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CISB Curriculum

The Certificate of International Studies in Business curriculum helps students develop a global business mindset.

The dynamic, integrative CISB curriculum allows students to create an academic program tailored to their unique interests. It combines international business courses with advanced language training, study/work abroad, in-depth area studies, and an international business practicum. This package of knowledge and skills is ideal preparation for a career in global business.

The notation “Certificate of International Studies in Business” is posted to the academic record (transcript) when the student has earned the BABA degree and completed all CISB requirements.


CISB requires 24 credits of electives in international business and a functional skills area (Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Human Resources Management, Information Systems, Marketing, or Operations & Supply Chain Management). Some of these credits may be satisfied by courses taken for an option. The electives consist of the following:

International Business Environment (4 credits)

Complete one course that deals with the environment of international business, including government policy, law, and social and economic conditions.  The major distinction between the courses meeting this requirement and area studies is the focus on business and a broader scope (regional or global). Courses satisfying the requirement need not be taken in the Foster School or at the UW, but must be approved by the CISB faculty director. Courses offered in the Foster School include:

I BUS 330        Business Environment in Developing Nations
I BUS 340        Business Environment in Industrial Countries
I BUS 440        Business in Asia
B ECON 426    Competing in the Global Economy

Certain Special Topics (I BUS 490) and Independent Study (I BUS 499) courses may also apply to this requirement with approval of the faculty director. Additional courses for consideration are those in departments such as the Comparative History of Ideas, Economics, Geography, Political Science, and the Jackson School and Law School. Further information on any of these courses can be found by searching the UW Course Catalog or individual department websites.

Global Business Skills (4 credits)

Complete one course in a functional area that provides skills of particular importance in the conduct of global business. Courses satisfying the requirement need not be taken in the Foster School or at the UW but must be approved by the CISB faculty director. Courses offered in the Foster School include:

MKTG 470       International Marketing
B ECON 427    International Finance
FIN 428            International Financial Management
OPMGT 443    Inventory and Supply Chain Management
I BUS 480        Multinational Operations Management

Certain Special Topics (I BUS 490) and Independent Study (I BUS 499) courses may also apply to this requirement with approval of the faculty director.

International Business Practicum (4 credits)

CISB students apply the concepts learned in the classroom to real-world international business situations through the International Business Practicum. The practicum may be satisfied by taking a four-credit internship with international business content or one of the four-credit courses listed here.

Courses Satisfying the International Business Practicum Requirement

I BUS 496 – International Business Practicum – 4 credits
Teams of 3-4 students work with local companies during an academic quarter and present their findings and recommendations to the partner company in written and oral reports at quarter’s end. The projects for student research may span the gamut of international business issues—market choice, market entry strategies, investment analysis, product differentiation, organizational structures, information systems, compliance with foreign government regulations, feasibility studies, country comparisons, etc.

I BUS 495 – International Business Internship – 4 credits
An internship with a company, not-for-profit organization, or government agency in an international business capacity. Learn more about taking I BUS 495 here on the Undergraduate Career Services website.

Certain Special Topics (I BUS 490) and Independent Study (I BUS 499) courses may also fulfill this requirement with pre-approval of the CISB Faculty Director. You may substitute a non-credit internship for the requirement. Please see the CISB program adviser for more information on the petition process.

BA Functional Skills Area (12 credits)

At least 12 credits must be completed from one of the option areas: Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Human Resources Management, Information Systems, Marketing, or Operations and Supply Chain Management. Students may complete an option but are not required to do so.

I BUS 491 – CISB Track Seminar (1 credit per quarter when in residence)

All CISB students must register for I BUS 491 every quarter, excluding summer. The only exception to this requirement will be for students who are studying or working abroad to satisfy their international experience requirement. More information about the seminar is in the CISB Language Tracks section below.

There is an increasing demand for employees with foreign language ability in this globalized economy. According to a Michigan State University survey, “one in three US mid and large –sized companies have international operations and/or serve multilingual and multicultural clientele. 93% of these employers seek employees who can work effectively with customers from different countries and cultures.”

CISB students are required to take advanced coursework in a foreign language to prepare them to work effectively across cultures. The study of language not only enhances cross-cultural communication skills and understanding, but also increases brain function and demonstrates intellectual curiosity. Business professionals with foreign language proficiency are better able to develop meaningful relationships and manage cross-cultural teams.

CISB students often take a minor in their target language and some even do a double degree.

Language Tracks: Foreign Language

CISB language tracks include Mandarin Chinese, Custom (other, e.g., Arabic, Korean, Italian), French, German, Japanese, Spanish and a US Track for international students.

The CISB program requires students to reach a functional level of proficiency in a language that is not native to the student. Native speakers are defined as those who lived in a track-related language-speaking area during childhood up to and after the age of 12. The degree of proficiency required may differ somewhat depending on the language, but the following are general guidelines.

The student should be able:

  • to function successfully in a variety of simple social situations and be able to be understood by native speakers in ordinary conversation.
  • to understand connected sentences when the general topic is known, for example a broadcast news story on non-technical topics.
  • to write a simple business letter.
  • to read a newspaper article on a business topic.

Proficiency can be demonstrated in one of the following ways:

  1. a 2.7 GPA in the third year of college-level track-related language
  2. studying or working in a country where that language is spoken for six months or more after two years of language study
  3. proficiency by examination
  4. any other method that is approved by your track adviser

A business language course may substitute for third-quarter, third-year language.

U.S. Track: English Communication (12-15 credits)

U.S. Track students are required to take three courses in English communication to increase their proficiency, two of which must be in oral communication and one of which must be in written communication. Examples of suitable oral communication courses include: DRAMA 251 Acting, COM 270 Interpersonal Communication, COM 220 Introduction to Public Speaking, and COM 334 Essentials of Argument. The written communication courses can be any of those approved for the Foster School writing requirement but is in addition to this requirement. Students may petition for courses not included here to fulfill the English Communication requirements.

The best way to learn about a country, its people, and business culture is to live there. CISB students are required to study abroad in the target language through either Foster School exchanges or one of the many other programs available through the UW. They can, alternatively, take an internship abroad.  Through the overseas experience, students develop linguistic and cross-cultural communication skills as well as attributes important to employers: adaptability, flexibility, self-awareness, tolerance, and cross-cultural sensitivity. They also expand their cultural horizons and appreciation of diversity.

Language Tracks: International Experience

CISB requires demonstrated experience functioning in an environment where track-related language is spoken. This may be satisfied by ten weeks of approved foreign study or a foreign internship after completing at least two years of language study or achieving comparable linguistic proficiency. Other experiences may be substituted for this requirement by approval from your track adviser. Students are strongly encouraged to study or work in the foreign language. Foreign travel as a tourist or foreign study during high school does not qualify.

U.S. Track:  U.S. Internship Experience (0-4 Credits)

US Track students are required to take a 100-hour minimum internship in the U.S. instead of studying abroad.  It may be taken for credit as a 495 course depending on the internship. U.S. track internships must be approved by the faculty director.

Students admitted to CISB should meet with both the CISB program adviser and an adviser in Undergraduate Programs to plan for their international experience upon admission to CISB. They are also encouraged to meet with a staff person in the Global Business Center to explore study abroad and internship programs.

CISB students are admitted to language tracks, which are groups of students with common language learning goals. There are seven language tracks: Chinese, Custom (other), French, German, Japanese, Spanish and a U.S. Track for international students. The U.S. Track prepares students to work effectively in the U.S. business environment. It provides students with broad exposure to international business practices and conditions, training in English communications, in-depth American studies, and internship experiences. Tracks meet weekly to network, learn about global business practices and issues, and enjoy cultural activities.

Language Track Seminar

Students register for I BUS 491, the CISB Seminar, every quarter in which they are on campus. Track meetings take two forms:

  • Individual track meetings: Students practice foreign language, learn about business culture and practices in their target region, share study abroad experiences, and network with fellow track members as well as exchange students and alumni.
  • All-CISB meetings: Tracks join together to learn from business professionals about general international business practices and careers.
“CISB was one of the best experiences I’ve had at the University of Washington. Being a part of the Spanish track made me feel a sense of community and true connection to the Foster School.” – Erin Hollingshead

In winter quarter, all tracks compete for the Grand Prize in the annual Foreign Market Strategy Competition. The competition gives students the chance to put their business, foreign language, and cultural skills to use in developing market entry strategies for companies. Business get the chance to scout talent, receive fresh ideas, and educate students about the real world of international business.

Business Language Resources

Area Studies (7-10 credits)

Complete two courses in area studies outside the Foster School with a minimum of seven credits. These courses should deepen understanding of the cultural, societal, political and/or economic issues in the student’s geographic area of specialization and may be taken at a foreign university. Courses must be at 300-level or above unless taken abroad.

Examples of suitable courses sometimes offered at the UW are:

JSIS A 467 China’s Rise and Its Global Implications
HSTAS 454 History of Modern China
GEOG 337 Migration and Development in China

EMEA (French, German)
FRENCH 376 Culture, Politics, and Society in France
JSIS A 302 The Politics of Cultures of Europe
ECON 475 Economics of the European Union
HSTEU 432 Germany 1914-1945

JSIS A 437 International Relations of Japan
AAS 370 Japanese Americans: Race, Culture, Discrimination, Gender
JAPAN 380 Contemporary Japanese Art and Society

CHSTU 359 U.S. Latino Politics
SPAN 360 Contemporary Spain
GEOG 330 Latin America: Landscapes of Change

Custom – select courses from departments such as:
Comparative History of Ideas
Jackson School of International Studies
Political Science

GEOG 302 The Pacific Northwest
POL S 303 Public Policy Formation in the United States
HSTAA 345 Making Modern America: Business and Politics
AES 461 Comparative Ethnic Race Relations in the Americas