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One-year MBA: A degree for the 21st century

Thunderbird is taking its No. 1-ranked MBA program to new heights in fall 2013 with the launch of a curriculum that infuses a shorter format, cutting-edge delivery and more affordable pricing into its long-standing global offering.

“Building on our nearly 70 years of success in global management education, the new curriculum keeps Thunderbird  on the forefront of market trends in a changing global economy and in an ever-growing competitive business education landscape,” says Thunderbird President Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D. He said students today have less time and are competing in a fierce labor market. “They are choosing affordable programs that can get them back into the workforce quickly with the critical skills and knowledge demanded in today’s global marketplace,” he says.

The new program was crafted not only to meet the changing needs of its students, but also those of employers — the school’s ultimate customer, who more than ever say they want global leaders with strong analytical skills. “The school has designed the new curriculum with an even greater focus on developing graduates who can quickly apply their learning and who can easily combine analytical and quantitative skills with their global business knowledge,” Penley says.

The new full-time MBA program starts with a core curriculum that now can be completed in 12 months for about $20,000 less than the former 20-month program. The new program comes with a price tag in the mid-$60s, whereas the former 20-month program cost in the mid-$80s.   Because students can choose to customize their MBA with various business concentration areas, internships or additional global learning experiences, actual cost will vary. The new curriculum is delivered in condensed, intensive, theme-based modules designed to enhance interaction between student and professor and improve learning outcomes. The module-based courses mean students take fewer classes at one time, allowing them to dive deeper into the coursework and for faculty to assign fewer, more demanding assignments.

The new curriculum also incorporates innovative, cross-enterprise courses that approach the same case studies from two different global management disciplines so that one case can be studied and analyzed from two perspectives. This is designed to improve course integration and absorption of material, which gives the student knowledge of individual disciplines — such as finance and marketing — in a context that allows them to see how they work together in an effective business environment.

While Thunderbird always has incorporated global learning opportunities abroad, the new curriculum has expanded the length of those global experiences and is now adding multi-disciplinary, on-location coursework to provide students with an integrated look at the context, industries, firms and functions within a specific region of the world. The global experiences give students opportunities to learn on multiple continents in both developed and underdeveloped economic regions.

During the multi-week course abroad, students will meet with multiple corporations and agencies and have the opportunity to develop a globally focused project for one organization. Students can complete more than 12 weeks of study abroad in the one-year track and up to four more weeks of out-of-country study with an extended track. Inside and outside the classroom, Thunderbird always has delivered on a truly global experience, Penley said, explaining that global experiences, global faculty and global learning with other students from around the world always has given Thunderbird a competitive edge over other MBA programs.

The new curriculum builds on that with a holistic approach that is a strategically choreographed progression through every facet of international management. This is done through a fusion of intricate management coursework, cross-cultural insight, regional studies and foreign language components. It includes hands-on, experiential learning that puts academic theory into actionable practice.

“Thunderbird has been recognized time and again for being the best in international business,” Penley said. “We aren’t looking to change that. This new curriculum ensures that the school, its graduates and the businesses they work for will be prepared for global business today and in the future.” The new Thunderbird MBA was reshaped by a team of faculty with input from employers, alumni and students. It was approved Feb. 1, 2013, by the Thunderbird Board of Trustees.

Program highlights

  • One-year MBA: Rigorous program covers all courses needed to succeed in global business. Students can choose to enhance and extend their learning experience with various concentration areas or internships. The one-year MBA allows students a faster, more affordable option for earning this world-class degree.
  • Module-based format: Integrated, aligned curriculum is delivered via six, themed modules over three trimesters.
  • Cross-enterprise courses: Students study the same case from two different global management disciplines so that one case can be studied and analyzed from two perspectives.
  • Focus on employer needs: Greater emphasis on quantitative and analytical skills. Core disciplines are taught early in the program to assist job searches.
  • Extended global learning: The “Thunderbird Global Experience” is a new multi-week, applied learning experience abroad. It pairs two faculty members to provide students with an integrated look at the context, industries, firms and functions within a specific region of the world.
  • Flexibility: Students can expand their program by selecting areas of concentration. They also can opt for internships and additional experiences abroad.
  • Pre-program preparation: Before students arrive on campus, online boot camps allow them to gain a baseline understanding of management disciplines. Once they get to Thunderbird, students take a two-week orientation designed to launch them into their MBA studies.
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