Thunderbird School of Global Management, has a sense of war-heroism associated. There is a rich history and exciting legend the school has links to. After all, how can we ignore a college from where the current CEO of PepsiCo has graduated? One can also visit our page professional development course for a detailed view on professional courses.

Today, we shall discuss all about these admirable victories that this particular school has attained.

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From being a Second World War Base to Management education: The journey has been legendary

Arizona State University (Thunderbird) Thunderbird School of Global Management is a general management institution in Phoenix, Arizona. Here are the key notes-

  • Established as an autonomous, private institution in 1946, it was acquired in 2014 by Arizona State University (ASU). 
  • The school derived its name from the Thunderbird Field No. 1, which was a dismantled base of the US Army Air Forces during the Second World War that served as its campus for over 70 years.
  • The school has since relocated to ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus and is scheduled to complete the construction of a new $75 million building in downtown Phoenix by 2021. 
  • By 2018 the school had around 45,000 students, also known as “Thunderbirds” (or “T-Birds”).

What about the education scene in the Thunderbird school of global management? How it all started with military heads sitting on top?

Thunderbird provides graduate-level programs on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, executive education courses at various sites, including Los Angeles and Washington, DC, and two undergraduate degrees with courses taught on ASU’s West campus in Glendale, Arizona.

The American Institute for International Trade was established by Lt. Gen. Barton Kyle Yount, an officer from the U.S. Army Air Forces (AAF) who bought the former Thunderbird Field for one dollar from the War Assets Administration, subject to the condition that the property is used for educational purposes for a minimum of 10 years.

That led to short-lived controversy as the transaction’s propriety was challenged by journalists. Two AAF colonels, Finley Peter Dunne had recruited Yount to the project as head of the Army Air Training Command. Stouder Thompson, who found the United States to be “notoriously short of staff qualified for international exchange” (in Dunne’s words)

Yount accepted that “the young men who went abroad to serve American industry were in many cases totally untrained and unfit to serve their companies and their government.” On April 8, 1946, the school was chartered as a nonprofit Arizona company. Yount and Dunne planned the Glendale site over the next six months, arranged to fund, and restored the physical plant.

Thunderbird school of global management included several airplane hangars, a control tower, faculty recruitment, and students. Students, at the time, were expected to be a minimum of twenty years of age who have completed a minimum of two years above or the equivalent of high school by studying in a college or armed forces. This latter requirement was interpreted to allow military or work experience to replace formal university studies.

Thunderbird School Of Global Management
Thunderbird School Of Global Management

Thunderbird School Of Global Management – The Journey Began

Here is how the journey has been so far:

  • Classes with 285 students and 18 faculty members officially started on 1 October 1946.
  • 98 percent of the students attending the G.I. Bill. Bill. 
  • The first certificates were issued on 14th June 1947. 
  • The curriculum merged business courses with Spanish or Portuguese language teaching and Latin American culture.

A “tripartite curriculum” is composed of international trade, languages, and research of the region. Courses soon grew to include studies of the French language and Western European and “Far Eastern” areas. Thunderbird started awarding the Bachelor of International Trade in 1951 to students who already had undergraduate degrees, with at least three years of coursework.

The majority went on to obtain certificates. Thunderbird school of global management thus became one of the first tertiary institutions offering foreign degrees of study. 

Modernism in traditional management education

In the following part, you’ll get to know how diversification has been introduced as far as the curriculum of the college is concerned:

  • In 1952, a Master‘s degree in International Trade began to be offered and required four semesters of study, as opposed to two semesters for the bachelor’s. 
  • This substituted an earlier system that differentiated between bachelor’s degree course I and course II, and the latter is more advanced, needing one or two additional semesters. 
  • In the following decades, the Master’s degree — renamed as the Master’s degree in International Management (MIM) — began to dominate, while the undergraduate program was rolled out and ceased to be presented by 1975.
  • Accordingly, the Thunderbird school of global management changed its name to the “Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management” (1967), and then to the “American School of International Management” (1973). 

Getting multiple accreditations and getting popular

The American Management Association entered into some sort of partnership with the Thunderbird school of global management, while Thunderbird obtained regional accreditation from the North Central Association in 1969 and 1974.

Accreditation by the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business proved more difficult (and would not be awarded until 1994), as Thunderbird then did not award the MBA degree, and instead stressed the “difference of degree” in its marketing materials.

  • Enrollment rose to over 1000 over the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Thunderbird’s endowment increased as well, reaching US$ 1 million in 1982. 
  • In the late 1990’s it also hit $20 million. 

At the same time, as the international business became increasingly a mainstream topic, Thunderbird began to face competition from other American (and eventually foreign) business schools. 

The lack of affiliation of Thunderbird school of global management has shown major drawbacks, but interest in business education has skyrocketed over time, helping the school thrive. Starting in the 1990s, the school went by the name Thunderbird, the American International Management Graduate School. 

With a new Millenium, newer milestones were reached

Thunderbird saw decreasing enrollment numbers in the 2000s, after hitting a peak enrollment of about 1,600 in the 1990s. Approximately half of the students at Thunderbird school of global management are residents of a nation other than the USA.

This diversity is a huge benefit for the school because students are immersed in a community of cohorts from all over the world that helps to instill the celebrated Global Mentality of the school. However, after 9/11 many overseas students found it extremely difficult to get permission to study in the United States, and this situation had a highly adverse effect on Thunderbird’s enrollment.

State-of-the-art MBA programs come to the menu

Thunderbird school of global management started offering a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in International Management in 2001, replacing the Master of International Management offered earlier. Three years later, after a $13 million donation (part of a pledge originally intended to be $60 million) from the alumnus, the school changed its name into Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management.

The same year Ángel Cabrera was recruited by the school to serve as President. Cabrera oversaw the implementation of their Formal Oath of Honor by the school in 2006. The oath was created for business schools with input from students and faculty and was considered by the school to be the first of its kind. Students sign the pledge upon graduation pledging to behave in the corporate world in an ethical and truthful manner.

The name Garvin had been stripped from the name of the school in 2007. The school has started using the name Thunderbird School of Global Management, building on the Thunderbird brand and emphasizing the concentration of the school on global business.

During that time the name of Garvin was given to the newly created position, the Garvin Distinguished Professor of Global Management Science, and was still used for the Garvin Center for International Management Cultures and Languages and the Garvin Professorship of Entrepreneurship.

School’s logo and the ambition of professional excellence and visionary determination

The school has introduced a logo of a mythical thunderbird with a globe-shaped body as part of the change to the new name. The thunderbird of Native American mythology, incidentally, closely resembles the phoenix of Greek mythology after which the capital city of Arizona is named.

Going ahead in modern and future history

In March 2013, Laureate Education, Inc. announced a planned collaboration with the Thunderbird school of global management. As part of the proposed collaboration, Thunderbird will remain a non-profit entity, exempted as a 501(c)(3) from income tax, but would create a joint educational service company with a for-profit corporation, Laureate. This joint venture will start an undergraduate program and extend the programs online.

Undergraduate students will attend the final year of their undergraduate degree program at Thunderbird school of global management. The proposed collaboration would allow Thunderbird to host events around the world at Laureate campuses, and to set up Thunderbird campuses abroad. The school announced future locations in Paris, Madrid, Brazil, and Chile. Laureate will have no control over her academic decision according to the school.

Thunderbird School of Global Management Notable Alumni
Thunderbird School of Global Management Notable Alumni

Thunderbird School of Global Management Notable Alumni

Thunderbird will also hold the powers to grant degrees. Laureate will therefore be given three seats on the board of the school. Under the leaseback deal, Thunderbird will sell its campus to Laureate. The school would still run from its Glendale campus but would use the sales money to pay off its debts.

Thunderbird school of global management notable alumni will have the opportunity to purchase the campus from Laureate within two years or at the end of the twenty-year lease agreement, the school could repurchase the campus. Laureate and Thunderbird have expected to spend $20 million and $10 million respectively to pay for upgrades to the campus.

Some Thunderbird alumni and board members complained about the proposed agreement, expressing concern about the effect the relationship would have on the image of the school. Many alumni felt the partnership with the Laureate would diminish the value of a Thunderbird degree. In addition, an online petition was signed in protest by alumni in opposition to the proposed agreement.

Some alumni also founded the Thunderbird school of global management Independent Alumni Association which raised concerns about the agreement. Five Thunderbird board members and seven Thunderbird Alumni Network board members resigned following the announcement of the proposed agreement. Some alumni and faculty whose comments had been submitted also accepted the proposed agreement.

Thunderbird School of Global Management Acceptance Rate

The proposed change in structure was accepted by the school board in June 2013, although the proposal was not accepted by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission, the school’s regional accreditor. Thunderbird had confirmed that they expected acceptance of the agreement, as other Laureate schools are accredited by the Commission.

  • As of January 2014, Larry Penley was President of the school and 48 faculty members were hired by the school. Allen J. Morrison was named CEO and Thunderbird’s Managing Director later that year. 
  • The following year, the school signed an arrangement with Arizona State University to be incorporated into the university in a manner similar to a college.
  • Three years later, in 2018, ASU named Sanjeev Khagram as Thunderbird’s Managing Director and Dean and the school has named as thunderbird school of global management sanjeev khagram.
  • ASU and Thunderbird held a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2019 to mark the beginning of construction on Thunderbird’s new global headquarters next to ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on the Downtown Phoenix campus.
  • First classes will be offered in the new building in the fall semester of 2021, as Thunderbird celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Thunderbird school of global management acceptance rate has now been covered here in the article.

Status at ASU 

Thunderbird school of global management is defined as an “Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise Unit.” A unit is said to be broadly based, developing, and disseminating information through ASU, as opposed to a school or college (but like an “institute”). Thunderbird also maintains its own logo, as well as other distinctive marketing clothing.


Historically, Thunderbird school of global management’s degrees included the Bachelor of Foreign Exchange (until 1975), the Master of International Management (until 2001), an MBA in Global Management (until 2016), and executive education programs. Thunderbird has resurrected the undergraduate program (the Bachelor of Global Management) following its acquisition by ASU, phasing out the MBA.

And then, they introduced the Master of Global Management, a graduate non-MBA with many formal concentrations. Even the school offers a curriculum and credential for Micromasters. 

Thunderbird School of Management Ranking
Thunderbird School of Management Ranking

Thunderbird School of Global Management Ranking

Here are some acclaims that the particular school received:

  • Forbes rated Thunderbird as the 54th best business school in the United States in 2011,.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek 2012 study classified Thunderbird as the top foreign business program.
  • Thunderbird was also ranked 5th out of 82 schools surveyed as the most diverse school, based on student responses about the country of origin, gender, and ethnicity of the students.
  • thunderbird school of global management reviews. In 2013, Thunderbird’s executive education curriculum was ranked ninth overall by The Financial Times based on corporate client reviews.
  • The Economist also published ratings for online programs in 2013 and awarded Thunderbird a “good” ranking, one step down from the top ranking of “excellent” by the publication. 
  • In its rankings for 2014, released in 2013, the U.S. In their annual rankings, News & World Report ranked Thunderbird as the best international business school.
  • This was the eighteenth year in a row the school was named top international business program. 
  • Thunderbird was ranked 85th for best business school in the 2015 rankings of U.S. News & World Report, released in 2014, and second in the overall rankings for the international business school.
  • According to a 2019 Times Higher Education / Wall Street Journal article, Thunderbird is currently ranked number 1 in the world for its advanced Masters of Global Management (MGM) degree of management programs.

Thunderbird school of global management Campus 

The original Thunderbird campus was based on Thunderbird Field No. 1 of the former World War II airfield. 

  • The airfield was established in 1941 and used to train pilots, located in Glendale, Arizona, a Phoenix suburb. 
  • The school has used existing airfield facilities, and many of the classrooms at the school are situated in the former barracks of the airfield.
  • Arizona Christian University is the current owner and occupant of the former campus in Glendale, Thunderbird. 
  • The air traffic control tower at the airfield is also on campus. At the instigation of three Thunderbird students, who raised $2.5 million for the project, the tower underwent a renovation project beginning in 2007.

For the renovation, the school was given the Ruth Byrne Historic Preservation Award by Glendale City. The tower was occupied by the campus shop, student lounges, and a bar until the school moved to the new building of Phoenix. Thunderbird will feature a rooftop bar constructed in the style of the iconic original. 

In 2011, the campus replaced one of the then-70-year-old airplane hangars.

The house, known by the school as the Thunderbird Activity Center, was used for special events and tests but was decided after a campus inspection not to meet safety requirements anymore. 

In Moscow, Russia, Dubai, the UAE, Geneva, Switzerland, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Tokyo, Japan, Thunderbird also has satellite centers of excellence.

In the next several years, the school has expected to open many new satellite centers for excellence (hub offices) with a target of providing a global network of 20 satellite hubs by 2025. The hubs will promote advanced English education, training, interaction with the alumni, and community and executive education.

Using the latest emerging technologies, including virtual reality and augmented reality, all hubs will be connected to the global headquarter facility in downtown Phoenix. The aim is for headquarters to act as a digital and physical space that will interact with students, faculty, and staff the school’s global network of 45,000 alumni.

Other buildings located on the original campus included the International Business Information Center (IBIC), Thunderbird’s library, and a student dining hall. The campus at the school also featured a Welcome Wall, installed in 1992, and displayed greetings in various languages.

ASU announced on December 12, 2017, that the historic campus of Thunderbird will be closing, and the school will be relocated to a more modern facility in downtown Phoenix. The City of Phoenix decided to spend $13.5 M in the new building as part of the move, which is a record investment for Thunderbird.

The remaining costs of the $75 million project are covered by ASU and Thunderbird using funds from tuition and selling of property owned by ASU, including the old Glendale campus and another parcel in nearby Scottsdale .


Often referred to as Thunderbirds or T-birds, students, alumni, and faculty are. Undergraduates call themselves “Underbirds.” Students run a newspaper for the school called Das Tor.

All graduates have been expected to take at least 4 semesters of a foreign language for over 50 years, or show comparable skills. Other student events include several sports clubs run by Thunderbird. The Thunderbird Rugby Football Club, formed in 1976, is among the longest standing.

A competition, the Thunderbird Rugby Invitational, is regularly held by the club with other business schools from around the World. 

Every year the Barton Kyle Yount Award is presented to one graduating class student in recognition of the founder and first president of the school. The award shall be determined on the basis of scholarship, achievement, and character.

Students’ Achievements

Thunderbird school of global management has a whopping number of high profile graduates, including the likes of Bob Dudley, retired CEO of BP; Walid Chammah, former chairman of Morgan Stanley; and Luis Alberto Moreno, former Colombian Ambassador to the United States and new chairman of the Inter-American Development Bank. 

Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit all 193 member states of the United Nations, graduated from the college in 2010.

Ramon Laguarta is the CEO of PepsiCo at the moment and Mark Smucker is CEO of The J.M. Smucker Group. Even Carlos Neuhaus, who led the Pan American Games in Lima in 2019. A comprehensive list of noteworthy alumni is posted on the Thunderbird website. 

Thunderbird has nearly 45,000 members who work in 150 countries with more than 12,000 different organizations.

Thunderbird School of Global Management Tuition
Thunderbird School of Global Management Tuition 

Thunderbird School of Global Management Tuition Fees

The fees applicable for in-state students for the MBA program are generally updated and are made available in detail at the time of admission each year. 

The average cost for in-state tuition and fees is $41,609 a year, among all MBA programs offered in Arizona. The total cost of in-state tuition and online MBA program fees is $34,054 per annum.

The average GMAT score for entering Global Management School is N / R * while the average GMAT score for Arizona MBA schools is 591.67, and the average GMAT score for joining an online GMAT program is 538.33, respectively.

The future is endless

The exciting achievements of the school’s students talk a lot about the potential of its future alumni. And if you have that determination, you too can be one of them. We hope that the thunderbird school of global management admission details that we have provided below would prove helpful for you. You can visit our website for further details.