Skip to main content

ASU to offer Thunderbird global affairs master's degree at DC location

Yearlong executive program is aimed at midcareer professionals in nation's capital

June 07, 2019

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2019.

Arizona State University will soon begin accepting students into its first degree program based entirely at its 1-year-old Washington, D.C., location.

The executive master’s of arts in global affairs and management degree will be offered starting in January 2020 by the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and is intended for professionals in the Washington area.

The program is offered in partnership with the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“We’ve developed a transdisciplinary, solution-oriented degree focused on global innovation,” said Sanjeev Khagram, dean and director general of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Thunderbird, which has been offering degrees in international business for more than 75 years, became part of ASU in 2014 and is based at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

The yearlong master’s degree program will be held at the Ambassador Barbara Barrett and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center at Arizona State University, a few blocks from the White House. ASU already offers several academic programs at its Washington, D.C., location, including the International Rule of Law and Security Program for law students, the Cronkite News Washington Bureau for journalism students, and the Capital Scholars Program for students in the School of Politics and Global Studies. The site also is home to the McCain Institute for International Leadership.

But this will be the first time that residents in the Washington area can earn an ASU degree at the location. Khagram said that Thunderbird alumni encouraged the idea.

“We have regularly had dozens and dozens of folks from the D.C. area join us for our full-time, immersive, core management graduate degree,” he said. “We have more than 2,000 alums in the area and when we talk with them, we heard, ‘It would be great if there was a degree program in D.C. so people didn’t have to fly back and forth.’”

Khagram said the degree is intended for people who are looking beyond their own career.

“It’s a truly global degree for midcareer professionals in the public, private or nonprofit sector who want to understand other sectors, engage other sectors or move to another sector,” he said.

“A lot of folks in government want to move to the private sector, or vice versa. They want a global degree that’s critical for that next phase and they want to continue to work.”

The 30-credit degree will be completed in one calendar year, from January to December, with weeklong immersive courses the first and last week, and class meetings on Fridays and Saturdays every other week the rest of the year.

Students can choose three pathways: global business, taught by Thunderbird faculty; global law, taught by faculty from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and global policy, with Watts College faculty. Students will take three courses in their pathway.

The partnership with Thunderbird on the new degree was a natural fit for the law school, which already has several experts in international law and the existing rule of law externship in Washington, D.C., according to Diana Bowman, a professor of law and associate dean for international engagement in the law school.

“We recognize that we’re not training lawyers to be trade experts. We’re arming these students with the knowledge that everything they do in business has a legal dimension to it and you can’t just guess,” said Bowman, who is also associate dean in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at ASU.

“We’re giving students the tools to know when they need to talk to a legal professional.”

The three courses in the law pathway are international law, human rights law and international trade law, according to Adam Chodorow, the Jack E. Brown Professor of Law and associate dean of academic affairs at the law school.

“Those courses are fundamental to anybody who is engaged with a global mindset and who wants to interact on the global stage,” he said.

“You have to know something about international law. Is it binding on nations? Is it binding on companies? How is it enforced?

“Human rights are a critically important part of everything we should be doing and there are issues involved in hiring and building,” he said.

“Trade is at the heart of much of the interaction between countries and you have to understand the World Trade Organization and other organizations that set rules for global commerce."

Chodorow said the hope is that law school students who are in Washington, D.C., could take some of the courses that will be offered.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity that builds on ASU’s culture of working across disciplines and across schools,” he said.

Top image: The new executive master's in global affairs and management degree will be offered starting in January 2020 by the Thunderbird School of Global Management. The yearlong program will be held at the Ambassador Barbara Barrett and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center at Arizona State University, a few blocks from the White House. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

More Law, journalism and politics


A gavel sits on top of a laptop.

ASU Law launches AI focus across multiple degree programs

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University — ranked the nation’s most innovative university since U.S. News and World Report created the category in 2015 — has embraced…

People seated at a conference table smiling.

Business journalists continue to earn premium salaries; 70% report salary increases

Business journalists continue to earn an impressive premium over their general-news peers, while demographic data indicate a strong cohort of female business journalists is making its way up the…

A group of students deliberate in a classroom

ASU hosts first student-led Model Constitutional Convention

Imagine a congressional floor debate between varying political parties that not only puts personal attacks aside, but is civil, respectful and productive. That’s what took place over the weekend at…