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Over 50 years at the forefront of experiential learning

EF’s founder Bertil Hult launched the world’ s largest educational company with a relatively simple idea: some people learn better through hands-on experience. His company, EF, was one of the pioneers the experiential learning movement in the 1960s and 1970s. And learning by doing remains at the heart of every EF program today.

One simple idea

The EF story began in 1960. Swedish student Bertil Hult had spent years struggling with dyslexia. Unsure of his future, he moved to London for work. After only a few short months, he was fluent in English—a feat he never thought possible.

That discovery inspired Bertil to launch EF Education First in 1965—an organization built on experiential learning, cultural immersion, and authentic connections. This experience is at the core of our educational philosophy.

EF Gap Year - The EF Story - Our past
EF Gap Year - The EF story - Our present

One global mission

Over 50 years later, Bertil and his family still lead the company and the EF story continues with dozens of experiential learning programs. We have now helped millions of people and have grown to become the world leader in international education. Yet we have always focused on one global mission: Opening the World Through Education.

Three pillars of learning

Today, people everywhere can participate in our mission of opening the world through education with our three pillars of learning:

EF Gap Year - The EF Story - Educational travel

Cultural experience

EF educational travel and cultural exchange programs provide international and domestic travel experiences, hands-on learning and lasting cultural connections for both students and adults.

EF Gap Year - The EF Story - Languages


Students learn new languages for school, work and personal growth both online and in EF classrooms around the world. Study abroad programs allow them to practice and improve where the language and culture come to life.

EF Gap Year - The EF story - Academics


Fully accredited EF schools offer International Baccalaureate diplomas and university preparatory classes—all of which emphasize experiential learning. In addition, our association with Hult International Business School, an independent educational institution, helps students  earn both a bachelors degree and an MBA.


Global citizenship through study abroad

The EF story is still of vital importance to the future. Study abroad is now essential to every student and institution in higher education—regardless of academic concentration. It fosters cross-cultural competency required in an increasingly interconnected world, and produces students who are more knowledgeable, reflective and aware.

Our role is to help you shape the next generation of global citizens. Because when educators frame their curriculum around the curiosity, humility and discovery of an international experience, powerful learning moments happen.

Questions? Speak with an EF Gap Year Consultant.