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CET Academic Programs


CET Academic Programs is a study abroad organization that has been developing and delivering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. Originally “China Educational Tours,” CET began operations in Beijing, and today offers a varied portfolio of semester, summer, and short-term customized programs for college, high school, pre-college, and gap year students around the world. Known for strong academics, professional program management, and supportive student services, CET strives to integrate students into their host communities, adopt environmentally conscientious practices, and promote diversity and inclusion across all programs.


1155 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
United States


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Yes, I recommend this program
CET Japan

CET Summer Japan was an invaluable experience for me. I had always had in interest in Japanese language and culture, and so I thought that CET was the perfect program for me in order to increase my Japanese language proficiency. I was apprehensive at first and a little worried my preconceptions and exceptions about Japan, but CET's staff (on and off-site) were all really great and helpful! They were always available to help in any situation and I felt safe knowing they looked out so much for the students.

The academics were challenging, but definitely doable. Having class for 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week can be exhausting, but thanks to this, I learned so much. I'm glad that we were taught "survival Japanese" because we were able to use so much of the material we learned in class in real-life situations. People may be apprehensive of their language proficiency going up, but I think no matter what level of Japanese you're at, I think you'll gain something from participating in CET. I was able to enjoy my time outside of class and go explore the sights of Osaka, even on days I had class. If I could give one piece of advice to prospective students, I would say to plan out what you want from the program. How do you want to spend your time? 70% studying/30% playing? 60%/40? Having this in mind definitely helps to manage your time and ensure you get everything you can while on the program. Of course being in another country is exciting, but schoolwork is also important. It's up to you to decide how you want to spend your time there and I think finding a balance that's right for YOU will ensure the best possible experience for you. Looking back, I definitely would have liked to spend a little more time on homework, but I was also was able to meet some of the greatest people and become great friends with them from spending time with them.

My favorite thing about the program was the people I met and the friends I made. I never once felt scared of messing up in class or outside because I didn't know how to say something in Japanese because everyone was so kind, understanding, and willing to help! I would definitely participate again if I could and would recommend this program to anyone looking to meet new people, improve their Japanese language proficiency, and to anyone interested in Japanese culture.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I think the most nerve-wracking moment was walking out of the doors after signing the language pledge. Having to only speak Japanese all the time was stressful at first, especially when I felt the need to convey something important. Over time though, chatting with my roommates, in class, and with other students on the program eventually helped me to feel more comfortable speaking Japanese everyday and it felt a lot more natural after getting adjusted. By using Japanese so much in everyday life, I was able to make friends and connect with Japanese people on a level I didn't think was possible, and am glad to have participated in a program with a language pledge. It may be intimidating at first, but as long as you make an effort, you'll do great!
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Yes, I recommend this program
CET Taiwan

I had an amazing summer in Taiwan. I appreciate that the academics was challenging and I could definitely see improvement in my Chinese listening and speaking. I had the best resident directors and things all went smoothly. They provided us a trip to Hualien, which was one of the best experiences I had in Taiwan. In addition to housing, tuition, books, and transportation all calculated into one sum, I also had an internship at The China Post. The internship aspect challenged me in some ways, but also became a memorable part of the program. Taiwan is also a very safe country and transportation is very easy to navigate. Housing was super nice. My roommates and Taiwanese roommates were easy to get along with and like family. Food is good and cheap. Especially BOBA!

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Yes, I recommend this program
CET Florence

So a lot of people ask me why I chose to study abroad in Italy and honestly its a very boring answer... I just picked whatever program gave me what I needed in terms of credits. Which is super awesome that I can easily transfer my credits from CET to my current school but also I had no idea what to expect. I didn't speak a single word of Italian and knew absolutely nothing about the Italian culture. And now looking back, I feel so incredibly grateful to have been able to have this experience.

CET was the best choice for me because of my academic credits I was able to receive and also because of all the resources they provided for me. I took two classes there. One was an Italian Food and Culture class where we took field trips every week to a chocolate tasting, cooking class, wine tasting, olive oil vineyard, etc. It was just an amazing experience being able to do those things because it allowed me to further immerse myself in the Italian culture. And also, I probably would not have done those things on my own. I learned so much about the Italian culture and it was so great being able to live in their country and truly understand everything because of what I was learning in my class. The other class I took was a beginner Italian class and my teacher was one of the best people I met on my trip! She was like my second mom abroad.

The whole of CET staff while I was there was just so considerate and accommodating. They were there for you for anything! They truly understand the mindset of someone who is going abroad in a foreign country and won't hesitate to help you out with whatever you needed from restaurant recommendations, safety tips, and travel tips as well. They wanted me to make the most of everything there and I truly feel like I did because of their help.

The best part of my trip was the my apartment. It was so nice not having to deal with finding an apartment on my own. They worked out all those details and I also decided to go with random roommates within the program because I didn't know anyone else going abroad. The apartment was in a great location and very close to everything I needed. The best part about the apartment was how lucky I was to have met three other incredibly great friends! We travelled together every weekend, ate every meal together, and honestly just spent every second together.

I had no idea that when I went abroad I would get back such a rewarding experience. I honestly don't think it would have been the same if I had done a different program because they everyone at CET in Florence was so helpful and understanding. I think that's really important when you're deciding to do something you've never done before.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I could do it all over again, I would have chosen the spring semester instead of summer. It was too short!!!
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Li Li
Yes, I recommend this program
CET Harbin

When I first arrived, it was in early February. CET Harbin's campus was beautiful but the weather is known to be cold. It was a lot different than what I was expecting. I would say that this program definitely brought my Chinese to the next level. In my whole lifetime, I've only taken Econ 101 at school and this was my only "business" knowledge until CET Harbin, I registered for a business class and was placed in the highest language proficiency with no business background. I would say that this was one of the most challenging time of my life with school, but after 6 to 7 weeks, without realizing it, I have already been accustomed and was on a roll with classes. Other classes I took were Newspaper Reading, 一对二, and my 一对一class was on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I wanted to learn about TCM for the longest time of my life, and coming to this program really helped me accomplished my goal. All the 老师s were amazing at what they do and the activities that CET coordinated were really helpful in integrating students with the culture. I've made so many friends that I would definitely consider them my lifelong friends, and I've learned so so much through this language intensive program. If you are serious about improving your Chinese, CET Harbin is the way to go if you really followed the language pledge. It may be tiring speaking and thinking everything in Chinese, but at the end or before you know it, your Chinese is already on the next level. (I forgot but on the side note, breakfast foods are amazing, so were the caf's foods. There are 7 different cafeterias for you to choose from).

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Study, but also use your time to explore, ask your roommate and eat your heart out because there are so many places with good food in Harbin. It's unique and delicious! The perks of living in Dongbei is for you to explore/eat Dongbei's food! Last but not least, have fun!!!
Yes, I recommend this program
CET Shanghai

I always knew I wanted to study abroad in China. Being from a major city, Shanghai was the obvious choice. The city is famed for its modernity, architectural beauty, and international/metropolitan vibe.

I was immediately drawn to the CET Program. Most study abroad programs involve either coursework or an internship. The CET program combines both. Unlike most programs, CET specializes in finding an internship that is both educational and interesting. This summer I had the unique honor of interning at the Propaganda Poster Art Center, and if it were not for CET I would have not had the ability to intern at such an interesting location.

Classes at CET are difficult, but rewarding. The faculty are the best in their respective fields, and all are great professors. They are both intelligent and engaging. As far as learning Mandarin goes, every day is an adventure and the Chinese professors are all special and loving in their own way. Professor Rottman, the academic advisor is an incredible resource and mentor.

CET also has a unique reimbursement policy. They will reimburse up to 350 RMB a day (70 RMB per excursion) for cultural activities within Shanghai. This reimbursement policy encourages students to explore and engage with Shanghai.

Overall, what makes CET special is the people. The faculty, staff, and students are all excited about learning both in and out of the classroom. I highly recommend CET to any student looking for a holistic study abroad experience.

I myself will be applying for Summer 2020!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I had no idea that Shanghai had such a vibrant salsa scene!


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Donovan Orow


Senior at the University of Michigan, studying international and Asian studies.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I knew CET was an amazing organization after my experience in the summer of 2018 with another CET program that I also had a fantastic time participating in. In addition, I wanted to improve my Mandarin Chinese, especially my speaking skills, and I knew a language pledge would be an ideal method to do so.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

CET provided us with housing and had selected our roommates for us based on a questionnaire that we were required to fill out months ahead of arriving in Beijing. Furthermore, CET planned excursions for all students, including for the Chinese roommates; these excursions involved going to see historical attractions in Beijing and as well as taking a historical trip to a different city in China. Stuff that we had to take care of on our own was transportation costs if we wanted to do things on our own, food, and other personal needs.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Please, try to spend as little time with other foreigners as possible.

I understand, you are in a different country, and China is vastly different from any Western country, so you may choose to hang out with other foreigners to obtain a sense of belonging. However, if you do this, you are simply wasting your time abroad. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'm sure you will have time to talk to your friends you made abroad once you get back to your home country. While abroad, please do yourself a great favor and spend as much time as you can with your Chinese roommate and other locals instead of trying to evade the language pledge all the time by spending the majority of your free time with other foreigners.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

On weekdays, you will have class from 8 AM - 12 PM, followed by a one-on-one session in the afternoon. You get around an hour and a half for lunch, and after that, the one-on-one session lasts around 25 minutes.

Every day (minus Friday), there is a small quiz at the beginning of class that tests new vocabulary and grammar assigned from the reading; keep in mind that these, while assigned every day, they are actually a fairly small fraction of your overall grade. Every Friday is the weekly test, including of a written test (consisting of multiple-choice, true/false, constructing sentences, and short essays) and an oral test (topics usually assigned by the teacher and are relevant to textbook readings).

While four hours a day may seem tedious, there is a ten-minute break between every hour, so you can go out into the hall and stretch, use the bathroom, etc. So, in reality, it goes 50 minutes of class, ten minutes of break, and repeat until 11:50 PM.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I did not have any fears of participating in this program. I love traveling and am truly thankful for having the opportunity to participate in this program from CET. However, during the summer of 2018 (my first time in China with CET), I was a bit shy to haggle for souvenirs and other things I may have wanted to purchase. I told myself, if I don't haggle on my own, then I can't say I've utilized my time in China well. Don't be afraid to practice your Chinese by bartering with locals!

What's the weather like in China during the summer?

Very, and I do mean very, hot. Be prepared to wear sunscreen if you plan to do lots of sightseeing. While walking around in China, you will notice hundreds upon hundreds of people, especially women, walking around with umbrellas out to protect them from the sun's ultraviolet rays. While this may be unusual for Westerners, Chinese people try to avoid getting tan or sunburned as much as possible.

After walking around with an umbrella out myself during a hot and humid day (pretty much every day), I will say that it felt significantly cooler and I did not have to worry much about getting sunburned!

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Nova Shao

Job Title
Resident Director, CET Shanghai
Nova started to work for US-based study abroad programs in Shanghai in 2007 and joined CET Shanghai in 2013. Nova holds a BA in Sociology from East China Normal University and a MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Bergen in Norway. As a native Shanghainese, Nova leads walking tours in Shanghai herself. She loves introducing her native city of many faces to students, and enjoys helping students get most out of their Shanghai experience and proudly being a responsible global citizen.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Nova from CET Academic Programs in China

I am most interested in experiencing and exploring a culture that is very different from mine. I have traveled to many places in Europe and also within China, but my favorite travel memory goes back to the first year of my college life.

I traveled to Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang Province in North China, with a few friends. It was right before the Chinese New year when almost all the Chinese people working outside were heading back to their hometown to celebrate the New Year with families, and we could only get a ticket for a hard seat on the train.

The painful 23-hour ride on the train was paid off by extraordinary experience in Harbin. The nature shaped by the freezing weather, the way the local people prepared and sold food, the fun of playing in thick snow and ice, and the interaction between north China and Russia are all deeply rooted in my memory.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I had been working for other study abroad programs in Shanghai before I joined CET Shanghai in early 2013. The biggest change for me is to grow from a “baby-sitter” to an educator.

An educator’s responsibility is to guide and train students to get the most out of the study abroad experience instead of taking away the challenges (especially the cultural aspect) from students.

It is certainly harder but much more meaningful than being a “baby-sitter”. Effective communication skills, good judgment, from experience, understanding of student’s background and patience are all needed to make it happen.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Students often say that the Shanghai experience has been a life-changing experience for them. It has an impact on student’s life choices in different ways.

I know a student who planned to establish a student club to promote Chinese language and culture creatively after she returned; a student who changed her mind to study public health instead of molecular biology after she was inspired by the person she met in China; a student who got his dream internship in New York City which owes a lot to the internship experience he had in Shanghai; and more and more students who fell in love with Shanghai and China and couldn’t wait to come back to start a career.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

As a Shanghai local employee, I am proud of my company and my supervisor who trusts local employees and offers many opportunities for local employees to grow.

CET is an organization which actively supports academically qualified students of all races, religions, origins, abilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. I proudly found such diversity and inclusiveness in our office in Shanghai too.

It is just amazing that every staff member in our office is trusted to be a “manager” of certain job divisions and we are all indeed committed to CET’s mission of equipping students with new skills, broader perspectives, and an appreciation of difference.

More Interviews

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