The first graduate school of business in the United States was the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Founded in 1900, it conferred the first advanced degree in business, specifically, a Master of Science in Commerce, the predecessor to the MBA.
The Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration established the first MBA program in 1908, with 15 faculty members, 33 regular students, and 47 special students. Its first-year curriculum was based on Frederick Winslow Taylor's scientific management. The number of MBA students at Harvard increased quickly, from 80 in 1908, over 300 in 1920, and 1070 in 1930. At this time, only American universities offered MBAs. Other countries preferred that people learned business on the job.
Other milestones include:
- 1930: First management and leadership education program for executives and mid-career experienced managers (the Sloan Fellows Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
- 1943: First Executive MBA (EMBA) program for working professionals at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Chicago was also the first business school to establish permanent campuses on three continents in Chicago (USA), Barcelona (Europe) and Singapore (Asia). Most business schools today offer a global component to their executive MBA. Since the program was established, the school has moved its campuses and is now based in Chicago, London and Hong Kong.
- 1946: First MBA focused on global management at Thunderbird School of Global Management.
- 1950: First MBA outside of the United States, in Canada (Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario), followed by the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1951.
- 1955: First MBA offered at an Asian school at the Institute of Business Administration Karachi at the University of Karachi in Pakistan, in collaboration with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
- 1957: First MBA offered at a European school (INSEAD).
- 1986: First MBA program requiring every student to have a laptop computer in the classroom at the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College (Florida). Beginning with the 1992–1993 academic year, Columbia Business Schoolrequired all incoming students to purchase a laptop computer with standard software, becoming the first business school to do so.
- 1994: First online executive MBA program at Athabasca University (Canada).
The MBA degree has been adopted by universities worldwide in both developed and developing countries.