Who We Are

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.

What Makes Us Different

One-Stop Shopping

We do more than travel. We operate call centers, provide marketing support, and handle pre-trip operations. We offer consulting and campus internationalization services. Through our study abroad division, we serve high school, gap year, and college students. We meet the needs of alumni, donors, and families. Partners may come to us for the bricks, but they soon find that we do the mortaring, too.

Sterling Reputation

Reputations are earned not given. We’ve earned ours through 70 years of impeccable quality, inspiring innovation, handcrafted customization, and trusted service. Simply put, we take the time to do things right…every single time.



We give back. We actively seek out ways to contribute meaningfully to our world, our field, and our community, and we support several philanthropic organizations that speak to our values.

Unwavering Stability

Our line of work may change with the daily headlines, but in that sea of variability, we are the constant. In our 70 years of operation, we’ve weathered every possible storm. What’s more, we’ve learned how to alter our course, batten down the hatches, and even predict landfall. At the helm of that experience stands our senior leadership team, a team that has worked together for over a quarter century and fosters an unparalleled level of stability within the organization.


Breadth, Depth, and Nuance

We have no patience for the cursory. We relish the exercise of matching audience to pursuit and inquiry to expert. As a result, our programs don’t just display destinations…they explore destinations. Our trips include innovative elements with exclusive entrée and behind-the-scenes access, thanks to our wide network of knowledge specialists, travel professionals, and academic experts.

Innovation & Customization

Most think of travel as going from place to place. We think of it as going from idea to idea. That’s why customization and innovation are so key—we learn what ideas interest you so we can handcraft the perfect program. We’ve even woven customization and innovation into business operations to ensure that each itinerary brings ideas and themes to life.


We are committed to leaving behind an earth that is better than the one we found. We adopt environmentally sustainable practices in our offices and do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint while traveling.

Meticulous Crisis Prevention

In the travel industry, risk is inevitable. We spend considerable resources protecting ourselves, our clients, our travelers, and our students against risk whenever possible. We manage foreign currency carefully to protect our prices, carry the highest level of insurance in our industry, and safeguard our stability through the on-going diversification of our portfolio.

Our Leadership

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.

Our Mission

To create unique educational experiences for intellectually curious students of all ages, to consistently exceed the expectations of our partners, to provide stimulating career opportunities and an inclusive, supportive work environment to our employees, to maintain our industry leader status through relentless innovation and exceptional quality, to contribute substantially to justice, equity, and sustainability in our world, our field, and communities, to excel in fiscal management and ensure our organization’s profitability, long-term growth, and success.

Our Credo

We believe that learning through travel is an enriching, life-changing experience, and we combine our talents to provide engaging cultural opportunities to our travelers and students.

One Company, Two Divisions, Endless Possibilities

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.