Academic Travel Abroad, Inc. is an educational travel provider for some of this country’s most prestigious organizations. Riding the post-war wave of interest in travel to Europe, ATA launched operations in 1950 by assisting universities and cultural institutions in the creation of group travel programs for their members. Today, ATA is a leader in cultural and educational group travel and serves partners such as The New York Times, Smithsonian Institution, American Institute of Architects, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As a business-to-business enterprise, ATA is frequently the “brand behind the brand.” However, the company does have two public-facing brands: CET Academic Programs operates study abroad programs for high school, gap year, and college students, and Professionals Abroad organizes delegations that connect professionals through international exchange. Tying together all brands and services are ATA’s focus on innovative program design, collaborative approach to partnership, steadfast insistence on quality, and commitment to environmental sustainability. Every ATA program is designed to change perspectives, deepen understanding, and engage communities.
Kate Simpson, Chase Poffenberger, and Mark Lenhart share more than ownership of ATA. They share a history—each started at the company over 25 years ago, in 1988, 1989, and 1990 respectively. They share a background—each served first in a China programs role (notably, their meetings today are held in English, not Mandarin!) Most importantly, they share a passion for international learning and a commitment to fostering exceptional experiences for ATA travelers and staff alike.
But more than just who they are, what makes us proudest of our owners is what they do. You will not find richer expertise, deeper knowledge, longer-standing connections, or wider networks in the educational travel field than you will within the leadership team at ATA. This unparalleled level of experience and commitment has kept our company going strong for almost seven decades.
You may know ATA as educational travel. In fact, educational travel is only half of our equation. The other half is CET Academic Programs, our study abroad division. CET has developed and operated innovative educational programs abroad since 1982, and has been a division of ATA since 1994. Originally “China Educational Tours,” CET began operations in Beijing, later expanding to other locations around the world. Today, CET offers a varied portfolio of semester, summer, and customized programs around the world for college, high school, pre-college, and gap year students. 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.
Our two divisions—educational travel and study abroad—complement and support each other, forming a whole that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. We are one company with two divisions, but what we can do is immeasurable.