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You are here HOME Longtime Thunderbird Professor to Lead School’s New Undergraduate Program Design


Longtime Thunderbird School of Global Management ProfessorMary Teagarden, Ph.D., will lead the design, development and evaluation of a planned undergraduate program that the school will launch as part of its global expansion strategy.

“We think we can deliver a fantastic global experience to undergraduate students,” says Teagarden, a global strategy professor who arrived at Thunderbird in 1993.

The program, which is still in the earliest stages of planning, would build on Thunderbird’s academic origins. Thunderbird’s first students came to Phoenix after World War II for undergraduate degrees focused on new opportunities in emerging global markets. Thunderbird offered a Bachelor of Foreign Trade from 1952 to 1963 and a Bachelor of International Management from 1964 to 1970. Undergraduate alumni from this era include Thunderbird Trustee Ken Seward. The new program, tentatively called a Bachelor of Global Business, will serve a similar market, but the model will be modernized to meet the needs of students competing for 21st century jobs in a global economy.

Currently, Thunderbird only offers graduate degrees. To maintain a similar atmosphere on campus, the thinking is that the new undergraduate program will be designed to start students in new domestic or international locations and bring them to the main campus in Arizona for their final year. One possibility is that students could start their studies at a new Thunderbird outpost in the United States. Other students might come from the communities near each of Thunderbird’s planned international campuses in Brazil, Chile, France and Spain, and live at home initially. “Culturally, in many of those locations, that is the tradition,” Teagarden says. “You live at home and you commute to school.”

As the students progress through their programs, tentative plans call for opportunities to transfer to a second international outpost after two years. This will create additional opportunities for language learning and international internships. “The real key in all of this is likely to be internships and real-world experience,” Teagarden says. “You place students who are learning the language in situations where they have to use the language at work, and that is a very powerful combination to accelerate their learning.”

By the time that undergraduate students arrive at Thunderbird’s main campus in their final year, they will be close in age to the students in Thunderbird’s existing Master of Arts and Master of Science programs, who currently have a mean age of 23 years. Nearly all undergraduate students will speak at least two languages when they arrive in Phoenix, and many will have international internships on their résumés. “The idea is that those undergraduates would spend their senior year in the United States,” Teagarden says. “This will help protect the graduate school atmosphere in Arizona.”

The model also will create a rich recruiting source for Thunderbird graduate programs. “Although the curriculum design lies ahead, we are excited by the prospects,” says Thunderbird President Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D.

Like the undergraduate programs that Thunderbird rolled out in the aftermath of World War II, the new version will be unlike anything the world has seen. “We have an opportunity to create the finest undergraduate international business degree in the world,” Penley says. “Thunderbird’s special character and academic heritage, with its integration of business, international studies and language, will form the foundation.”

Teagarden says Thunderbird will stay true to this foundation. “Our rich heritage will be a valuable source of inspiration for the new degree design,” she says.

Other undergraduate programs talk about international experience, but none deliver on the scope and scale of what Thunderbird envisions. “There are a couple of programs that claim to be international, but when you dig below the surface, their campuses are not interchangeable,” Penley says. “They don’t deliver the promise. That’s what we want to do. We want to deliver on the promise of a global education.”



Virginia Mungovan
Public Relations Specialist
Thunderbird School of Global Management 


About Thunderbird School of Global Management

Thunderbird is the world’s No.1-ranked school of international business with nearly 70 years of experience in developing leaders with the global mindset, business skills and social responsibility necessary to create real, sustainable value for their organizations, communities and the world.

Dedicated to preparing students to be global leaders and committed global citizens, Thunderbird was the first graduate business school to adopt a Professional Oath of Honor. Thunderbird’s global network of alumni numbers 40,000 graduates in 148 nations worldwide. The school is sought out by graduate students, working professionals and companies seeking to gain the skills necessary for success in today’s global economy. For more about Thunderbird, visit