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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 Prague

If you're reading this review, you're just like me when I was trying to decide between a few study abroad programs. First and foremost, I can 100% assure you that CET Prague is an amazing program.

Prague is by far the most beautiful city in Europe in terms of architecture (for nature I would recommend Croatia). There are so many things to do in Prague from museums and historical sites to an array of restaurants, pubs, and clubs. There are farmers markets, food / wine festivals and so many unique social gatherings throughout the city that I found fascinating.

The CET staff is arguably the best part of the program. I can personally speak for Petra, Martina, and Maggie, which are three people you'll be in contact with the most. They truly cared about my concerns and helped me throughout the semester. Additionally, the housing offered by CET is superb. The apartments are spacious with high ceilings. Some units are nicer than others, but overall I thought all of the apartments were all nice. And I should mention that a housekeeper comes to clean weekly. My roommate and I were also lucky, we shared our apartment with an awesome Czech student.

The professors were generally very nice. I didn't find any of the classes challenging, but that's not to say they weren't interesting. I didn't have to put in a lot of study time, which was nice because that made it possible to travel more. If it's offered, I highly recommend taking Resistance and Dissent taught by Pavla. She one of the most eccentric and interesting professors I've ever taken and her course is really fun. I should note that all of the courses are taught at the CET center, not at a Charles University building. You won't be taking courses with other Czech students, all of your courses will be with other students from the United States. This is purely because all of the classes are offered in English, with the exception of the Czech course. I thought I would prefer to be in a foreign university setting, but I really liked the CET center. I think this might matter to some people, so this might be something to consider.

The travelling opportunities provide by CET are great. I believe there were two traveling seminars. The first travelling seminar you'll visit Krakow, Auschwitz, Brno, and Vienna. The second travelling seminar is in Budapest. In addition to these, CET staff will take you to several cities and towns throughout the Czech Republic. These travelling opportunities, which are provided by CET are unique. Most study abroad programs do not offer travel opportunities like this. I definitely think this is something to consider.

I wanted to write briefly about my experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The aforementioned staff members were extremely open-minded and eager to help each student regardless of one's unique identity. At one point in the semester there was a sponsored meetup for LGBTQ+ students studying at Charles University, which was fun. Prague as a city is quite progressive for LGBTQ+ issues, there is an annual pride parade and there are several gay clubs, which are fun for everyone! The only problem I had was with my Czech teacher at CET. She was obviously ignorant about the LGBTQ+ community as per her comments throughout the semester. I notified staff about her comments and spoke to the teacher directly about attending diversity and inclusion workshops in the future. Although this teacher was not appreciated, she was a small negative in my overall very positive experience. I felt quite comfortable within the CET program and Prague.

After talking with friends about their study abroad experiences, I came to the conclusion that CET Prague is one of the best study abroad programs. The beauty coupled with an abundance of activities for students arguably makes Prague one of the best cities for study abroad. And I cannot say enough positive things about the CET staff. If you're on the fence between CET Prague and another program, I think CET Prague is a place for everyone.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
There were several weekends where students would take weekend trips to other countries. I really enjoyed visiting other countries, but I wish I had spent more time exploring Prague. If I could do it over again, I would make a list of things I wanted to do in Prague. But no regrets overall :)
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Yes, I recommend this program
CET Florence

As a midyear student, I participated in the CET Florence Program during my very first semester of college. Everything about the experience of being abroad was brand new to me, but I was so ready to get going! I spent my semester studying in bars (the Italian word for a caffe), walking the city, attending classes at CET and traveling around Italy and Europe. There were a few parts of the program I found particularly challenging: first of all, the program is very small. If a cohort just doesn't click, it can be difficult to find close friends. That was my experience, and it pushed me to truly learn how to travel on my own and how to be productive and happy in my own routines. Second, the program is organized so that there is a 10 day fall break during which students are entirely responsible for figuring out travel plans. This was especially difficult for me because I did not find a group of friends I wanted to travel with, and my family did not come and visit. I also have never had experience planning my own trips before as a freshman in college. The CET staff are absolutely incredible whenever you need help academically or in terms of travel ideas and tips, so they were my primary resource for places to go and things to see! Some of my favorite parts of the CET experience included connecting with Florence through my Renaissance art history course, meeting Italian high school and university students, and enjoying some of the best food I have ever eaten during the Italian Food and Culture course. All in all, I came back to the states with more confidence and a stronger sense of independence than I knew I could have, some of the best travel stories and experiences ever, and I had fallen deeply in love with Florence.

What would you improve about this program?
I think that one way to improve CET Florence would be to, as part of the package, offer different travel options or suggestions to its students so that when the time comes to travel around Italy or Europe, students have a base of resources to refer to. There should be a list of sources given, long before students arrive in Florence, so that they can see what kinds of trips will be available for them to take (or not take!). For example, providing links to the websites for student study abroad tours (Smart Trip, Bus2Alps, etc.). This way, students can plan out their trips in advance, if they decide to, and can still have an easily accessible list of places to go and things to do if they find themselves stuck while abroad.
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Yes, I recommend this program
CET Beijing

I started studying Chinese when I was 13 years old. Almost 8 years later you’d think I would be fluent by now, but alas, that is not my reality. However, within these 8 years I have developed a deep appreciation for Chinese language and culture, so much so that I made it a personal goal of mine to spend a semester abroad in China. Congratulations, 13 year old Abigail, you did it!
As you may have guessed, life in Beijing was not what I had expected. In fact, it was the opposite. The bikes, the traffic, the pollution, the population density; it is, in every way possible, the opposite of my hometown. I thought I would find pockets of similarity, and for the first two weeks, that was all I was looking for, or so I thought. Looking back, it was not similarity that I was searching for at all, it was a sense of home. Those first two weeks were by far the most difficult. Not only was I adjusting to the academic rigor of the program itself, I was also trying to make a home within Capital Normal University and trying to create a support system within my fellow participants and CET faculty. Everything was hard, everything was unfamiliar. However, that feeling of home I was so desperately searching for, along with the support system I was working tirelessly to create, came quicker than I had expected it to. There’s something about working through a mutual struggle that creates a bond between those experiencing it, and a deep one at that. I truly believe I made life-long friends while on that program, both from my college and others. I learned that I was not as independent as I once believed myself to be, and that’s okay. I learned that it’s okay to struggle, that it’s okay to lean on others when you need to and that it’s okay to ask for help. I had been so focused on becoming emotionally self-sufficient that I had forgotten what it was like to really need someone. This experience helped me navigate that dependency in a healthy way.
While the personal growth that comes from studying abroad is unbeatable, the academic growth I experienced cannot be ignored. Within my first few years of college, I had heard about study abroad experiences in Europe, ample freetime allowing students to travel from country to country on a whim. For most, academics were able to be put second. I ignorantly went into this abroad experience anticipating something similar, I was rudely mistaken. In order to stay afloat at CET Beijing, your studies must come first. This program is known for its complete language immersion with a 24/7 language pledge put into place for all participants regardless of one’s location. There are quizzes every day, tests every week, and essays every weekend, in addition to your daily homework and studying. There is a clear expectation of excellence. With these expectations and requirements, you may believe that the staff is unconcerned with students well-being, but that could not be farther from the truth. Within my academic career thus far, I have had my fair share of faculty that are uninterested in creating a relationship with me, and are unwavering in their course requirements regardless of student feedback. The teachers that I was so privileged to have at CET Beijing were excellent, in and out of the classroom. They were always willing to help, regardless of the subject matter. The office faculty made themselves available to you throughout the day leaving their door open and encouraging students to stop by, even if it was just to chat. The CET faculty had always said Beijing was our second home, and by the end of the program, I really believed them.
For students on the fence between choosing to participate in CET Beijing or choosing to stay at their home institution, my advice would be to take that chance and go abroad. It’s bound to teach you something, if not about yourself, indefinitely about the world around you. What do you have to lose?

What would you improve about this program?
Like every other program, CET Beijing has room for improvement. The main aspect being ways in which to support students as they struggle through the language pledge. Regardless of your language level, sticking to the language pledge is a challenge. I would have loved to have had scheduled meetings with faculty, once every few weeks, to be able to speak with them in English and express myself emotionally. In addition, I would have loved to meet my roommate earlier via Wechat. Being able to talk with her beforehand would have eliminated anxieties that had been built up surrounding the thought of living with a complete stranger for five months. In that way, you would be able to get a sense of compatibility as well. Not every roommate pairing is going to be perfect, but I believe that prior communication between roommates would allow for students and faculty to work together in creating a good match, hopefully eliminating some of those issues before they arise. Finally, restructuring the language practicum aspect of CET Beijing. Speaking with Chinese in public is a great way to improve your Chinese, there is no debate there. However, being tasked with interviewing people within a park, a museum, etc. always seemed to create a sense of anxiety, either within students or those being interviewed. Not to mention with China’s extensive amount of dialects, it was fairly common to not understand the interviewee’s response. Therefore, this aspect of the program, at times, felt unproductive and not entirely useful.
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Yes, I recommend this program
CET Beijing

This program gives you many opportunities to learn Chinese which makes it a great Chinese program, you just have to take the leap. Nobody is going to force you. Each Semester at CET is different for example in the Fall semester the environment wasn’t as immersive as the Spring. There was too many students that quit the language pledge within the first weeks which made it hard for the students who wanted to make friends but couldn’t because the temptation to speak English was there all the time except for when class was in session. As I was at CET for spring 2019 and then Fall 2019 I had the opportunity to hear serval reasons why the Language Pledge was Impossible, but it's NOT impossible. In the past, I read reviews that said "stick to the language pledge" which I 100% agree with, but it sounds hard especially when you get into the 3rd weekend. Just Don't make an excuse for yourself as to why you can't do the Pledge. Don't tell yourself: I’ll start tomorrow, it's impossible, my Chinese level is too low, I’ll never make friends/connections, everyone else does it. Every day you will have challenges it's not easy but very possible to achieve with the help the all the CET staff and roommates. CET has a great structure, for example, Sunday to Thursday there are office hours, RD makes me feel secure, almost all teachers are friendly and ready to answer all the Chinese questions you have. The only things CET lacks is more training with the Chinese roommates help the CET Students with the culture shock. I feel like there needs to be not just a separate meeting about diversity/culture shock but also a joint meeting. I had been to China before my first semester at CET so the culture shock wasn’t a huge deal. But it is for most students. For example, I heard students say my roommate: leaves water on the floor, wash all her clothes in the sink, chews with her mouth open. Which are all normal parts of lifestyle in China. The 2nd problem is not really pushing the language pledge. Too many students start to get tricky if they notice that staff members are being too nice and not catching them when they speak English, which can ruin the experience. This program was challenging but rewarding. Starting at the beginner class was challenging. I wasn’t able to say anything except “I like …, I think…” for a while. I lost my personality at the beginning but gained much more than my personality at the end. I learn about north versus southern Chinese culture and language, where the locals eat, how to make jokes, have the confidence to ask questions/join clubs, meet new friends outside of CET, dream in Chinese, to be able to travel using Chinese, this list could go on forever. If I had the chance after graduating from University I would pick CET to study Chinese again.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice is next time you start to doubt your Chinese Language Pledge ask yourself these 3 questions:  Why did I pick CET Intensive Language Program in Beijing? Have I talked to the RD/teachers about my difficulties?  How does my Chinese compare to the 1st day?
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

During my time in Varanasi, I became fully engaged in the culture of Varanasi. I lived with a local roommate in a flat and was able to explore the city with him. I learned how to bargain for fruits and vegetables from local sellers and how to then prepare and cook them into a meal. We also made many trips to the Ganga where we saw and took part in many of the traditions that the locals practiced. The program itself was quite engaging and encouraged involvement and exploring in the community. As a group, we visited many temples and met with local experts to learn more about the history of this important religious city. There was always something to learn and keep you busy!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Most of the temples were amazing and incredible to enter and visit.


Displaying 1 - 9 of 36
CET Academic Programs
CET Beijing
9.23 •56 reviews

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9.21 •29 reviews

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CET Jordan: Intensive Language
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CET Prague
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CET Prague at FAMU
Czech Republic
7.82 •17 reviews

CET Prague students are looking for a meaningful study abroad...

Alumni Interviews

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

Isabel McLaughlin


Isabel is an artist and student at Kalamazoo College who loves to research and create politically active art, grow and eat food, and walk in big cities at night.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose the CET Brazil study abroad program because I was intrigued by the radical art movements and street art in São Paulo.

I am drawn to big cities, and São Paulo seemed to offer a wide variety of opportunities and activities. Additionally, every aspect of the program supported an immersive and authentic experience. The most important for me was living in an apartment with other Brazilian students my age. I was extremely excited about meeting new people and building lasting relationships.

I was also intrigued by the Volunteering and Social Justice opportunities that were advertised in this program.

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

Kalamazoo College assisted me throughout the application process, both inside the University and the process with CET. Obtaining the Student Visa was long and complicated, but all of my questions were answered by CET.

I was in the first group of students to participate in the program. This meant I did not receive information from past participants.

When arriving in São Paulo, the CET team was amazing at assisting students. However, we also had the freedom to make our own decisions and find new opportunities.

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

I believe that everybody needs to shape and accept their own study abroad experience. Although we all have expectations about future travels, I think it is important to acknowledge these expectations before, during, and after your trip.

Don't compare your travels to others! Social media and stories don't fully communicate the everyday reality of studying abroad, so don't use social media to compare and criticize.

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

I participated in 5 classes during my semester in São Paulo. My Portuguese class met 3 times a week in the morning and the other classes occurred once a week in the afternoons.

Half of my classes were located at the CET office (2 blocks from my apartment) and the others were at Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (6 blocks from my apartment).

Reading assignments were common, but homework and projects were not overwhelming. This allowed me to use my nights and 3 day weekends to go to museums, adventure to new neighborhoods, experience night-life, and explore parks.

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 was incredibly afraid that I would not feel welcomed and accepted by friends, colleagues, and professors in São Paulo. I did not speak Portuguese before arriving in Brazil, and I was afraid this language barrier would inhibit others from understanding my intentions and actions.

Overcoming this barrier was a long process.

My friends and professors always encouraged me to speak confidently. Their support helped significantly; however, it wasn't until I accepted my abilities and took pride in my growth that I lost my fear.

What did you learn on your program that will stay with you?

I learned how to incorporate attitudes of community and sharing into all aspects of my life. Most of my experiences in Brazil showed how eating, cleaning, talking, studying, exploring, drinking, and dancing are meant to be enjoyed with others.

Before studying abroad, I had a mindset of independent strength and productivity. This mindset changed dramatically and I now find more joy in relaxation, conversation, and collaborative work.

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.

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