Fulfilling the AC Graduation Requirement


A. Satisfaction of the American Cultures Breadth Requirement is a prerequisite for every Bachelor's Degree awarded to students who begin their studies at Berkeley in lower-division standing in Fall 1991 or thereafter, or upper-division standing in Fall 1993 or thereafter.

B. The American Cultures Breadth Requirement is satisfied by passing, with a grade not lower than C- or P, a course expressly approved for that purpose by the appropriate committee of the Berkeley Division.

C. The courses that satisfy this requirement must be integrative and comparative and address theoretical and analytical issues relevant to understanding race, culture, and ethnicity in American history and society.  Each course will take substantial account of groups drawn from at least three of the following: African Americans, indigenous peoples of the United States, Asian Americans, Chicano/Latinos, and European Americans.           

D. The courses satisfying this requirement are not precluded from satisfying other requirements. 

Helpful information for students, instructors, and advisers can be found on the website of the American Cultures Center (http://americancultures.berkeley.edu/). This website provides FAQs, a history of the AC requirement, further details about what is expected from an AC Course, and many more resources for those who want to learn more about the American Cultures requirement here at UC Berkeley.


1. Many approved AC courses are taught on the UC Berkeley campus every term – including the summer.

Students may choose to take an AC course in their field of study in order to expand their experience within the field. However, many students use their AC course as an opportunity to take a course outside of their major. You can search the online course catalog for all approved AC courses, or search the online schedule of classes to find out what courses are being offered for the current and upcoming semesters. 

2. The AC requirement can be fulfilled off campus through transfer units from a community college or other institution. (Pre-approved AC courses for community colleges can be found on www.assist.org.)

3. Students can petition to substitute a course they have already passed for AC credit but they should always be aware that the Academic Senate might not approve their petitions.

Just because a course may “look like” or “feel like” an AC course does not mean that it will actually fulfill the AC requirement. AC courses and the AC requirement are governed by a very specific regulation that is interpreted and applied by the Academic Senate’s Subcommittee on the Breadth Requirement in American Cultures (a.k.a. “AC Subcommittee” or “AmCult”).

Student petitions are rigorously reviewed and the Subcommittee applies the highest standards of college-level course material, course readings, and analytical skills required for course assignments. Serious consideration should be given to the strength of a substitution request before students submit petitions.

Petitions should be submitted as early as possible, and students should be prepared to take an AC course in the event of denial.


In order to request the substitution of a course for AC credit, students must submit (1) the student petition form, (2) a letter written by the student explaining how the course fulfills the AC requirement, and (3) a copy of the course syllabus. Additionally, students may submit a letter from the instructor explaining how the course fulfills the AC requirement. The letter from the instructor is optional, but the letter from the student is required.

Make sure that all the blanks have been filled in on the form. You can download the form here.

The letter must explain how the course fulfills the AC requirement:

  • “Does the course address theoretical and analytical issues relevant to understanding race, culture, and ethnicity?” How?
  • “Is the course integrative and comparative within the larger context of American society, history, culture, economy, or environment?” How?
  • “Does the course take substantial account of groups drawn from at least three of the following: African Americans, indigenous peoples of the United States, Asian Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, and European Americans?” How is each group incorporated into the course?

 If the student is submitting a letter from the instructor, the student is strongly encouraged to provide a copy of these three questions directly to the instructor to ensure that the instructor’s letter includes all the needed information. These questions are part of the AC Course Approval Guidelines.

The course syllabus must include:

  • A detailed course description;
  • Detailed lecture and discussion topics;
  • A complete list and description of required assignments; and
  • A course reading list.

If any of these items are missing from the official course syllabus, students are expected to attach them themselves.


  • The AC Subcommittee meets once a month, during the fall and spring semesters, on Fridays. Student petitions must be received by 5 p.m. on the Friday before the meeting. Students will receive a written response from the Academic Senate within two weeks of the meeting when the petition was reviewed.
  • All materials should be submitted directly to the Academic Senate in 320 Stephens Hall #5842.
  • Petitions that the AC Subcommittee recommends for approval will be reviewed by the Committee on Courses of Instruction, which has final approval authority. The list of meeting dates are available here.
  • Senate staff cannot provide advising to students regarding the chances of a petition for AC credit nor can the staff advise students on how to write a “good petition.”
  • For procedural questions or questions about the status of a petition, contact the Subcommittee directly, c/o Senate Analyst Sumali Tuchrello (sumali@berkeley.edu).



Committee Ref 
American Cultures