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Who You Will Meet in the Tufts Online GBA Program

January 24, 2024
A Singapore shipping terminal loaded with crates, with the Singapore skyline in the background.

The Online Master of Global Business Administration (GBA) program from the Fletcher School at Tufts University attracts an uniquely diverse student body from varied professional backgrounds, nationalities, ages, and locations. That’s because its cross-disciplinary approach goes beyond the basics of finance, strategy, and marketing. International business professionals emerge from the program with a solid grounding in social, political, legal, and economic principles, all taught from a global perspective. The Fletcher School’s Online GBA program also builds a foundation for private, public, and social sector service, preparing graduates to work in development banking, impact investing, social enterprise, and NGO management. 

Who Attends the Online GBA From Tufts University?

Current participants and alumni of the GBA program include students from across the United States and around the world. In recent years, Belgium, China, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Latvia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom have all been represented in the student body. They speak a host of languages, range in age from early 20s to 70, and are typically pretty evenly split in terms of gender.

They also represent a vast range of experience. In the past, employment sectors represented included: 

  • 41 percent private
  • 25 percent public
  • 12 percent other
  • 17 percent nonprofit
  • 6 percent international/multilateral organizations

They average 13 years of work experience with employers that include:

  • Barclays Bank New York
  • Dell EMC
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Peace Corps
  • Permanent Mission to the United Nations
  • U.S. Army and Navy

Their jobs range from analyst and CEO to Army finance officer, director of international business development, and vice president of procurement and logistics.

Working hand-in-hand and engaging in weekly live-session discussions with such a diverse group exposes students to an array of business cultures: national and international, public and private sector, military and non-military, small business, corporate, and nonprofit. As a result, they learn what the business world looks like from a remarkable range of people, places, and positions. 

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The student profiles below provide a closer look at the people you can expect among your classmates in the online GBA program. They are based on interviews that appear elsewhere on this website.

Tiara Durham

Tiara Durham lives in Philadelphia, where she works as product director for a large global pharmaceutical company. She has extensive experience as a marketing strategy executive, holding multi-disciplinary commercial roles in Fortune 100 global healthcare companies. She has spearheaded commercialization pilot programs for a sensor-connected respiratory medicine and mobile platform.

Tufts’ Online GBA program has given Tiara new perspectives on decision making and product growth: “Three courses have been instrumental in helping me retool, stretch my thinking, and quickly apply concepts to business problems: International Strategy and Innovation, Decision Analysis for Business, and Corporate Finance help to flip problems on their heads and create a four-dimensional perspective.” She also values “topics such as global economic politics and international macroeconomics help contextualize the current global economy” because they “raise provocative questions regarding the financial decisions that got us here.”

Tim Chang

Tim Chang works for a global hedge fund, identifying investment opportunities for hedge fund and private capital investors. His work and his travels to Asia alerted him to “how global our economy has become,” spurring him to further his education. Determining that a full-time MBA entailed too high an opportunity cost, Chang opted for the GBA. It wasn’t a tough choice; having earned his bachelor’s degree at Tufts, Chang “knew of Fletcher’s reputation and the respect it garnered in the professional world.”

After nearly two years into the program, Chang “has had so many great classes and professors.” Standouts include Corporate Finance in Global Capital Markets, “a rigorous course… that reinforced concepts to help me evaluate the financial health of a company,” and Global Marketing Management, in which he learned that “marketing is everywhere, and everyone is marketing… We are not only consciously and subconsciously targets of marketing, but we are also everyday marketers of our own personal brand.” He encourages future GBA students to “reach out and engage with fellow classmates… Weekly Zoom study groups are the best way to stay engaged,” an opportunity to “get to know the amazingly smart and talented people in the program…  The stories shared and friendships created solidify the realization that we are indeed a global community.”

JD Kristenson

JD Kristenson‘s career in the U.S. Navy has taken him around the world. He commanded a coastal minesweeping vessel, USS Champion, the most-awarded ship of any class in the Navy during JD’s command. He currently serves as a surface warfare officer and special assistant for the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Belgium. Before beginning the Online GBA program at Tufts, he earned a master’s degree in international development at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Tufts offers a rare opportunity: a globally mediated program with a “tremendous academic reputation,” JD says. He hopes the program will help bring a more analytical approach to his decision-making.

One of the most important lessons JD has learned in the Online GBA program involves persistent inequality. “It is not crucial that people’s starting points are different, nor that the outcome of any game results in ‘winners’ and ‘losers,'” he says. “Such is life. It is when the winner of each round gets to rewrite the rules for the next round that inequality shifts from relatively benign variance to a truly pernicious malignancy. This really opened my eyes to what it means when an unfair playing field develops over generations.”

Maria Cardona González 

Maria Cardona González earned a medical degree in her native Mexico before coming to the United States, where she passed the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination and has conducted research on women’s health issues, dermatology, gastroenterology, and liver diseases. She now lives in Seattle, where she works as a clinical research coordinator for a startup biomedical device company.

In the course of her research, Maria saw that patients repeatedly came back with the same problems: “I realized that single efforts to help patients were not going to solve the causes of their problems, so I decided to embark on another challenge.” She earned a Master of Public Health (MPH), gaining perspective on the disparities in healthcare.

Maria realized that economics plays a crucial role in medicine and public health: “Being aware of systemic healthcare problems from the economic perspective, and seeing how research and hospitals operate as businesses, I knew that I needed to pursue an international business program.” Next stop, Tufts’ Online GBA program.

The diversity of her classmates has broadened her outlook: “We come from so many different backgrounds, and it is refreshing to hear others’ perspectives and points of view in the classroom.” 

Why Choose the Online GBA From Tufts University?

The Online GBA program at Tufts University’s Fletcher School offers critical training for ambitious professionals looking to gain leadership skills that translate across international borders. The Online GBA program starts with core business competencies: finance, strategy, and leadership. From there, it extends into geopolitics, global security, supply chains, economic policy, emerging market dynamics, and law and regulations.

Where a traditional MBA focuses on understanding how businesses operate successfully, the Online GBA program broadens the focus to include global economics, law, security, and politics. The GBA differs from a global MBA by adding contextual elements (economics, legal, social, and others) that impact international business. 

Online study adds convenience and flexibility; students learn from anywhere in the world via recorded and live online sessions. They also participate in two in-person immersion experiences (one on Tufts’ Boston campus, the other on an international site) to enhance learning and facilitate networking. Fletcher supports students and graduates through its proprietary career site, Fletcher CORE, and a powerful alumni network that spans more than 135 countries.

Ready to take the next step into a career with international reach? For more information, contact an enrollment advisor. If you’re ready, you can begin your application today.

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