Thunderbird has trained global leaders and managers for over 75 years. Originally known as the American Institute for Foreign Trade, Thunderbird was chartered on April 8, 1946, at a World War II airbase in Glendale, Arizona called Thunderbird Field, where pilots from around the world came for training during wartime. General Barton Kyle Yount obtained the airfield with the express purpose of developing a school for professionals focused exclusively on international trade and global affairs. The guiding principle established at Thunderbird’s founding is best summarized in a phrase coined by original faculty member Dr. William Lytle Schurz, “Borders frequented by trade seldom need soldiers.”
Thunderbird became the world’s first-ever higher education institution to focus exclusively on international leadership by concentrating its curriculum on global management and business skills, international political economy and regional business environments, languages and cross-cultural communications. The School has often been called a “mini-United Nations” because of its diverse and inclusive global student body. Thunderbird is now known worldwide for its vast and engaged alumni network of more than 50,000 graduates in nearly 150 nations around the globe. Thunderbird has more than 170 alumni chapters that meet regularly in 70 countries.
In 2015, Thunderbird became a unit of the Arizona State University enterprise, combining Thunderbird’s multi-decade heritage of developing global leaders with ASU’s expansive resources. The School relocated to ASU’s vibrant Downtown Phoenix (Arizona, USA) campus in 2018. The move brought the world’s No. 1 ranked Master’s in Management (WSJ/THE) under the umbrella of the nation’s No. 1 ranked school for innovation (U.S. News & World Report).
In the first-ever rankings of their kind, Thunderbird was recently named No. 1 in the world for international trade by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the premier global higher education analyst organization. Scoring 100 out of 100 points, this top ranking places Thunderbird ahead of Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, domestically, and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, internationally. In partnership with the Hinrich Foundation, QS selected Thunderbird’s Master of Global Management degree program as the “world’s best international trade programme,” in its QS International Trade Rankings 2023.
Ushering in the Thunderbird 4.0 era, is the newly opened F. Francis & Dionne Najafi Thunderbird Global Headquarters building, spanning 110,000 square feet over five floors on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. The building is designed to bring the world’s leading technology directly to the hands of Thunderbird students and
faculty. The facility enables students to connect with the world and experience what they seek to learn and study in real-time.
Thunderbird’s global footprint has also grown over the years as well, with operations now in Geneva, Dubai, Tokyo, Seoul, Nairobi, Jakarta, and nearly 15 others, Thunderbird’s Center of Excellence regional offices ensure that the School is now the world’s first truly “global multinational business school,” committed to training the next generation of global leaders.
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.