With advances in transportation and technology making the world smaller, American companies have discovered the advantage of expanding their markets—and operations—overseas. As a result, local universities have stepped up their games to prepare business students to work internationally.
“Every minute we’re increasing the process of globalization,” says Habte Woldu, director of global business and international management programs at the University of Texas at Dallas, where more MBA classes are focusing on international business. Students’ “career paths will increasingly involve the rest of the world.”
With a student profile that includes people from 38 countries and six continents, UTD’s MBA program itself illustrates that business has become increasingly global. “People are coming here to learn not only about the U.S., but how the world works,” says Bobby Chang, director of UTD’s global leadership program.
The concentration offers classes such as global negotiation, global marketing, global communications, and global politics (newly offered this fall).
UTD also offers the area’s only undergraduate major in global business; it requires six language credits and one semester of business-focused study abroad. The degree, previously a “concentration” in the business-degree program, just graduated its first class of about 20 this spring.
The business program at the University of Texas at Arlington began offering international courses in the early 2000s, when students started asking for them. Since then the school has more than doubled the number of its students interested in studying abroad.
At Southern Methodist University, the MBA program began incorporating international skills, part of its global leadership program, as a requirement for graduation in 2000. Students spend two weeks in another country after immersing themselves in international classwork.
One year, program organizer Linda Kao says, students met with the president of KFC in China, a company that managed to make its meals a must-have for Christmas dinner in a country with more than 1 billion people. When the program started, Kao says, students would ask, “Why?” after discovering they would travel to China or other countries outside Europe. Now at least two groups usually go to China each semester, and there are more visits to less-developed countries like Vietnam.
Like SMU, the University of North Texas offers its business students study-abroad trips involving prep work beforehand. In addition, UNT offers a growing number of international business classes that are taught via Skype or another chat program that allows students in Denton to learn specifically about business in Mexico.