Economists discuss a trade deal.

What Is International Commerce? Understanding Career Paths


More than 80% of the world's purchasing power is outside of the U.S., according to the American Foreign Service Association. American organizations wanting to participate and compete in the global marketplace need staff with a knowledge of foreign policy, different cultures, and global economics to create effective international business relationships.

Advanced degrees like an online Master of Arts in Diplomacy help prepare graduates to support global organizations by providing the competencies and skills to build effective relationships with international populations including the public, media, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

International Commerce at a Glance

International commerce is defined as transactions between companies or organizations in different countries. Compared to domestic commerce, international commerce is considerably more complex due to cultural differences, licensing agreements, global supply chain relationships, and country regulatory compliance. 

Professionals with education in diplomacy are valuable to any international commercial enterprise due to their knowledge of foreign policy, multicultural management, and the international economic system. These professionals can use their background to source opportunities that provide their organizations with a competitive advantage. Training in diplomacy provides the tools to achieve successful, profitable, and sustainable relationships with international business partners.

As international commerce involves transactions that cross sovereign nations with different regulations and political environments, international organizations ensure fairness and standard practices. The World Trade Organization supports global trade and commerce by outlining trade rules, settling disputes, and negotiating agreements between countries. The International Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of businesses by providing training, resources, dispute resolution services, and representation at an intergovernmental level.  Being familiar with these organizations is important for individuals involved in international commerce.

How Norwich Prepares Students for International Commerce

For professionals looking for roles that involve working with multinational organizations, Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in Diplomacy program provides the knowledge to support a career in international commerce. This advanced degree offers online flexibility for learning, allowing individuals to complete the program in as few as 18 months. The International Commerce concentration within this degree program offers a curriculum that helps students work with international groups such as the media, government agencies, and NGOs. The following courses are included in this concentration:

  • Economics and the International System: Examines the various factors affecting international commerce over the years such as globalization. Students also study the international financial network and the debate free-trade and protectionist policies.
  • Global Commerce and the International System: Provides a well-rounded understanding of how law, politics, and other internal and external forces affect international commerce. Studies cover internal factors that influence leadership decisions in global organizations.
  • Cross-Cultural Management in the International System: Explores key human resources management topics relating to different international organizations, including corporate, government, and non-profit entities. Students study the differences in intercultural human resources and develop skills in conflict management, resolution, and avoidance.
  • Global Corporate Diplomacy: A positive reputation is essential to creating effective business relationships with international constituencies. This course helps students develop the analytical skills to influence public opinion and create goodwill in a cross-cultural environment. 
  • Diplomacy and Communication: Explains the vital role that clear, culturally-aware communication plays in diplomatic situations. Coursework also explores communications challenges such as adapting to technology and the importance of transparency.
  • Diplomacy in Practice: Delves into the active methodologies used to convert foreign policy goals into actionable strategies, focusing on foreign policy and the structure of the U.S. system.

Skills and Career Paths in International Commerce

Understanding international commerce is essential when pursuing a career in international commerce. These professionals must anticipate global trends and economic patterns to help their organizations seize opportunities and set realistic goals. Interpersonal and negotiation skills also are critical to success as these individuals work with international populations to create positive working relationships. An advanced degree in diplomacy hones these different skills.

Potential careers for graduates who hold an advanced degree in diplomacy such as Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in Diplomacy include news director, economist, and program director.

  • News Director: A news director provides the strategic direction for a news outlet, selecting featured stories and guiding operations. News directors with training in diplomacy can pursue opportunities in government agencies with news outlets, such as the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Responsibilities related to this position include disseminating information to the public regarding national and international government affairs. The median annual salary of a news director is $57,252, according to September 2019 data from the compensation website PayScale.
  • Economist: An economist researches market trends and economic conditions, and analyzes data concerning the production and sale of goods and services. Economists with diplomacy background can provide insight to support global transactions or operations. The median annual wage of an economist was $104,340 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Program Director (non-profit and NGOs): Program directors are responsible for overseeing an organization’s strategic direction. Individuals in these positions use diplomacy-related skills when serving as liaisons between an organization’s board of directors and employees. Sometimes considered the face of the organization, program directors represent an organization at external events. They also communicate and maintain relationships with key stakeholders such as government representatives and reporters. The median annual salary of a non-profit program director is $54,865, according to September 2019 PayScale data.

Become a Skilled International Commerce Professional

As the nation's first private military college, Norwich University is uniquely positioned to deliver relevant and applicable programs in diplomacy that empower graduates to pursue careers in international commerce. Explore the online Master of Arts in Diplomacy to discover how you can prepare to take on exciting opportunities with multinational organizations.

Recommended reading

Type of Diplomacy Positions and Their Importance to Improved International Relationships
What Is Public Diplomacy? A Look at a Growing Field
Effective Communication in International Diplomacy


Six Elements of Effective Economic/Commercial Diplomacy, American Foreign Service Association
Master of Arts in Diplomacy, Norwich University
International Commerce, Investopedia
Who We Are, World Trade Organization
About Us, International Chamber of Commerce
What is Diplomatic Leadership? Houston Chronicle
The 6 Competencies Global Leaders Need to Succeed, Forbes
Essential Skills for a Career in International Relations, Norwich University
Average News Director Salary, PayScale
Economists, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Average Program Director, Non-Profit Salary, PayScale
The Role of an Executive Director at a Nonprofit Organization, Chron


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