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Thunderbird School of Global Management

Thunderbird School of Global Management
Motto We educate global leaders who create sustainable prosperity worldwide.[1]
Established 1946 (1946)
Type Private
Endowment $26.6 million[2]
President Larry Penley
Academic staff 48[3]
Students 1,015[4]
Location Glendale, Arizona, United States
Campus 160 acres[5]
Website .edu.thunderbirdwww

Thunderbird School of Global Management is an 501(c)(3) business school located in Glendale, Arizona. It is a privately owned school and offers graduate-level degrees, including Master of Business Administration and other Master's degrees. The school offers programs at their campus in Arizona and online for full-time students and working professionals. Thunderbird was founded in 1946 by Lieutenant General Barton Kyle Yount, and is located on Thunderbird Field No. 1, a former military airfield from which it derives its name.

Thunderbird is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • 1990s and 2000s 1.2
    • 2010s 1.3
  • Programs 2
    • Rankings 2.1
  • Campus 3
  • Students 4
    • Alumni 4.1
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Early history

Thunderbird School of Global Management was founded in 1946 as The American Institute for Foreign Trade.[6][7] The school was founded by Lieutenant General Barton Kyle Yount in Glendale, Arizona on the former World War II military airfield, Thunderbird Field No. 1,[8][9] which had been purchased by Yount for one dollar on the grounds that he use the property for educational purposes for a minimum of 10 years.[10] Yount became the school's first president when the school was chartered on April 8, 1946. Classes officially began on October 1, 1946 with 98% of enrolled students attending on the G.I. Bill. The first degrees were awarded on June 14, 1947.[10]

The institute focused on international management and was the first graduate school to train students in global business to work for the U.S. government or overseas for American businesses.[6][11][12] Early in its history, Thunderbird implemented a language program focused on Spanish and Portuguese, using the same instructional methods the Army had used during World War II. The school also created an international studies program early on, focused initially on Latin America, but later expanding to include other parts of the world, such as Asia.[13]

In the school's early years, Thunderbird awarded two degrees, a Bachelor of Foreign Trade and a Master of Foreign Trade, although after 1975 the school no longer offered the undergraduate degree.[10] The American Institute for Foreign Trade later changed its name to theThunderbird Graduate School of International Management before again changing its name to the American Graduate School of International Management in the 1970s.[7][8]

1990s and 2000s

Beginning in the 1990s, the school went by the name Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management.[14] After reaching a peak enrollment of around 1,600 in the 1990s, Thunderbird saw declining enrollment numbers in the 2000s.[15] The school also saw a decline in the number of foreign students enrolled as a result of stricter visa rules.[16]

In 2001, the school began to offer a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in International Management, replacing the previously offered Master of International Management.[10] Three years later, the school changed its name to Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management, following a $60 million donation from alumnus Samuel Garvin. The same year, the school hired Ángel Cabrera to serve as president.[17] Cabrera oversaw the school's 2006 adoption of their Professional Oath of Honor. The oath was developed with input from students and faculty and was considered by the school to be the first of its kind for business schools. Students sign the pledge upon graduation promising to act ethically and honestly in the business world (similar to the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors).[11][18][19]

Garvin's name was removed from the school's name in 2007. The school began to use the name Thunderbird School of Global Management, to focus on the Thunderbird brand and highlight the school's focus on global business.[12][20] At this time, Garvin's name was given to the newly created position, the Garvin Distinguished Professor of Global Management Research, and was still used for the Garvin Center of Cultures and Languages of International Management and the Garvin Professorship of Entrepreneurship.[12][20] As part of the transition to the new name, the school adopted its current logo of a phoenix with a globe-shaped body.[20]


In 2011, after efforts by a Thunderbird alumnus, Arizona began selling Thunderbird license plates.[21] The following year, Larry Penley became the president of Thunderbird.[22]

In March 2013, the school announced a planned partnership with 501(c)(3),[2][23] but would establish a joint educational service company with Laureate, a for-profit company. This joint company would launch an undergraduate program and expand online programs. Undergraduate students would attend Thunderbird for the final year of their undergraduate degree program.[23][24] The planned partnership would allow Thunderbird to host events at Laureate campuses worldwide and establish Thunderbird campuses abroad. The school announced Paris, Madrid, Brazil and Chile as potential sites.[2][25][26][27] According to the school, Laureate would have no influence over academic decisions for the school. Thunderbird would also retain degree-awarding powers.[23][25][27] However, Laureate would be given three seats on the school's board.[2][23]

Under the agreement, Thunderbird would sell their campus to Laureate in a leaseback agreement. The school would continue to operate from their Glendale campus, but would use the money from the sale to pay off its debts.[2][23][27] Thunderbird alumni would have the option to purchase the campus from Laureate within two years or the school may repurchase their campus at the end of the twenty-year lease agreement.[2] As well, Laureate and Thunderbird had planned to invest $20 million and $10 million respectively to provide for campus improvements.[2][27]

The proposed agreement was protested by some Thunderbird alumni and board members who have expressed concern about the impact that the partnership will have on the school's reputation.[23][24][25] In response, alumni in opposition of the proposed agreement signed an online petition in protest.[2][23][24] Additionally, some alumni formed the Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association, which expressed concerns over the agreement.[23] Following the announcement of the planned agreement, five Thunderbird board members and seven members of the Thunderbird Alumni Network board resigned.[25][28] The proposed agreement was also supported by alumni and faculty whose statements have been presented on the school's website.[23][28]

The planned structure change was approved by the school's board in June 2013, although The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the school's regional accreditor, did not approve the proposal.[23][25][27] Thunderbird had stated that they anticipated that the agreement would be approved, as other Laureate schools are accredited through the Commission.[23]

As of January 2014, the school's president is Larry Penley[27][29] and the school employs 48 faculty members.[3]


Thunderbird's academic programs focus on global business and related subjects. Programs offered include full degree programs such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Global Management and other Master's degree programs.[30][31] Thunderbird requires all students enrolled in full-time programs to be proficient in two languages before graduation.[2] The school is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.[27][32]

In 2013, Thunderbird introduced a twelve month MBA program.[24] This program models the year-long MBA programs that are more common at European schools and was developed in response to prospective students' concerns about program length and cost.[29][33] The school also offers their MBA as a 15-month program which includes an internship or as a 21-month program which includes both an internship and an additional term in a specific concentration.[34]

In addition to their traditional MBA program, Thunderbird offers an executive MBA program, which is designed for experienced working professionals, and a distance MBA program called Global MBA Online.[30][35] Thunderbird also offers a Master of Science in Global Management and a Master of Arts in Global Affairs and Management for recent undergraduates or early-career professionals wanting to enter global business. These degree programs do not require prior work experience that the traditional MBA program does.[36] Thunderbird also offers a Master of Science in Global Marketing and a Master of Science in Global Finance.[31]

The school also offers short courses and certificate programs. These courses are offered through the school's Thunderbird for Good and Executive Education programs. The school founded the Thunderbird for Good program in 2005 to offer business education to non-traditional students. Many Thunderbird for Good programs have focused on providing business training to women in developing countries. The program has operated in 26 countries since its foundation.[37][38] Thunderbird's Executive Education programs focus on professional development courses for businesses and their employees.[30][35][39] The programs were ranked as the ninth best executive education program overall by The Financial Times in 2013.[40]

Throughout its history, the school has offered a number of dual-degree and partnership programs with other universities including Indiana University, Vermont Law School and Peking University in Beijing.[41][42][43]

Additionally, Thunderbird operates the Najafi Global Mindset Institute, which developed the Global Mindset Inventory in 2008. The inventory assesses an individual's skills and ability to work with international businesses.[44][45]


Business School Ranking
U.S. News & World Report[46] 88
Worldwide MBA
Business Insider[47] 41
CNN Expansion[48] 57

Forbes ranked Thunderbird as the 54th best business school in the U.S. in 2011,[49] and a 2012 report released by Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Thunderbird as the top international business program.[50] Thunderbird was also ranked as the 5th most diverse school out of 82 schools surveyed, based on student responses about students' country of origin, gender and ethnicity.[51] In 2013, The Financial Times ranked Thunderbird's executive education program ninth overall based on corporate client feedback to The Financial Times.[40] Also in 2013, The Economist released ratings for online programs and gave Thunderbird a rating of "good", which was one step down from the publication's top rating of "excellent".[52] In its 2014 rankings, published in 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked Thunderbird as the best international business school in their annual rankings, marking the eighteenth consecutive year the school was named top international business program.[50] In U.S. News & World Report's 2015 rankings, published in 2014, Thunderbird was ranked 85th for best business school, and second in the overall rankings for international business school.[53][54]


The Thunderbird campus is located on the former World War II airfield Thunderbird Field No. 1. Located in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, the airfield was built in 1941 and was used to train pilots.[8][9] The school has utilized the existing buildings on the airfield and many of the school's classrooms are located in the airfield's former barracks.[8]

The airfield's air traffic control tower is still present on campus. Beginning in 2007, the tower underwent a restoration project at the urging of three Thunderbird students who raised $2.5 million for the project. The school was awarded the Ruth Bryne Historic Preservation Award by the city of Glendale for the renovation. The tower is currently occupied by the campus store, student lounges and a pub.[9]

In 2011, one of the then-70-year-old airplane hangars on campus was removed. The building, named the Thunderbird Activity Center by the school, had been used for special events and exams, but was determined to no longer meet safety standards following an inspection of the campus.[9]

Other buildings on campus include the International Business Information Centre (IBIC), which is Thunderbird's library, and a dining hall for students. The school's campus also features a Welcome Wall, which was built in 1992, and displays greetings in different languages.[11]


Students, alumni and faculty are often referred to as Thunderbirds or T-birds.[8][17] As of Fall 2013, the school has 1,015 students enrolled, 530 of whom are enrolled in full-time programs.[4] Of full-time students, 27 percent are women and 68.5 percent have come from locations outside the United States.[4] Students run a school newspaper named Das Tor.[55] Other student activities include Thunderbird's several sports clubs. One of the longest lasting is the Thunderbird Rugby Football Club, founded in 1976. The club regularly hosts a tournament, the Thunderbird Rugby Invitational, with other business schools from around the U.S.[13]

Every year, one student of the graduating class is awarded the Barton Kyle Yount Award in honor of the school's founder and first president. The award is determined on the basis of scholarship, accomplishment and character.[10]


Thunderbird has a number of notable graduates, including

  • Thunderbird School of Global Management

External links

  1. ^ "About Thunderbird". Thunderbird School of Global Management. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Melissa Korn (9 July 2013). "Struggling Thunderbird Business School Finds a For-Profit Lifeline".  
  3. ^ a b "Thunderbird School of Global Manangement". The Princeton Review. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Student Experience". Thunderbird School of Global Management. 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Taylor Ellis (11 July 2013). "Inside Thunderbird B-school's chronic decline".  
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Companies Seek Graduates for Foreign Trade Careers".  
  7. ^ a b "Arizona Desert International School Proves Success".  
  8. ^ a b c d e Mike McCloy (11 June 1978). "Businessmen in training to be effective abroad".  
  9. ^ a b c d Kristena Hansen (27 August 2011). "Glendale Thunderbird School of Global Management tears down World War II-era hangar".  
  10. ^ a b c d e "Thunderbird History". Thunderbird School of Global Management. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c Mandy Oaklander. "Thunderbird: A Virtual Tour".  
  12. ^ a b c d Angela Gonzales (5 February 2007). "Thunderbird school changes name as it seizes new opportunities".  
  13. ^ a b c Abe Jacob (2006). Thunderbird: Taking Flight in Global Leadership. Compass Group. pp. 79–81.  
  14. ^ "Dan Quayle to teach at Glendale graduate school".  
  15. ^ Eun-Kyung Kim (25 October 1992). "School teaches business students to think and act like foreigners".  
  16. ^ "News from the schools — Thunderbird a-go-go?".  
  17. ^ a b "T-Bird Goes to Spain for a Chief".  
  18. ^ Francesca Di Meglio (23 September 2006). "A Crooked Path Through B-School?".  
  19. ^ "News from the schools — I'll be good, I promise".  
  20. ^ a b c Della Bradshaw (6 February 2007). "Thunderbird drops Garvin name".  
  21. ^ Angela Gonzales (5 August 2011). "Thunderbird School looks for votes on new license plate design".  
  22. ^ Mike Sunnucks (12 April 2013). "Executive profile: Parlaying education experience into new challenges".  
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Elizabeth Redden; Paul Fain (10 October 2013). "Going Global".  
  24. ^ a b c d Matt Symonds (15 July 2013). "Thunderbird: A Case Study for B-School Managers".  
  25. ^ a b c d e Louis Lavelle (30 July 2013). "In Wake of Laureate Deal, Thunderbird Board Exodus Continues".  
  26. ^ B.R. (8 July 2013). "Thunderbirds have gone".  
  27. ^ a b c d e f g Della Bradshaw (10 July 2013). "Thunderbird to teach MBA in Paris and Madrid with Laureate".  
  28. ^ a b Louis Lavelle (30 September 2013). "Thunderbird Alumni Board Members Quit".  
  29. ^ a b Francesca Di Meglio (12 March 2013). "Thunderbird Curriculum Overhaul Trims MBA to Size".  
  30. ^ a b c Michael Gossie (12 October 2013). "Educators Say Executives Can Increase Workplace Value".  
  31. ^ a b "Graduate Degrees". Thunderbird School of Global Management. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  32. ^ "Thunderbird School of Global Management". The Financial Times. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  33. ^ B.R. (18 March 2013). "Thunderbird shorts the market".  
  34. ^ "Full-time MBA in Global Management". Thunderbird School of Global Management. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  35. ^ a b Louis Lavelle (18 March 2013). "Thunderbird Joins With For-Profit to Offer New Programs".  
  36. ^ "Thunderbird adds two degree programs".  
  37. ^ Sherry Anne Rubiano (23 December 2006). "Thundershop Helps Back World Artisans".  
  38. ^ Nora Brown (8 March 2013). "Celebrating Thunderbird for Good on International Women's Day".  
  39. ^ "About Us Executive Education". Thunderbird School of Global Management. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  40. ^ a b Angela Gonzales (13 May 2013). "Thunderbird School ranked by Financial Times among best for business".  
  41. ^ Erin Zlomek (27 November 2008). "Spotlight on: Thunderbird School of Global Management".  
  42. ^ "Degrees". Vermont Law School. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  43. ^ a b "Jonathan Singh becomes youngest Thunderbird graduate".  
  44. ^ Daniel Fogel (23 July 2013). "2013 HCI Global Talent Management Summit Part 5: The Essential Attributes of Global Leadership". Human Capital Institute. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  45. ^ Janel Shoun-Smith (8 October 2012). "Business college debuts Center for Global Connectedness and Collaboration". (Lipscomb University). Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  46. ^ "Best Business Schools".  
  47. ^ "The World's Best Business Schools".  
  48. ^ "Ranking:Los Mejores MBA en el mundo 2013".  
  49. ^ Kurt Badenhausen (3 August 2011). "The Best U.S. Business Schools".  
  50. ^ a b Mike Sunnucks (14 March 2013). "Thunderbird named No. 1 international business school".  
  51. ^ Geoff Gloeckler (28 January 2013). "MBA Rankings: Top Schools for Diversity".  
  52. ^ John A. Byrne (28 May 2013). "America’s Top Online MBA Programs".  
  53. ^ "Best Business Schools". U.S. News & World Report. 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  54. ^ "Best International Business Schools". U.S. News & World Report. 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  55. ^ "About Das Tor". (Das Tor). Retrieved 21 January 2014. 


See also

Thunderbird has 40,000 alumni who work for more than 12,000 different organizations across 140 countries.[2][12] The alumni association, the Thunderbird Global Network, was founded in 1984. The various chapters of the network hold monthly events for alumni.[13]

[43].Inter-American Development Bank and the current president of the Ambassador of Colombia to the United States, former Luis Alberto Moreno and [2];BP, the current CEO of Bob Dudley [2]

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