For the ninth consecutive year, the Darla Moore School of Business International MBA program is ranked No. 1, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 rankings. This is the 33rd consecutive year the IMBA program has been in the top 3.
“Earning the No. 1 ranking for the ninth consecutive year is a gratifying accomplishment by our International MBA program,” Dean Peter Brews said. “Our world-class faculty and comprehensive program prepare IMBA candidates for top positions globally — and greatly contribute to this ranking. Our students’ preparation and skills speak for themselves with a top job placement rate for our most recent graduates. Our IMBA graduates go on to work and lead Forbes 500 companies and work in a multitude of countries. The Moore School continues to be the leader among U.S. international MBA programs, setting the example for other programs to aspire to.”
The Moore School delivers International MBA candidates an unparalleled look at international business, said Diondra Black, assistant director of full-time MBA programs.
“You get to travel to another country, to live, touch, taste global business,” she added.
The Moore School’s senior leaders have spent decades developing relationships with
the top international business institutions around the world to provide a well-rounded
IMBA Origins and the Nation’s Top-Ranked International Business Department
The International MBA program was created so IMBA students could understand the context in which business operates under various cultural and economic environments. The idea for the IMBA program was to deliver rigorous coursework in international business and management functions with enriching immersion opportunities that took learning outside the classroom. The Moore School’s early philosophy surrounding international business was that all business is inherently international and should be seen from that macro lens.
Coming from a variety of backgrounds and industries, the Moore School’s international business faculty are known for their scholarly research and innovative thought leadership in their field.
Faculty in the Moore School’s Sonoco International Business Department have been in the top 2 worldwide for research productivity in international business for more than 30 years, according to the Journal of International Business Studies. They were No. 1 from 1990-2015.
While known for their research, IMBA faculty also bring decades of global corporate experience to their students.
“The Moore School has been a pioneer when it comes to the International MBA program
and continues to adapt and tailor the curriculum to address trends and challenges
global businesses are experiencing,” said Satish Jayachandran, associate dean of graduate
programs and marketing department chair and the James F. Kane Professor of Business.
The IMBA Today
Four years ago, the Moore School significantly restructured its full-time programs, both the two-year IMBA as well as the one-year MBA, to allow MBA students to receive in-depth business analytics training.
“With the restructuring, quantitative courses became the focus and starting point of the MBA program in year one, with international business core beginning terms two and three, followed by an internship,” said Jennifer Ninh, full-time MBA programs managing director.
IMBA candidate Emily Green (’22 IMBA expected graduation) selected the Moore School for the International MBA program to enhance her hard skills like business analytics after spending two years in Paraguay in the Peace Corps.
Green said she knew she had gained professional experience in problem solving, critical thinking, resiliency and creativity during her time in the Peace Corps but knew she also wanted to fine tune her technical skills.
“I’ve already learned a lot about how to manage, interpret and visualize data using programs like Excel and Power BI,” Green said. “I’ve also [learned models] that help with strategic thinking. I know these skills will be critical in combination with my Peace Corps experience working for larger companies on their social responsibility initiatives.”
While emphasizing quantitative concepts, the IMBA program is highly customizable, allowing students to choose one of two tracks: a global track for in-country immersion where English is widely spoken or a language track that features immersion in an international environment and includes studying a language.
Recent global track choices include Hong Kong, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; Vallendar, Germany; Singapore; or Taipei, Taiwan.
The Moore School’s IMBA program offers the longest in-country immersion among U.S. IMBA programs. International exchange programs are available at more than 65 schools in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and North and South America.
“I believe the international immersion is what truly sets our program apart,” Black said.
While most of their classmates were unable to study abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, IMBA alumni Alec Klungle (’21 IMBA) and Robert Campos (’21 IMBA) sought out their own independent immersion experience in Mexico.
“To ensure I got international experience and exposure, a few classmates and I created an independent study where we partnered with a startup from Mexico City, Mexico, and helped them by offering free marketing consulting,” he said. “Business continues even through the challenges COVID-19 brings, so we wanted to try to make a positive impact. Our project goal was to deliver a go-to-market strategy that would be effective in the U.S. With our knowledge of American culture and marketing, we were excited to be part of something useful for this business.”
Along with the emphasis on studying abroad, IMBA candidates select one of four functional specializations to round out their curriculum: finance, operations and supply chain, marketing or strategic management.
Depending on a student’s interest, there are five graduate certificates they can complete in tandem with their IMBA. Available certificates include business analytics, cybersecurity management, enterprise resource planning systems, global strategy and strategic innovation. Students also have the opportunity to pursue the Sonoco Lean-Six-Sigma Green Belt certification, which provides students with the highly coveted operations and supply chain industry credential. The Moore School’s graduate operations and supply chain program that assists students in gaining the industry certification is ranked No. 22 in North America, according to Gartner.
The majority of the courses IMBA students take their first year count toward their
graduate certificates or the OSC industry certification. The candidates fulfill other
curriculum requirements during their in-country immersions.
International Immersion and Experiential Learning During COVID-19
While a major aspect of the International MBA program is studying abroad, the COVID-19 pandemic made that difficult for students around the globe, so Moore School IMBA faculty virtually brought executives from other companies to their classrooms.
“The contextual intelligence gained by an extensive immersion abroad is the hallmark of our International MBA program,” Ninh said. “Since the IMBA candidates couldn’t physically be ‘on the ground’ in their immersion countries, virtual trips extended our global reach and student impact via direct access to the contexts of doing international business — which is the guiding objective of the IMBA program and curriculum.”
To prepare them for top positions at the most-desired companies, IMBA candidates apply what they’re learning in the classroom through real-world experiential learning opportunities that include case competitions, internships, the meetings with multinational company executives, the aforementioned studying abroad and consulting projects.
A team of four International MBA candidates won first place out of 309 teams in the Association for Supply Chain Management 2020 Case Competition. All graduating in May 2022, the four tackled business cases that required substantial technical analysis and test-detailed supply chain-related concepts throughout the year-long competition.
For the first round of the competition, the team had to explore supply chain issues related to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
“The first round was in October 2020, before COVID-19 vaccines were readily available in the U.S.,” said Olivia Lynch (’22 IMBA expected graduation), one of the IMBA candidates who participated in the competition. “This gave us a unique opportunity to see relevant data and collaborate on a historical global issue.”
While the competition prepared four students for their future careers, each International
MBA candidate experiences a 10- to 15-week internship with a multinational organization,
including Adidas, Bayer, Dell, Daimler AG, Michelin, United Airlines, UPS and more.
Record high job placement and competitive salaries
In their first semester at the Moore School, IMBA candidates take three core business analytics courses, which provide them with the knowledge and skills needed to attract quality internships — and later employers.
“We wanted to ensure that no matter what organization type our IMBAs landed in for internships — multinationals, start-ups, public organizations or non-governmental organizations — Moore School IMBAs would set themselves apart by being able to take on any data analysis task and quickly contribute to their employers’ data-driven decision-making,” managing director Ninh said. “Whether working in proprietary systems, Microsoft Power BI or Tableau, our goal is for our students to quickly adapt. We have seen employment success rates increase as we have now moved into year three of this advanced data skill requirement.”
IMBA internships often result in full-time job offers. The most recent IMBA graduates reported a record-breaking 100 percent job placement three months after graduating. The reported average base salary for IMBA program students was $95,475.
IMBA candidates also have access to the Office of Career Management, a dedicated unit inside the Moore School that helps guide IMBAs to their chosen career or industry.
Beyond one-on-one career exploration, every IMBA student goes through a thorough process of resume and cover letter composition, LinkedIn profile creation and editing, company research training, interview preparation and networking training.
For IMBA alumna Nikita Pandey (’21 IMBA), the Moore School’s Office of Career Management closely assisted with her job search process, which she said was especially helpful since she was an international student from India still adjusting to the cultural differences in the U.S. She was hired the summer after she graduated by Wayfair home goods retailer as a senior analyst for network planning & optimization.
“I was confident about my resume; I felt very confident about all of my skills and my strengths being highlighted and the relevant courses I took,” Pandey said. “I felt very prepared to communicate with anyone from any industry during my job search.”
The intensive career preparation has paid off; recent IMBA graduates have been employed by a variety of industries, from automotive and consumer staples to banking, finance, technology and consulting. Recent examples include adidas, Amazon, Bank of America, BMW, Dell, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, Nike and Walmart.
Along with intentional career preparation, the Moore School’s International MBA covers a gamut of international business with an innovative, data-driven curriculum, top-notch faculty, unmatched study abroad immersion experience and real-world-scenario training. IMBA graduates go on to have illustrious, momentum-building careers in virtually every business sector across the globe.