What Students Need to Know about the AC 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. 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.
How to Fulfill the AC Requirement
1. Many approved AC courses are taught on the UC Berkeley campus every term – including during summer sessions. 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 Berkeley Academic Guide 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 may be fulfilled off campus through transfer units from a community college or other institution. A list of non-UC Berkeley courses that fulfill the AC breadth requirement may be found here. Additionally, the website ASSIST provides information on California community college courses that have been pre-approved to fulfill the requirement.
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. 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 in considering petitions. Serious consideration should be given to the strength of a substitution request before students submit petitions.
Petitions should be submitted as early as possible in a student’s career at UC Berkeley. Students should be prepared to take an AC course in the event of denial. Denied petitions will only be reconsidered if new information is provided.
Student Petition Process
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 from the semester the student completed the course. 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. Incomplete petitions will be returned to the student without being reviewed. The letter must explain how the course fulfills the AC requirement by addressing the following questions from the AC Course Approval Guidelines:
- "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?
- "Does the course "address theoretical and analytical issues relevant to understanding race, culture, and ethnicity"?" How?
- "Does the course emphasize "integrative and comparative" approaches to questions of race, culture, and ethnicity within the larger context of American society and history?" How?
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.
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 additional materials.
Student Petition Review Timeline
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. Please email petitions to Rachel Marias Dezendorf until we return to campus in Fall 2021.
Petitions that the AC Subcommittee recommends for approval will be reviewed by the Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI), which has final approval authority. If COCI review is required for the petition students will receive a written response from the Academic Senate within two weeks of the COCI meeting when the petition was reviewed.
Senate staff cannot provide advice to students regarding the chances of a petition being approved or 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 Rachel Marias Dezendorf.