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Overview

Thunderbird School of Global Management is the world’s premier leadership and management school. We are much more than a school, we are a worldwide network of leaders, managers, entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs innovating across the private and public sectors to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

As part of Arizona State University, ranked No. 1 “Most Innovative School” in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for six years in a row, Thunderbird draws on a vast spectrum of disciplines of excellence to empower leaders across sectors to advance inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide. Thunderbird advances inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide by educating and influencing global leaders and managers who maximize the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for business, government, society, and the environment.

For 75 years, Thunderbird has produced leaders capable of tackling the world’s greatest challenges. As the world continues innovating, and technology changes the way we live and work, Thunderbird is developing nimble, ethical, global leaders who can seize the opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution to create sustainable prosperity worldwide. Now a part of Arizona State University, Thunderbird brings the world’s #1-ranked Master’s In Management to the nation’s No. 1 “Most Innovative School” (U.S. News & World Report).

Our Vision

Thunderbird School of Global Management advances inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide.

Why Thunderbird?

Learn why Thunderbird is the vanguard or global business, leadership, and management education

Image of Thunderbird Professor Lena Booth at a laptop.
Image of an alumni standing in front of the Thunderbird School of Global Management's Thunderbird logo at the Pub in the new Global Headquarters.

Our Worldwide Community

Thunderbird’s worldwide community of graduates is uniquely equipped to make a difference in this era of rapid change and disruption. The School leverages the resources and talent of our alumni to guide, advocate and support the achievement of our collective mission.


Thunderbird offers our alumni the opportunity to future-proof their skills through lifelong learning opportunities and by connecting them with each other in a global network of experts. 

Our Regional Centers of Excellence

With a rapidly expanding network of satellite Centers of Excellence in all regions, Thunderbird delivers cutting-edge and fit-for-purpose programs across the globe. Our network of Centers of Excellence from Los Angeles to Tokyo, and Moscow to Nairobi provides a truly global presence that sets Thunderbird apart by facilitating academic offerings in major commercial centers around the world, connecting and engaging our worldwide alumni network, and supporting international recruiting.

Dean Sanjeev Khagram with Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed at Thunderbird School of Global Management's Dubai Center of Excellence in the Dubai Global Innovation Center.
Vintage image of pilot in a propeller plane on Thunderbird School of Global Management's old headquarters.

The Evolution of Thunderbird

Thunderbird 1.0: Founded in 1946 on the grounds of a deactivated airbase (Thunderbird Field No. 1), Thunderbird was the first graduate management school focused on global business.


Thunderbird 2.0: The 1960s proved to be a time of global expansion for the institution. Thunderbird enjoyed steady growth and with that came a sense of identity in the world of international business education.


Thunderbird 3.0: By the 1980s, Thunderbird had risen to become a major player in the corporate and academic arenas, ranking #1 in the world for international management.


Thunderbird. 4.0: In 2014, Thunderbird joined Arizona State University, bringing the world’s #1-ranked Master of Global Management program under the umbrella of the university ranked the No. 1 “Most Innovative School” in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. With a new global headquarters on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus and Centers of Excellence around the world, Thunderbird is now strategically focused on delivering the world’s finest leadership and management education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Our History

Thunderbird has been a top-ranked international management school for more than 70 years, and today Thunderbird continues producing leaders capable of tackling the world’s greatest challenges. As the technological innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution alter how we live and work, Thunderbird is developing nimble, ethical, global leaders across sectors and disciplines who are equipped to shape sustainable businesses, economies, cultures and environments around the world for this new era.

Originally known as the American Institute for Foreign Trade [AIFT], Thunderbird was chartered in Glendale, Arizona on the site of a World War II airbase, Thunderbird Field, where pilots from around the world trained during wartime. General Barton Kyle Yount obtained the airfield with the express purpose of developing a school focused exclusively on international trade and global relations. He was named Thunderbird’s first president and established a vision for the school that remains today—built on the phrase coined by original faculty member, Dr. William Lytle Schurz: “Borders frequented by trade seldom need soldiers.” With that, Thunderbird’s mission of educating global leaders who create inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide was born.

As AIFT, Thunderbird became the world’s first higher education institution to specialize in international management by concentrating curriculum on cross-cultural communication, regional business studies and hands-on, real-world training in global business nuances.

By 1955, two degrees were offered: a Bachelor of Foreign Trade and a Master of Foreign Trade. The Bachelor’s program was eventually discontinued and the Master’s program evolved into a Master of International Management (MIM) and later into an MBA in Global Management.

In 2014, Thunderbird became an independent unit of the Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise, combining Thunderbird’s elite heritage of developing global business leaders with ASU’s expansive resources. In 2018, Thunderbird relocated to ASU’s vibrant Downtown Phoenix campus with plans for construction of a new global headquarters facility scheduled to welcome students in the Fall of 2021 as Thunderbird celebrates its 75th anniversary.

As part of the merger with ASU, Thunderbird transformed its MBA program into an innovative Master of Global Management (MGM). Thunderbird now offers this unique degree as a full-time campus program, an Online MGM and an Executive MGM. The degree portfolio also includes the prestigious Executive Master of Global Leadership and Strategy, the Online Master of Applied Leadership and Management as well as two unique bachelor’s degrees: the Bachelor of Global Management and the Bachelor of Science in International Trade, both of which are delivered on ASU’s West campus.

Often called a “mini-United Nations” because of its diverse and inclusive global student body, Thunderbird is also known worldwide for its elite and highly engaged alumni network of more than 45,000 global leaders in nearly 150 nations. Thunderbird’s global presence has expanded over the years as well, with satellite operations now in Geneva, Moscow, Dubai, Seoul, Jakarta, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.

An illustration capturing an imagination of Thunderbird in 2096

Thunderbird 2096

At Thunderbird we never stop imagining what a better world could look like nor how Thunderbird can continue to evolve to help make that a reality. During our 75th anniversary celebrations throughout 2021, we have come together to image what Thunderbird could look like in another 75 years, 2096. Checkout our vision of the Thunderbird School of Intergalactic Management.

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