What is an International Finance Degree?

International finance, also referred to as international monetary economics, or international macroeconomics, is the study of monetary interactions between two or more countries. It analyzes the interaction between the goods market and the money market, interest rates and foreign exchange rates, and currencies and their purchasing power.

Degree programs in the field explore these subjects and teach students how flows of capital originating in other parts of the world influence all aspects of our lives, including the price we pay for food and clothes, the amount of money we need to fill the gas tank of our cars, the construction of our homes, the security of our jobs and businesses, the ownership of our banks, the activity of our country’s stock markets, and the nature of our legal system.

In other words, the curriculum reveals how the world of international finance affects standards of living and influences the futures of individuals, communities, and nations.

Program Options

Bachelor’s Degree in International Finance – Four Year Duration
The bachelor’s level program in international finance provides students with an understanding of the contemporary economic and financial environment. Students develop competencies in the valuation of a firm, investment opportunities, and financial instruments on an international basis. They master the fundamentals of portfolio creation and allocation of financial assets, including money, loans, bonds, stocks, and currencies.

These are the kinds of courses that comprise the undergraduate international finance curriculum:

  • Introduction to the Business Experience – an international business simulation designed to introduce business concepts; students will make management, marketing, human resources, operations, facilities, finance, and corporate social responsibility decisions that allow them to meet their firm’s objectives over ten fiscal years
  • Applied Statistics – introduction to the tools of statistical analysis, combining theory with data collection and computer-assisted laboratory work; topics include exploratory data analysis and data transformation, hypothesis-testing, and analysis of variance
  • Introduction to Calculus – introduction to differential and integral calculus
  • Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – survey of the ethical issues that arise from the operation of business in a globalized and interconnected economy; exploration of various management disciplines – marketing, operations, strategy, organizational behavior, finance, and accounting – from the perspectives of human rights, political involvement by business, sweatshop labor, the export of hazardous products, deceptive marketing practices, bribery, whistleblowing, religious and social discrimination, corporate governance, cross-cultural differences, sustainability and environmental issues, corporate social responsibility, and consumer society
  • Principles of Microeconomics – the role played by relative market prices in our society and the forces of market supply and demand in determining these prices
  • Principles of Macroeconomics – examination of the determinants of the levels of national income, employment, interest rates, and process; the instruments of monetary and fiscal policy and their domestic and international repercussions
  • Money, Banking, and Financial Markets – the economic functions and structures of financial asset markets, financial intermediaries, and money; the role of the central bank in macroeconomic performance of open economies
  • Financial Accounting – introduction to the financial accounting cycle and financial reporting for corporations; how to measure and record accounting data and prepare financial statements; hands-on analysis of a company’s financial statements and comparison to a competitor company
  • Management and Organizational Behavior – introduction to basic management / organizational behavior concepts; understanding the attitude and behaviors on the individual level and the group level within organizations; recognizing organizational patterns within a complex social situation
  • Corporate Finance – application of the principles of strong fiscal planning and control to asset investment and debt and equity financing decisions; sound leveraging in view of the time value of money and the effects of taxation and inflation
  • International Financial Markets – introduction to the international monetary system and foreign exchange markets; the essentials of financial derivatives (options, futures, and swaps) and their applications; hedging theories
  • International Business Law – examination of common law, civil law, socialist law, and Islamic law; the civil law module emphasizes French contract law and explores the law of the European Union; the legal aspects of international business transactions, using major international and European projects as case studies
  • Investment Analysis – introduction to the processes and analytical tools necessary for investment decision making
  • Computational Finance – introduction to applied computational methods for finance and the valuation of financial firms and elements of capital structure: equity, bonds, and options and additional methods for optimization of securities portfolios and hedging risk
  • Business Integration Capstone Project – students will compete in a complex international business simulation designed to allow them to demonstrate mastery of course material

Graduate Certificate in International Finance – Varying Durations
The international finance grad certificate is targeted at students with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, Economics, or Business Administration.

The program offers courses that study money and banking in the modern world, examine the monetary systems of different nations, examine the roles of central and commercial banks, and discuss the policy choices of governments and central banks and their effects on domestic interest rates and foreign exchange rates.

Here is a sample of topics that may be covered in an international finance graduate certificate curriculum:

  • Macroeconomics Overview
  • Role of Central Banks and Regulation
  • Money and Banks
  • History of Monetary Regimes
  • Global Corporate Valuation
  • Global Equity Investments
  • Comparative Corporate Governance
  • Banking Regulation and Innovation in China
  • Financial Crises and Regulation

Master’s Degree in International Finance – One to Two Year Duration
International finance master’s students gain expert knowledge of the forces that shape and move the global economy. Many schools offer specialization options and an opportunity to study abroad at partner universities in Europe and/or Asia. Students must write a thesis based on independent research or complete a capstone project as the final requirement of graduation.

Here is a snapshot of the master’s level international finance curriculum:

  • Advanced Corporate Finance – the financing options available to companies and their tax implications, the tools available to manage financial risk, the choice of a company’s capital structure, evaluation of the company’s cost of capital and its relevance to investment decisions, evaluation of financial performance, and the factor influencing the choice of dividend policy
  • Financial Analysis and Decision Making – financial and management accounting, financial analysis and financial decision making; topics include the preparation and interpretation of the principal financial statements; accounting requirements and practices for the internal planning, monitoring, management and control of a business; and business finance, including sources of finance, financial management, and stock-market analysis of performance
  • Financial Research Methods – introduction to statistical and econometric methods that are used to model financial data; strengths and weaknesses of the modeling techniques; designing and estimating appropriate statistical econometric models using the statistical software package ‘Stata’
  • International Finance and Capital Markets – the international monetary system, the theories and markets for foreign exchange, foreign exchange exposures and international financial arbitrage*, the financing of the global firm and determinants of foreign investment decisions
    (*arbitrage is the simultaneous purchase and sale of the same asset in different markets in order to profit from tiny difference in the asset’s listed price)
  • International Financial Markets and Investments – investment appraisal techniques, equity instruments, bonds and other fixed income instruments, derivative instruments, synthetic instruments, pricing and valuation of equity, asset pricing models, risk management using financial derivatives, and financial market microstructure
  • Banking and Financial Intermediation – analysis of the economic function of banks and other financial intermediaries, with emphasis on the fundamental instability of banks; the impact of asymmetric information on the functioning of financial services markets; the foreign exchange market and theories of how exchange rates are determined; the causes of recent major international financial crises and the global regulatory response
  • Portfolio Analysis and Management – the principles and practice of portfolio management, from the perspective of both the individual investor, and the professional fund manager employed by an institutional investor, such as a mutual fund, pension fund, or hedge fund; willingness to tolerate risk as a key determinant of the optimal investment strategy

Degrees Similar to International Finance

Business Administration
Business administration is about overseeing a business’s finances, staffing, and contract negotiations. Degree programs in the field, therefore, teach students how to plan, organize, and direct all the activities of an organization.

Economics
Economics asks wide questions about world economies, how governments should respond to financial crises, how stock prices and exchange rates are set, and how to help people living in poverty. The degree field is focused on how to use the concepts and theories of economics to study and solve real-world problems.

Finance
In very simple terms, the finance field is about helping businesses, organizations, and individuals make money. Degree programs in finance, therefore, teach students about investing, financial and estate planning, risk management, interest rates, insurance, and taxes. Their objective is to produce graduates who are ready to help both commercial and retail clients reach their short- and long- term financial goals.

Hospitality Management
Degree programs in hospitality management teach students how to operate hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that serve business travelers and vacationers. Coursework may vary from one curriculum to another, depending on whether the program offers general hospitality management training or is focused on a specialty area, such as travel agency operations, restaurant management, or hotel management.

International Business
Students of international business study business from a global perspective. They learn how to work cross-culturally, how to manage multinational businesses, and how to turn local and national companies into international corporations. Coursework often includes some foreign language studies, as well.

Skills You'll Learn

  • A multidisciplinary approach – understanding that perspectives on issues may vary from country to country, region to region, and individual to individual
  • Abiding by policies and procedures to meet legal and ethical requirements
  • Accounting and finance
  • Analyzing and mitigating risk
  • Business-oriented computer applications
  • Collaboration – capacity to work with many parties: government officials, business and organization leaders, and diplomats
  • Communication – knowing how to convey information to different kinds of audiences
  • Critical thinking and creativity – the ability to think critically leads to successful analysis, creativity, and ultimately to solutions
  • Cross-cultural appreciation – appreciation for different political values and cultural expectations facilitates negotiation and collaboration
  • Decision making
  • Flexibility and negotiation skills – open-mindedness that will secure the most desirable outcomes
  • Foreign language skills – the ability to communicate in one or more foreign languages is always valuable
  • Managing alliances and partnerships
  • Managing cash flow
  • Marketing
  • Organizational leadership / project planning and implementation

What Can You Do with an International Finance Degree?

With their understanding of the complexities of global financial markets, international finance graduates can pursue careers in the areas of financial strategy, investment banking, tax, investment analysis, securities trading, accountancy, and financial management.

These are examples of the most desirable jobs in the field, based on a compilation of career ads:

  • Accountant in one of the world’s 23 income-tax free countries, including Bahrain, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cayman Islands, Kuwait, Monaco, Oman, Qatar, The Bahamas, and The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Hedge Fund Analyst in London
  • Investment Banking Division Analyst at a top US investment bank
  • Junior Investment Banker at a boutique firm in New York City
  • Private Equity Associate in the US
  • Personal Assistant at a major international bank
  • Junior Oil and Gas Stock Trader in London
  • Analyst at a private wealth management firm
  • Regional Financial Manager at an oil company
  • Associate Analyst with a ratings agency
  • Group Finance Director at a mining company based in Dubai
  • Junior Operations Analyst at a hedge fund
  • European Equities Money Manager
  • Anti-Money Laundering Analyst in Dubai
  • Financial Analyst in Asia
  • Junior Execution Trader for a boutique agency in London
  • Investment Banking Division Analyst at an independent investment bank
  • Trader’s Assistant at a hedge fund in London

Salary

Find out what graduates typically earn.

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