IES Abroad

Who We Are

Since its founding in 1950, IES Global has grown to become a collective of brands comprised of IES Abroad, Customized & Faculty-Led Programs, IES Internships, and the Study Abroad Foundation (SAF), offering study abroad opportunities for students and college and university partners.

Mission, Vision & Values

Our Mission

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

Our Vision

Our vision for the future remains connected to our original program in 1950—a world filled with global citizens who have both the understanding and skills to effectively, humanely, and positively navigate across and with different cultures to make the world a better place.

Gregory Hess

“The sustained exposure to a range of cultures combined with the deep cultural immersion is one of the most powerful ways to spark a deeper understanding of not only those around you, but also of yourself and your own personal biases.”

Gregory Hess, Ph.D. • President & CEO of IES Global

Mission, Vision & Values
Justin P. · University of Rochester

Our Values


We believe in the power of study abroad and are committed to delivering meaningful and challenging experiences.


We are committed to being active participants in creating innovations that better the world.


We are dedicated to broadening access for students abroad, to meet everyone where they are, and treat them equitably.


We have an unwavering focus on academic excellence, health & safety support, and equity & inclusion.


We strive for honesty, transparency, and accountability in everything we do.

Our History

We launched our first program in 1950, more than 70 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. Among those wide-eyed, eager students were Clarence and Alberta Giese, young newlyweds from Chicago. They traveled with Paul Koutny, an idealistic Austrian student who envisioned the program while studying in the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship. 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, nearly 75 years later, the IES Global 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 & Faculty-Led Programs begin to be offered, the first in the industry.
  • 1957: First official affiliation established with a university abroad, Universitat Wien.
  • 1961: First study abroad scholarship is awarded.
  • 1965: The Academic Consortium of U.S. colleges and universities is established.
  • 1986: Expansion into Asia with opening of Nagoya Center.
  • 1999: A Dean of Students is hired, the first in the study abroad field.
  • 2002: Completion of a 50-year longitudinal study of alumni, the first in the field.
  • 2007: Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad (IDEA) is launched, first in the field.
  • 2013: IES Internships unit launches.
  • 2014: IES Abroad enrolls its 100,000th student.
  • 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’s Top Study Abroad Organization for the second year in a row.
  • 2021: Global Good Commitment and accompanying programming launched.
  • 2023: IES Abroad hosts first Diversity Workshop Abroad in London.