combines graduate-level study in business and international affairs to prepare tomorrow’s global business leaders.

How a GBA Differs from Other Business Degrees

Tufts offers the GBA through its graduate school of global affairs, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, which distinguishes the GBA from an MBA, a Master of International Business (MIB), and other business degrees offered through business schools. A GBA builds on core MBA competencies, such as accounting, finance, marketing, and strategy, and augments them with critical contextual factors from a global perspective on economics, law, security, and politics. 

The Fletcher School takes a unique interdisciplinary approach to teaching and studying international business administration. The focus on global affairs means that the GBA program is open to students of diverse professional backgrounds, unlike MBA programs, whose eligibility typically requires years of professional business experience. This diversity brings unique, nuanced perspectives to class discussions and assignments, promoting a multidisciplinary approach to business problem-solving.

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Develop Your Global Business Skill Set with a GBA

Fletcher’s online GBA program combines core business competencies with insight into international factors impacting businesses today, including geopolitics, global security, supply chains, economic policy, emerging market dynamics, and laws and regulations. The degree is designed for international business leaders looking to effect positive change worldwide and for global public and social sector leaders (NGO managers, development bankers, impact investors), supplementing their skills with advanced business acumen. It is also an excellent fit for active duty military looking to transition to civilian life in the private sector.

GBA students complete two core courses: Corporate Finance in Global Capital Markets and International Strategy and Innovation. The remaining degree plan consist of discipline and open electives, allowing students to customize the program based on career goals. 

Building Business Foundations

GBA students must complete at least one business foundations course, and they may take up to three more as electives. Business foundations course options include: 

  • Global Marketing Management develops students’ problem-solving skills and teaches fundamental marketing concepts and how to apply them in complex and volatile environments in and beyond the private sector. 
  • Beyond Balance Sheets delves into advanced accounting concepts and themes. It then extends this paradigm to financial institutions, examining their role and function in the global financial system. Themes include capital structure and corporate distribution policy, derivative securities, banking, bond markets, pension funds, and private equity firms. 
  • Sustainable Business Dynamics focuses on navigating new business challenges, including resource scarcity, heightened social engagement, and environmental awareness expectations.
  • International Supply Chains teaches the hard skills (e.g., analytics and decision-making models) and soft skills (e.g., conflict resolution) needed to create, negotiate, and manage global supply chains.
  • Starting New Ventures prepares students to establish and lead new business ventures. Students work on a project to develop a new venture from inception as part of the course.

Developing a Global Context

Global context courses provide students with an in-depth understanding of international economics and policies. Students must take one of the following courses: 

  • The Politics of the Global Economy examines past and present political theories and issues. Upon completion, students will better understand the global economy and future trends. 
  • International Macroeconomics focuses on the factors determining income, the exchange rate, and international trade balances worldwide. It teaches students the causes and consequences of external imbalances, financial crises, and the global capital market. 

In addition, students can choose up to three more of the following electives: 

  • International Security examines the use of armed forces in international affairs, theories of war and bargaining, conflict prevention and termination, post-conflict management, and the role of third parties.
  • Economic Policy Challenges in Emerging Markets teaches students how to analyze the interaction of political and economic trends to understand their impact on emerging markets and how they influence and constrain policymakers. 
  • Negotiating Leadership explores American and international leadership theories and practices to understand why some leaders succeed while others fail. It also analyzes the role of values, ethics, gender, and culture in leadership.

Understanding International Law

Understanding the legal landscape is critical for global business leaders. The Fletcher GBA includes two international law courses. Students must take one course in this discipline and may choose the other as an elective: 

  • International Business Law focuses on the legal issues that affect international business transactions, such as international taxation, anti-bribery law, intellectual property protection, and international protection of foreign direct investment.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions teaches the structuring, negotiation, and implementation of cross-border merger and acquisition strategies.

Strengthening Your Analytical Tools

Analytical tools courses build the critical competencies required to assess trends and business performance and make informed decisions about the future. Students must take at least one of these three courses and may take the other two as electives: 

  • Data Analytics and Statistical Methods focuses on two approaches to data-driven decision making: visual analytics and statistical methods. The course introduces you to data analysis, combining an overview of traditional methods of statistical inference with an introduction to visual analytics. Its goal is to provide students with the skills to make decisions and succeed in a data-rich and increasingly data-driven world. 
  • Decision Analysis for Business helps students develop a toolbox of techniques to assess complicated problems and make the best possible decisions. They learn about different types of decision models and how to choose the model that best represents the problem and tradeoffs at hand.
  • Managerial Economics introduces management issues from the perspective of economics. The focus is on the strategic responses a firm can make regarding both its internal organization and its external interaction with both consumers and other firms. Students explore how economic analysis can aid the understanding and improve the design of organizational structure and the development of competitive strategies.

Why Earn an Online GBA from Tufts University?

Tufts’ online GBA merges the management training of a traditional MBA with international affairs knowledge to provide unique insight into global challenges organizations face. An adaptable curriculum facilitates tailoring learning to one’s career goals, while the online format affords the flexibility busy professionals require.

The Fletcher online GBA program stresses hands-on learning and engagement through a capstone project and two in-person immersions. Students undertake real-world challenges for real organizations in the capstone lab, combining skill sets–from market sizing to presentation skills–and topic areas such as business strategy and government regulation. The on-campus immersion in Medford, MA (near Boston) supports the capstone project, and the international immersion convenes students in Asia, Europe, or Latin America to experience the local geopolitical, cultural, and business environments.

All Fletcher students benefit from career coaching and resources, and a robust worldwide alumni network living and working in over 135 countries. If you’re looking for a global business degree that frames issues within their larger legal, social, political, and economic contexts, contact an enrollment advisor to start your application or learn more.

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