About AC Overview

In 1989,

UC Berkeley adopted the ground-breaking American Cultures (AC) undergraduate education requirement thanks to years of student and faculty protest and campaigning.

Background image: Apartheid Divestment Sproul Protest 1985

About the American Cultures Requirement

After over 30 years and the development of hundreds of courses, the American Cultures (AC) requirement has become a staple of the undergraduate experience at UC Berkeley, fundamentally changing and challenging the undergraduate curriculum to better present the diversity of the American experience.

Today, thanks to the support of the Division of Undergraduate Education and Equity & Inclusion, and our partnership with the Public Service Center, the AC Center offers courses in more than 49 departments and programs and supports a multitude of opportunities for faculty and student work. Below are some opportunities the AC Center offers in our work with students, faculty, staff and community organizations. 

History of the American Cultures Requirement

Fought for throughout the latter half of the 1980s, agreed upon by campus faculty in 1989, and the first courses launched in 1991, Ling-chi Wang, emeritus professor of Asian American Studies, called the American Cultures (AC) requirement “one of the most important curriculum-reform projects in the history of this campus. American Cultures challenges each discipline to raise questions that they had never raised before, and in the process, they have uncovered unknown aspects of their own disciplines.” Read More.


AC courses across more than 49 departments and programs are uniquely designed to focus on important issues related to the socio-cultural complexity of the U.S. Learn more about the courses offered at UC Berkeley and how to complete your AC requirement on our courses page.

American Cultures Engaged Scholarship Logo and Slogan "Take a course change yOUR future"The American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) Program

The ACES Program supports faculty in incorporating community-based learning opportunities into a new or existing AC course, by intertwining opportunities with community organizations and the AC curriculum.  Learn more on our ACES page.

ACES Student Projects

Students in American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) courses apply critical theoretical frameworks to a social justice project developed alongside a community organization. For examples of previous projects, visit our Student Projects page.

Faculty Grants 

Our center supports instructors to develop or revise an AC course and incorporate community-based learning in AC courses. Apply for the Course Development Grants or other Faculty Grants for support and resources in creating AC and ACES courses.

Student Prize

The AC Student Prize recognizes students for developing research projects in AC courses that promote a critical understanding of race, ethnicity, and culture with a $1000 scholarship, publication of their research, and continued benefits. Learn more about the Student Prize.

Innovation in Teaching Award

The Innovation in Teaching Award is presented to faculty who have used pedagogical developments to enhance students’ learning and understanding of race, ethnicity and culture in a comparative and integrative way. Recipients are honored at an award ceremony and presented with a grant. Learn More