Introduction: Medical schools increasingly offer curricula that specifically aim to prepare students for an international medical career. This is challenging as well as controversial: curriculum designers must balance specific local healthcare requirements with global health competencies doctors need in our globalised world. By investigating how international medical programme designers experience this balancing act, this study aims to contribute insights to the debate on local versus global medical education. Methods: We conducted a multi-centre instrumental case study across three universities with international medical programmes in three countries. The study involved 26 semi-structured interviews with key curriculum designers recruited through purposive sampling. Additionally, we performed a curriculum document analysis. Data were thematically analysed within a multidisciplinary team. Results: Participants described two profiles of international medical programme graduates: ?a global physician?, equipped with specific competencies for international practice, and ?a universal professional?, an overall high-level graduate fit for future practice anywhere. These perspectives presented different curriculum design challenges. Conclusions: International medical programmes teach us how we can rethink graduate profiles in a globalising world. Yet, educational standardisation poses risks and securing equity in global health education is challenging, as is preparing students to be adaptable to the requirements of a rapidly changing future local healthcare context.