World Class Programs


World Class Programs offers high school students the opportunity to study abroad and experience cultures from around the world. We hope to prepare students for an ever more globalized world while allowing them independence and exciting experiences abroad. Through our Experiential Learning Method students use hands on learning and immerse themselves in different cultures for the summer of a lifetime.



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Yes, I recommend this program

Senior Week Abroad

Last winter my child came to me proposing that instead of a traditional post graduation senior week at the beach she would like do do an educational tour abroad. She and a friend did their own research and felt that World Class Programs offered an option that seemed to be the perfect balance of education and tourism, free time and structure. We read reviews online like this one and since the organization is relatively new, we called and spoke with the director as well before applying. From the beginning of our interactions with the staff of the program we got the sense that their passion is planning the perfect travel experiences for students (rather than making a profit), and they have been top notch in terms of responsiveness and communication. As a parent I especially liked that we had a parent/child Zoom planning meeting before the trip, and during the trip the Director sent us detailed updates as to what the group was up to. My daughter checked in frequently and was just loving everything about the trip every time she called or texted. I wanted to take the time to write a review so that future parents researching programs can hear about our experience and have confidence in this newer organization.

  • Combination of learning and touring
  • Good communication with parents
  • A little touch and go with Covid and not knowing if the program would run
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Yes, I recommend this program


I had only a few things on my bucket list for this trip (watch the 1am sparkle of the Eiffel tower, have crepes from a crepe stand, see the works in the Louvre, do some shopping, and walk along the seine like mamma mia) and as I look back on it I can say that I truly accomplished everything on it and much more. I came into this program thinking it would be like other programs, overly chaperoned, too structured, and little to no free time. I was very pleasantly surprised when I arrived and I got much more free time than anticipated and when I was in class or with the group I was always learning something while also very much enjoying my time here. The trip was well timed and I never felt like we were too busy or had to little to do. The classes that we took were relaxed while also helping us learn about culture in paris. The program staff were flexible when we wanted free time or if we wanted to learn something different in our classes! I would definitely recommend this program to someone who is looking to get into studying abroad before college and it would be good for anyone no matter how comfortable they are with traveling. I came with a friend which helped me get to know people but there were others who came not knowing anyone and we all became friends quickly and will remain friends even after the trip!

  • flexible
  • safe
  • shopping
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Yes, I recommend this program

An Excellent Experience

World Class Program’s Paris trip was wonderful. There is ample opportunity to explore as much of Paris as you wish, while still learning a lot. They supply ample support to make sure you don’t experience any issues. Emersion and language education takes a hit due to the tourist nature of Paris, however there are excursions that allow you to find yourself in more rural areas.However if you wish, the staff is open to suggestions of locations to go. As an example, they were very happy to bring the group to the house of my favorite author (Alexandre Dumas) just outside of Paris due to my request. The program covers nearly everything you could want during life abroad including hotel rooms, train and attraction tickets, and food. Additionally, the staff was very kind and helpful. Easily one of the best times of my life.

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Yes, I recommend this program

What an amazing program!

My daughter was part of the Florence 2021 crew and what an experience it was! I was elated to find World Class Programs online and learn about their real world learning process. My daughter "majored" in Italian and met with her teacher each morning at a local café. They spent their time conversing, shopping, and experiencing Italian culture all while growing and broadening her Italian language skills. She loved her teacher and the time they spent together. She minored in philosophy (which she also greatly enjoyed) and the entire group also had the opportunity to explore Tuscan cuisine cooking several times a week (I'm still jealous).
In their down time (and there's a great balance of "class"/free time) the group was able to explore Florence and experience the beautiful city as a local. They also spent their weekends traveling as a group - and I know that the trips were a highlight for my daughter (I mean who wouldn't love Cinque Terre?).
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Derek and his team. Derek walked the perfect line of being fun/entertaining while also instilling appropriate guardrails and rules for the group. I felt completely confident in his judgment and was thrilled with his communication before and during the trip.
Overall, it was an amazing experience and I can't thank World Class Programs enough for the amazing summer!

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Yes, I recommend this program

World Class Programs gets an A+!

My daughter went on this trip in 2021 to Italy and I could not possibly feel better about recommending this program! There was an excellent combination of education and leisure, and I felt extremely comfortable about her health and safety with the staff members who were with her. They were able to see so many amazing things and the value for what we paid was unparalleled. Could not be more thrilled with this program and will be sending two kids with them next summer! Thank you to Derek and the staff for an amazing experience.


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Staff Interviews

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

Steven Gottsacker

Job Title
Osaka Program Director

Steven graduated from Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota with two Bachelor's Degrees in Spanish and Global Studies (Asian Studies Option), and a minor in Japanese. He is currently working on his Master's Degree in International Development through Saint Mary's University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has toured Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Akita, and Sapporo in Japan.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is visiting Osaka, Japan. The culture there is so unique compared to Tokyo, where everything is busy. Osaka has a very rich history which includes castles, gardens, and native food. It also hosts citizens who are very affable and willing to converse with you. There was so much to see!

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

Since joining this company, I have learned more about how countries like Japan have developed economically, socially, and politically, putting them at the center of the world's stage. Using it as a model, I have a far better understanding of where other countries fit in the development process. With that, I can inform others of cultural differences and progress.

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

Some of the students who traveled to Japan loved the culture so much that they wanted to be integrated as much as possible. Even though they were Western and found it hard to assimilate, they did not let that stop them from speaking the language or practicing the lifestyle. I love the enthusiasm! It is very infectious and admirable.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would have to say travelling to Spain. Although I have practiced Spanish for over ten years, I still have not visited a country that speaks Spanish. Spain has a rich and fascinating history that I would love to know on a deeper level. I know a lot about it from studying in my classes, but would love to experience it in person.

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

One of the things that makes this company unique is its ambition. Our CEO, Derek Tano, has such a strong vision and entrepreneurial spirit that reflects his bold determination. He seized upon an idea that others have tried, but have done poorly in execution. Although very young, we have experience! I do not think that our desire is to be underestimated!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe the biggest factor is perseverance and support for one another. We are just starting out as an organization and we are all very passionate about our respective roles. It helps that we are, for the most part, familiar with each other, but we could easily get swept up without staying focused. It can be difficult when there are so many things to do in so short a time!