Our History

The CYA Story

For more than five decades, CYA (College Year in Athens) has offered unparalleled learning opportunities in Greece. It was established in 1962 and was the first study-abroad program in Greece for English-speaking undergraduates.

Beginning with a pioneering first class of four students, CYA quickly grew in size and recognition and currently serves more than 100 students each semester from top-tier U.S. colleges and universities. Although the program originally focused on the contributions of Archaic and Classical Greece to western civilization, over time the historical range was extended to include courses on contemporary Greece, the Mediterranean region and Europe.

CYA’s founder, Ismene Phylactopoulou (1907-1983) came to Greece in 1922 as a refugee from Smyrna. After graduating from Wellesley College, she recognized the tremendous historical and cultural importance of Greece to liberal arts students and set about creating a serious academic program in Athens for college-age North Americans.  “Mrs. Phyl,” as she was affectionately known, was not only committed to high academic standards but also displayed genuine concern for each student’s educational and personal growth. She was the Director of CYA for nearly two decades and received a Doctorate of Humane Letters from DePauw University in recognition of her achievements in study abroad.