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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


Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program
CET Beijing

CET Beijing and CET Beijing Janterm were experiences I did not know I needed until after I experienced them. CET Beijing Intensive Language Program could not be a more appropriate name for this program. From 8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m. I was challenged in the classroom, and the challenges continued beyond class hours as the language pledge really pushed me out of my comfort zone.

As I mention above, CET Beijing has a language pledge which made the first few weeks extremely challenging as we pledged to speak no language other than Chinese throughout our time in Beijing. It was challenging at first, because it was hard to communicate with each other as a lot of us did not have the Chinese speaking skills to have a full conversation. As time went by, it became easier to communicate with teachers, classmates, and even local people as our Chinese improved every single day (I am not being sarcastic here). At first, I thought the language pledge would prohibit me from making new friends, but in reality it brought us all closer together. The struggle that we were all going through, regardless of Chinese speaking level, made the bond even stronger.

I participated in both the semester long program in the Fall and the Janterm program (1 month). In terms of academics, they focused on different things. The Fall semester focused more on improving your reading and writing skills, while the Janterm focused more on your speaking skills. I recommend students interested in studying abroad in Beijing to participate in both the semester program and Janterm.

Overall, CET pushed me to become more independent. It helped me reach a lot of my goals, and I hope in can do the same or even more for others in the future.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the thing that this program can improve on is updating students throughout the summer about the upcoming program. For example, I was not able to reach out to my roommate before the program start date. It would have been nice to text a week or so prior to meeting so that we can have a clue of what the other likes, set room rules, etc.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

I have been to several pre-college academic college programs in the US and this study abroad program blew them all away. The dorms were great and the dorm food was incredible. There was a full four story cafeteria that served fresh made Chinese food everyday. I had a steaming bowl of fresh wonton soup almost every morning for breakfast, along with a steamed soy milk drink (which is better than it sounds!). There was a grocery store around the corner that had all the necessities and some great Chinese snacks like pineapple cakes. There were many restaurants right in the few blocks around us. My favorite was a fresh bao shop just across the street with meat and red bean buns, perfect for a quick breakfast or snack. My class had only three people and was personalized so I could focus on my own career aspirations. We practiced interviews, made resumes and cover letters, and met professionals who had made their careers in China. There were excursions to great sites almost everyday and the destination trip to Xi’an was definitely a highlight.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The food is incredible, and cheap! There was so much variety, not at all like the usual take out Chinese food you get in the US!
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program
CET Japan

I'm going to leave a review because reviews for this program were hard to find before I went abroad, and the ones I found were all positive. I went in summer 2018 and while I overall enjoyed it and had a good time, some very concerning things happened while I was abroad and I want everyone to have a realistic review before they commit to this program. This review is for the short term Summer Program, I can't speak for the semester long program as it has a different structure.

It's going by a different name following a rebranding this year, but I attended the Summer Intensive Japanese Study abroad in Osaka in 2018. I'll start this in depth review by saying this program really has the potential to be an amazing, life changing program, but as it is now I cannot in good faith recommend it unless you are already at an extremely high level of Japanese proficiency. The issues I bring up in this review has been brought up in past years, but still have not been addressed. Basically, staff and administration were so focused on only the academic rigor of the program that student concerns and mental health were ignored. The language pledge was focused on to the extent that student well being and communication between student and staff was ignored, and students were left without a good support network in a foreign country. Overall I had an excellent time outside of the classes, but my experience was the exception rather than the norm. For housing, there were issues with the roommates, especially the Japanese male roommates. The Japanese roommates seem to receive little vetting for joining the program.

During my time at the program I recorded any issues the study abroad participants had, and I've summarized them below.
A summary of some of the issues students have encountered during the program:

Sexual harassment. -A student was harassed outside of her dorm in Osaka, and when she called to report it in staff criticized her actions after the event occurred, seemed bothered they'd have to file paperwork over the incident, and never informed other students about the event or to be safe.

When one student was in the hospital over a severe allergic reaction he was encouraged to take the next day off for his health, but informed the missed time wouldn't be excused, despite being in the hospital for three hours

When students tried to explain serious roommate and housing issues staff members informed students they would be reported for breaking the language pledge when they explained their issues in English, despite students being unable to describe their problems in Japanese. Nothing was done about reported issues. Further, many Japanese roommates chosen for the program behaved in an inappropriate way including smoking and sleeping with other people while roommates were around, but staff had little power to address this issue and always sided with Japanese roommates when issues were reported.

A student was not given time off to help with an emergency medical situation at home despite the possibility a family member might be seriously ill. Individual teachers have no power to excuse coursework, senior staff has all the decision power and rarely sides with students. A student's medical information was also discussed by a teacher in front of the rest of the class in a direct violation of her privacy.

Students experiencing mental health issues received little support, and in order for any class time to be excused had to have a note from a professional, none of whom live nearby making students travel to other locations to receive help. Students with issues only have one English speaking staff they can speak to at length, and that person is not certified as a counselor. Further, staff often speaks down to students as if they are children, but then expects them to navigate Japan that first week independently. Reassuring words were often said to students but then nothing was ever done to address issues. There was little support during our arrival to Japan and the first week. When students expressed frustration over policies and events they were often told that was just the way it was, or were quoted policies that were not found in the handbook or on the CET website.

I went during the summer an earthquake occurred in Japan. During the earthquake one of the student housing's doors became jammed, trapping students inside during the time where aftershocks were a risk. As there was only one door and all the windows were covered students had to wait while other students from neighboring housing pried the window coverings off so they could escape. Afterwords when a trapped student talked with CET staff she received verbal confirmation that there is only one escape route for many houses, and in the case it is blocked housing becomes very dangerous. Nothing was ever done about this issue.

During the heavy rainfall and flooding that occurred that summer students were told to come to school for their project presentations despite the risk that trains might stop. We were told we would need to walk thirty minutes to school in flood rain if trains did stop. During the poster presentations an evacuation order for the area was issued which staffed ignored so students could complete their presentations.

A hazing event between Japanese roommates occurred and CET staff dismissed the event after speaking with students involved, since students assured them it was not hazing. After seeing the videos and listening to CET students that lived there it definitely appears to be hazing, and that CET simply doesn't want to have to report and do paperwork on the occurrence. I understand that power dynamics and social stigmas are different between America and Japan, but this program is in partnership with many American Universities and these issues need to be treated seriously and not dismissed as just an aspect of Japanese culture.

On the subject of policies some information was not released to students until the week before the program began, much too late a time to change plans and receive a refund, with little time to plan and prepare. This included the need for $200 in a housing deposit, and the knowledge that we would have four hours of hw a day. ALL information about the program needs to be available up front when students are considering applying.

CET is unsympathetic towards medical issues despite claiming they are there in support. Students that are experiencing a medical issue often have to go through many steps to get any missed time excused (which affects their grade otherwise) and no special concessions are given to students with medical issues that might struggle with extreme temperatures for example.

A student was hospitalized for a week due to a life threatening allergy and had to attend class because he was told it wouldn't be excused otherwise. Staff did not provide ways to relieve students allergy or make accommodations.
CET was aware of the severity of the allergy before the student came to Japan and student was reassured CET was prepared to handle the situation, but staff clearly was not prepared or ready to accommodate the student.
In addition, the student was told to come to class after telling staff he felt was going to suffer an allergy attack because missed class time can't be excused.

Whether students had a good experience during this program seemed to be luck of the draw, as the teachers and roommates often determined whether the experience was good, as well as not experiencing any health issues during the two months. Some teachers were verbally abusive towards students, repeatably, and nothing was done about this. Some Japanese roommates regularly violated CET policies and nothing was done.

There were a lot of negatives during this program, but there were a lot of good experiences and times as well. But ultimately I'll end this review by saying the final night after the exams were over and we were celebrating at the end of the year party many Japanese students came up to me crying because they would miss us so much. They had grown so close to us in the summer, but I felt like I hardly had the chance to get to know them because of the extreme amount of homework and classwork expected of us. I still cherish these bonds, but imagine if we'd had more time to focus on the social and cultural aspects of the program. Instead, I sat in my room doing Japanese homework five days a week. There were days I was so frustrated and stressed I cried and regretted coming to Japan, something I've always wanted to do.

In summary, if you want to go to Japan and only do school work for eight hours a day, don't have any medical issues, and don't mind having no support in a foreign country, this might be the program for you. I do believe this program has excellent bones and can be amazing, but they need to actually stop and listen to students and adjust the program. These complaints I've learned are nothing new yet they are never addressed year to year.

What would you improve about this program?
Stop focusing on only completing major amounts of textbook work, and focus on the social and cultural aspects more. Let students spend more time with their Japanese housemates! They're going to remember the people and places they saw in Japan years from now, now the hours they spend doing homework in their room.
Response from CET Academic Programs


Please know that we read these evaluations very carefully, and we wanted to take the time to respond to your review of CET Japan.

We know that last summer presented a number of unique and difficult challenges in Osaka. In just 2 months, there were earthquakes, typhoons, dangerous heatwaves, and flooding. We realize this created a backdrop of stress for an already academically rigorous summer. This was unlike anything we’ve seen in Japan, and we regret that it was stressful for everyone involved.

We recognize that many students were overwhelmed by the pace of the courses and frustrated by academic policies on the ground. Know that this feedback was heard, and CET has made adjustments accordingly. Specifically, we have a new Academic Director in Osaka, a refreshed and transparent attendance policy, revamped homework assignments, re-imagined excursions, and more on-going teacher training.

We would like to respond to a few specific points in your review and will do so below. However, many of the issues you raise did not happen to you directly but rather to other students on the program. Out of respect for their privacy, we cannot respond to some of these issues directly. We do stand by the support offered to these students and hope you recognize that we are not able to share detailed information on each situation with all program attendees in an effort to protect student privacy.

Please know that CET takes issues of health and safety very seriously, so we wanted to directly address four of the issues mentioned in your review:

1. CET staff are carefully trained to respond to reports of sexual harassment, and they specifically know that best practice would never involve victim blaming or breaking confidentiality. We are required to maintain detailed records in an effort to support the students involved and their sending institutions, and onsite staff always remind students of our Title IX reporting obligations in these situations. We apologize if that was perceived as complaining about the paperwork involved. That is never our intention. Whenever a case of sexual harassment is reported, staff not only file internal reports, but other actions are taken to support students that not everyone on the program might see. For example, depending on the case, we might issue reports to local authorities, connect the student to counselors in Kansai and at home, and remind the larger student group about general safety concerns. Rest assured that we never ignore incidents of sexual harassment.

2. CET does not tolerate hazing or bullying in any form. We can assure you that onsite staff were deeply involved in the situation and with the students impacted, and in fact, a student was dismissed from the program as a result of these reports.

3. All housing in Japan was inspected after the earthquake. In fact, student housing was inspected by a certified architect following the earthquake and deemed safe. Minor damages were attended to, with some repairs taking longer than normal given the major damage that occurred throughout the region.

4. Finally, CET would, of course, evacuate students if recommended by local authorities. In summer 2018, the Japanese government issued a statement that the elderly or those under medical care be prepared to evacuate. This warning did not apply to students and was actually cancelled once the weather forecast was revised.

We are more than happy to talk with you directly about your experience if you would like to speak with us directly. Please feel free to contact me to set up a time to talk.

Sarah Dixon
CET Director of Institutional Relations
[email protected]

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program
CET Shanghai

My overall experience with CET Shanghai was extremely positive. The program provides a variety of opportunities to engage with Chinese language and culture and the staff is very supportive and helpful to student needs. Jeremy and Nova are always able and willing to lend their help and support. The program is academically rigorous compared to some other study abroad programs, so it's important to be prepared to put in the work. Daily Chinese classes are especially time consuming and require a good deal of preparation outside the classroom, but if you put in the effort you will be able to significantly improve your Chinese language skills. The professors are all extremely knowledgable and personable. Weekend trips and excursions provide ample opportunity for students to experience Chinese culture. There are also two breaks (one 5 days and another 10 days) where students can do independent travel.

What would you improve about this program?
1) More time travel
2) Chinese class is too early
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

It's tough to describe this experience on a 1-10 scale. While there were many aspects of this program that I really loved, there were many parts of the program that were very frustrating. Overall, I'm glad that I chose this program and I hope that one day I can return to Prague. I also think that the program has a lot of room for improvement, but compared to other study abroad programs I think that they are the best option for those interested in practical film production.

FAMU is a very unique film school and the professors are very talented filmmakers. I don't think the general core classes were the most productive way to learn with these professors, but I felt that they all made time to meet with us individually several times throughout the semester and those meetings were when I learned the most. I enjoyed my FAMU electives a lot and the general arts community in Prague. I also really enjoyed the optional Kutna Hora trip, and found some personal time to explore Cesky Raj (which I really recommend!).

I wouldn't recommend this program to everybody, but I am glad that I did it and I think that some people could really enjoy what this program has to offer. I also think it was a very valuable character-building experience that I don't think I would've gotten anywhere else. I personally chose to study abroad not just for the cultural experience but also because I wanted to learn film production. While there are many other programs that offer a much more consistent experience (particularly with academics and scheduling) this is the only program I know that provides an accurate experience of what film school and the filmmaking process can look like.

What would you improve about this program?
Abi's GoOverseas review of this program from 2016 really does a good job of summing up how I felt about this program's scheduling and communication. While we were warned by staff that FAMU scheduling can be difficult as it is run by filmmakers, not teachers, I felt that the program didn't do much to make it any easier. Beyond classes just being rescheduled or cancelled last minute, at no point did I feel that me or my peers had a good idea of what was going on in general with the program's schedule. This made it really difficult to experience Prague in my free time. Choosing electives was also a much too mysterious process, and several of my peers weren't able to take electives that they wanted due to miscommunication about the process. Hearing that these scheduling problems have consistently been an issue each semester is disappointing, and I hope that CET finds a way to deal with this as soon as possible.

Additionally, while I personally loved my assigned Czech buddy, many of them hadn't lived in Prague before and were just as new to the city as we were. I think that pairing up the CET FAMU students with Czech FAMU students would be a good idea to consider.


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Alumni Interviews

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

Ethan Hill


Ethan started studying Chinese in high school and has continued to take Chinese in college. Attending the CET Harbin Chinese program was Ethan’s first time in China.

Why did you choose this program?

I was introduced to the CET program though my college. Every year, we have a little Study Abroad fair where representatives from different Study Abroad programs come to our college to introduce and answer questions about their respective programs. This is how I first heard about CET.

Additionally, one of my Chinese teachers had worked for CET. When I visited CET’s website, what stood out to me about the CET Harbin program was that it was one of the few summer programs in which you could select elective courses in Chinese to focus on your specific interests within the Chinese language, as opposed to a general language course. For example, elective courses were offered in Literature, Classical Chinese, Composition, Business, Conversation, and Newspaper Reading. CET Harbin also offers a one-on-one course in which you can research a topic of your choice with a teacher.

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

My college’s Study-Away office helped me get more information on CET and explained to me how transferring credits from CET to my home institution would work. They also had suggestions for scholarships I could apply to to help fund my trip abroad.

The CET staff was extremely helpful. They were very patient and happy to answer my questions (and I asked a lot!) The CET staff served as my guide in preparing to go abroad. I was responsible for organizing my Visa application documents (passport, JW202 form, photo, etc.) and sending them into the Chinese consulate to get a student visa (X2 visa). I am not near any consulates, so I mailed my Visa application materials to a third-party company called CIBT which submitted the documents for me to the consulate, and effectively got me my Visa. (I would highly recommend using CIBT. They make sure you have all the required documents and can help with your Visa photo.) In addition to collecting my Visa materials, I was also responsible for buying plane tickets.

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

I would advise anyone who is planning to attend this program to not overlook the importance of sleep. Sometimes, it feels like you just have too much homework to get a good night's sleep. In this case, I would strongly urge you to not finish all of your homework and go to sleep at a reasonable time instead. Think of sleep as a part of your homework every night. Sleeping well each night is one of the best ways to prepare for class the next day.

Additionally, find time to relax, exercise, and enjoy yourself. I personally find that when I am in a good mood, I am much more efficient in my homework and do a better job in general.

Another piece of advice is that if you have a question, do not hesitate to ask a teacher or staff member. Sometimes it seems like the question you have is obvious or silly. However, as is usually the case, some of your classmates have the same questions too but are just too afraid to ask. Do yourself and classmates a favor, and ask questions!

Also, regarding Visa application materials: start thinking about and gather them as soon as possible. A Visa can take a while to process.

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

The earliest classes begin at 8 AM, so if you have a class at this time and want to eat beforehand, waking up at 6:30 or 7 AM is probably a good idea.

The number of classes you have each day varies. Typically, the most classes you’ll have in one day will be three. Aside from the one-on-two class, each class is two hours (it is split into 50-minute segments with a 10-minute break in between).

After the morning class, you can eat lunch at one of the dining halls. Then, at 1 PM, you will have a 50-minute one-on-two class. This is, in essence, a conversation class, where you work on tones and speaking fluency. Before each class, you and your classmate will need to memorize a short dialogue. During this class, you will go over the dialogue, and the teacher will correct your tones and grammar. I feel that this is an extremely important class. Tones are integral to speaking fluent Chinese but all too often seem to be overlooked. It is easy to forget about them when you are talking to someone in Chinese.

After the one-on-two class, you might or might not have another two-hour class. After this class is over, the day is yours. You can exercise, play, eat, or of course, study. This is a basic outline of a typical weekday.

During the weekends, there are no classes (but you will still have homework to do). You can do what you want. A few of my classmates even organized trips to Inner Mongolia and Dalian during this time. Additionally, every weekend, there is some sort of excursion. These excursions are optional, and you have to sign up to participate which I would highly recommend you do.

For example, we went to a few museums including the Heilongjiang Museum and Jewish History Museum. We also visited a temple. Normally, the excursions take up the better part of the day. The exception is the trip to Fenghuang Mountain. This mountain climbing trip took up two days, and in my opinion, was the most fun excursion.

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 most worried about traveling to China on my own, the reason being this was my first time flying by myself. I was mainly worried about missing flights and getting stuck in the airport. I overcame this fear by asking the airport staff questions and constantly calling my parents to ask for help. In the end, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

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Staff Interviews

Staff interviews 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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