MA in International Trade

Prepare for a multinational and cross-cultural career focusing on the evolving patterns and politics of international trade and investment, the locational strategies of international businesses and the social and environmental impact of these activities.

The Department of Geography helps you customize your International Trade education with high-impact experiential learning and extracurricular activities to develop the skills that employers demand. We introduce you to new professional networks in the industries and organizations that interest you the most.

infographic that says, 10 Skills Employers Want 1. Quantitative and Qualitative Research 2. Project Management 3. Technology 4. Data Collection and Analytics 5. Leadership 6. Professional Conduct 7. Communication 8. Critical Thinking 9. Global Perspective 10. Diversity and Cultural Appreciation.

Be Career Ready

Employers often cite the skills profile of applicants as the most important factor in their recruitment and job offer decisions. 

Here is how we help you develop 10 critical skills for leaders in international trade:

1. Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Help solve real-world problems impacting the lives of citizens around the globe, and learn from world-class researchers. Apply statistical techniques to uncover and explain patterns of trade, investment, and development. Develop advanced qualitative research skills to gain an understanding of the processes, perspectives and motivations that drive individual and organizational behavior through in-depth interviews and related methods.

Publish and promote your research through UB’s Center for Trade, Environment and Development (CTED). The Center supports research on trade and investment policies and patterns through the lens of social and environmental outcomes. Its current research is focused on the following core themes:

2. Project Management

Acquire the knowledge and skills to initiate, plan, execute, control, and close projects to achieve specific organizational goals. Negotiate reasonable and achievable deadlines and milestones, and report results to multiple stakeholders.

Choose to complete a Competency Portfolio or Research Project to showcase your ability to design, manage, implement, and report on a project. Recent examples of student projects based on internships and partnerships with private, public and non-profit sector organizations include:

  • “Fair trade? Artisan weavers and the social non-profit model in Guatemala” by Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez, MA ’17. Read more about Christine’s work in Guatemala as director of a natural/eco-dyed indigenous women-owned weaving association called TEIXCHEL and the ballet school she founded there, Transformación Ballet.
  • “Export barriers of small and medium-sized manufacturers in the Buffalo-Niagara region: An exploratory study” by Xin Wang, MA ’17

3. Technology

A key driver of globalization, and the pace of technology advancements continues to accelerate. Understand the impact of science, technology, and innovation on economic and social development at an international scale.

An example of recent student project:

  • “Globalization of the solar energy industry: How policy, technology, and production networks influence locations of supply, demand, and innovation” by Mychal Ostuni, MA ‘15

4. Data Collection and Analytics

Review data in detail, observe patterns, perform advanced calculations, and draw logical conclusions. Compile, analyze, and prepare reports on data sets to identify correlations, explain international trade phenomena and forecast market trends, applying mathematical models and statistical techniques.

Examples of student projects include:

  • “U.S. medical device exports to China” by Yiwen Li, MA ’14
  • “American small and medium-sized enterprises and the opportunities and barriers in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement” by Lauren McCarthy, MA ’11
  • “Globalization of cosmetics corporations:  Understanding the embeddedness of corporate internationalization strategies” by Yeji Moon, MA ’17
  • “Comparison of US-China intellectual property rights disputes between 1989 and 2009, prior to and following China's accession to the WTO” by Hengyuan Yao, MA ’16

Work independently or with faculty members on major research projects, helping them identify issues and produce groundbreaking and publication-worthy scholarship and applied research. Primary areas of faculty and student research include:

  • Trade and Investment Patterns: Focus on topics such as trade creation and diversion from foreign direct investment (FDI), US medical exports to China, Asian FDI in the US, US FDI in the London legal market, and ethical havens and global production patterns
  • Industry Studies: Focus on topics such as biofuel research and development networks, pharmaceutical industry, Islamic financial centers, global solar energy industry, apparel production networks, ethical diamond industry, and rice production and trade
  • Trade and Investment Policy: Focus on topics such as export promotion and import-substitution, World Trade Organization dispute resolution, trade governance in Asia, skilled migrants and immigration policy, the diffusion of International Financial Reporting Standards, and small business and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Trade and Investment Impacts: Focus on topics such as innovation and technology transfer, regional economic development, productivity effects of immigrant diversity in US cities, health, food security, and agricultural trade, and gendered impacts of apparel trade policies

5. Leadership

Rise to the challenge by gaining experience and leadership skills in some of the hundreds of University at Buffalo extracurricular and governance organizations, civic groups and volunteer activities.

Prove your abilities and make powerful professional connections through student engagement opportunities with local, national and international professional organizations. For example:

6. Professional Conduct

Gain insight into the demands and expectations of employers through credit-bearing and, in some cases, paid internships. Students displaying knowledge, professionalism and a solid work ethic are oftentimes offered full-time positions.

Below are just a few of the organizations that regularly seek UB student interns and graduates:

  • Advancing Arts & Culture Buffalo Niagara
  • American Express
  • The Binational Alliance
  • Ecology & Environment Inc.
  • EU Chamber of Commerce in China
  • HSBC
  • Maya Traditions Foundation
  • Moog
  • New Era Cap
  • NYS Department of Transportation
  • Pfannenberg Incorporated
  • Praxair
  • Town of Amherst
  • US Census Bureau
  • US Department of Commerce

Interact with academic and industry professionals through department-sponsored events such as:

  • UB Departmental Colloquium Series. Prominent scholars from across the globe are invited to UB to participate in a series of other lectures, seminars, and social events, providing professional networking opportunities for graduate students.
  • Guest lectures and workshops sponsored by the Center for Trade, Environment and Development. Recent lectures focused on Asia’s evolving role in the global economy, and global climate politics and responsibility. A recent workshop also convened scholars from Canada, the United States, Europe, Singapore, and Australia to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

7. Communication

Enhance your ability to author effective critical communication pieces through required class projects, research papers, poster presentations, and articles submitted for review and publication by professional organizations. Practice professional presentation skills in seminar classes before you take the stage at regional and national conferences.

For example, Professors Trina Hamilton, Monica Stephens, and Marion Werner attended the Critical Geography Mini Conference at Penn State. Joining them were six graduate students who presented on a diverse variety of themes, from food systems planning and neighborhood change in Buffalo to new geographies of aid and investment among countries in the global South. The conference was a unique opportunity to network and share ideas with other students and faculty in the region working on research projects that are concerned broadly with space and social justice.

Showcase your research, fieldwork, projects, and internships at department-sponsored activities such as:

  • Geography Awareness Week
  • Student Research Symposium

Connect with peers, faculty members, alumni and potential employers through the Department of Geography’s active Facebook page and LinkedIn group.

8. Critical Thinking

Use logic and reasoning to solve complex problems by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Showcase your ability to design, manage, operate and report on topics typically required for professional employment, highlighting your competence across several areas for your Master’s Competency Portfolio or Research Project. Recent student examples include:

  • “Greenhouse gas emissions and beef production: Potential consequences of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement” by Amy Hinchcliffe, MA ’17
  • “Possibilities and limitations of strengthening small farmer food production in the Caribbean through value chain integration with tourism” by Naiima Khahaifa, MA ’16
  • “Hard or soft power? Understanding China’s aid and investment flows to the continent of Africa” by Caitlyn Sears, MA ’17
  • “Corporate social responsibility: Diversity of global oil and gas multinationals in Indonesia” by Ted Sielski, MA ’13

9. Global Perspective

Expand your world view and prepare to work in the interconnected world market and global systems.

  • Learn from faculty members who ask questions such as, “How do free trade agreements impact diet and health?” Marion Werner, associate professor of geography, led research published in August 2019 in the journal, Social Science and Medicine. They studied the trade deal between the U.S. and smaller, developing countries in Central America and its impact on the availability of non-nutritious food in them.  Learn more.
  • Conduct original research with global implications. Participate in the UB’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) study center, a member of the United States APEC study center (ASC) consortium. Twenty-one of such university centers may be found in the United States to encourage institutional networks and academic research on trade and investment in the region.
  • Participate in study abroad experiences to further your understanding of trade in different contexts.
  • Network with national and international scholars who frequently present guest lectures on campus and partake in conferences to expose students to a multitude of views.
  • Experience a diverse learning environmet, with students and faculty in the Department of Geography representing multiple continents and countries, including the United States, Canada, China, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, India and Germany.


10. Diversity and Cultural Appreciation

Gain a better understanding of cultural differences among peoples and the geographical relationships underlying them.

  • Alumnus Bridget Paul, BA/MA ’12, has made a career out of her cross-cultural understanding and international trade background, researching and working in the international relocation and language services industries in the United States, China and Taiwan.

Participate in projects with local community groups and study abroad to further your understanding of the human condition in different contexts and its effect on international trade issues. In turn, national and international scholars frequently come to campus to present guest lectures. For example, the Department of Geography 2018 Colloquium Series includes:

  • Dr. Henry Yueng, Distinguished Professor, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, "Rethinking East and Southeast Asia in the new global economy"
  • Dr. Conghe Song, Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "The socioeconomic effects of China's forest restoration and conservation programs"

How much can you earn?

Bar graph, Salary: $152,000 high, $82,000 average base salary, $47,000 low .

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2017), the median annual wage for management analysts was $82,450. The highest 10% earned more than $152,000.

What career is in your future?

* Trade Policy Analyst
* International Development Specialist
* Trade Compliance Officer
* Logistics Planner
* Community Relations Manager
* Environmental Consultant
* Transportation Analyst
* Sustainability Planning Specialist
* International Market Analyst
* Customs Broker
* Market Research Analyst

International Trade Alumni

In addition to those mentioned in the examples above, here are a few more International Trade alumni who are making a difference in their profession and their communities. They're looking forward to helping you expand your professional network.

Infographic with a map icon and text that says, "Where will you go from here?".