Who We Are

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Our Mission

We educate students to become global leaders through premier study abroad and internship programs, which offer students worldwide experiential learning opportunities that meet the highest standards of academic quality.


What Does IES Abroad Stand For?

Our full name is the Institute for the International Education of Students. We know, it's kind of a mouthful! 

What it means though, is that we're passionate about making meaningful academic and cultural education opportunities available to students around the world.

In fact, we've had a few names in our 65+ year history. We started as the Institute of European Studies, then became the Institute of European Studies/Institute of Asian Studies (IES/IAS), next Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), then finally our name became who we are today: IES Abroad.

Why Do We Do It? Our Passion Drives Us.

Everything we do is about the IES Abroad student.

We’re a passionate team of study abroad professionals who believe in creating once-in-a-lifetime educational adventures that transcend expectations.

We work at IES Abroad because we believe that every student should have the opportunity to go abroad—especially in a fun, safe, and superior academic and cultural environment.

We believe so strongly in the power of our program, that we actively recruit students from underrepresented populations and provide $5 million in scholarships and aid. We are proud that our students are as diverse and exciting as the countries they study in.

We’re not ashamed to admit, we're a little bit obsessed with study abroad.

Our History

We launched the first IES Abroad program in 1950, more than 65 years ago.

In September 1950, 23 American students boarded a ship to Vienna, where they would spend a year studying abroad in the Austrian capital.

They traveled with Paul Koutny, an idealistic Austrian student who envisioned the program while studying in the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship. Among those wide-eyed, eager students were Clarence and Alberta Giese, young newlyweds from Chicago.

The year abroad inspired the Gieses so deeply that upon returning home, they sold everything they owned and helped Mr. Koutny bring another group of students to Vienna—and then another, and another.

Today, more than 65 years later, the IES Abroad experience still elicits the same response from students as it did in 1950: that it irrevocably changed their lives.

  • 1950

    The first group of IES Abroad students board the SS Volendam to Vienna.

  • 1954

    Customized Programs begin to be offered, the first in the industry.

  • 1957

    First official affiliation established with a university abroad, Universitat Wien.

  • 1961

    Second Center is opened, in Paris, France.

  • 1961

    First study abroad scholarship is awarded.

  • 1965

    The Academic Consortium of U.S. colleges and universities is established.

  • 1965

    First IES Abroad Annual Conference for study abroad professionals is hosted.

  • 1976

    First program review is conducted, making IES Abroad the first provider to formalize its review process.

  • 1986

    Expansion into Asia with opening of Nagoya Center.

  • 1999

    A Dean of Students is hired, the first in the field.

  • 1999

    The IES Abroad Model Assessment Practice (MAP), initiated by President and CEO Dr. Mary Dwyer, is established; it’s the first educational tool to design and evaluate study abroad programs.

  • 2001

    President and CEO Dr. Mary Dwyer is one of the founders of the Forum on Education Abroad.

  • 2002

    Completion of a 50-year longitudinal study of alumni, the first in the field.

  • 2008

    Diversity Initiative is launched, first in the field.

  • 2009

    CORE (Comprehensive Orientation and Re-entry Experience) launches, helping students cope with new cultures and reverse culture shock.

  • 2010

    Completion of the Forum on Education Abroad’s Category 2A Quality Improvement Program (QUIP) review, first in the field.

  • 2011

    Publication of IES Abroad MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication, a tool designed to codify our holistic approach to language instruction that provides guidelines for students and teachers at each stage of a student’s development.

  • 2013

    Publication of IES Abroad MAP for Student Health, Safety & Crisis Management, a set of guidelines for addressing student safety and crisis management in study abroad programs.

  • 2013

    IES Internships unit launches.

  • 2014

    IES Abroad enrolls its 100,000th student.

  • 2014

    Study Abroad Film Festival premiers, the first in the field.

  • 2015

    Approval of The Forum on Education Abroad's Quality Improvement Program (QUIP) Interim Report.

  • 2017

    IES Abroad and the Study Abroad Foundation merge to offer students from around the world the most enriching study abroad experience available.

  • 2018

    Named GoAbroad.com’s Top Study Abroad Organization for the second year in a row.

Our Board of Directors

As a not-for-profit organization, we are managed by a Board of Directors—a group of leaders in the fields of study abroad; higher education; as well as local, national and international business. Meet our Board of Directors and Emeritus Board.

ies abroad staff at lunch tables in chicago office
Join Our Team

Want to join our profoundly passionate team of study abroad professionals? Check out our current job openings to be a part of the life-changing adventures we create every day.

ies abroad recruiting and advising staff
Learn More About IES Abroad