The American College of the Mediterranean (ACM) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Institute for American Universities (IAU), an independent, free-standing institution founded in 1957 by academics and former diplomats such as Dr. Herbert Maza (who also served as its first President), Dr. Evron Kirkpatrick, Ambassadors Jeane Kirkpatrick, Dr. Max Kampelman, and others who wanted to provide a platform for American students interested in studying diplomatic relations with related interests and careers in the Foreign Service and the State Department. 

The mission of the American College of the Mediterranean is to provide excellence in international education, inspire intercultural awareness, and prepare students for success in a global community through the study of European and Mediterranean history, languages, cultures, and contemporary issues. It does so through a unique combination of courses, internships, curricula, that combine to create American-style undergraduate and graduate degree programs in an international and cross-cultural setting. 

ACM seeks to become a distinguished hybrid institution which integrates the best practices and values of an international institution of Higher Education with those of a degree-granting American-style university. ACM’s parent institution, IAU, is a founding member of the Association of American International Colleges and Universities (AAICU), a network of prestigious American institutions of higher learning located throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, dedicated to promoting American-style education abroad. Thanks to these connections, IAU, and by extension ACM, share resources and expertise with premiere academic institutions such as American University of Beirut, American University of Cairo, American University of Paris, and Central European University.

IAU was initially established under the authority of Aix-Marseille University and offered a study abroad program for American students providing transfer credit back to American universities for students willing to live and study in France for one year. With IAU’s inception, it became the first institution to offer study abroad programs to students with majors other than French language, since in the late 1950s the only way to study in France was through French universities using the native language.

As one of the first institutions to make study abroad available to non-language majors, IAU established itself as a European center for undergraduate study in the arts, humanities, and social sciences for students from over 500 U.S. colleges and universities. Located in Aix-en-Provence, France since 1957, IAU is often considered to be one of the oldest and largest study abroad programs of its kind in Europe

By 1966 IAU was enrolling approximately 500 students a year and in 1976 it incorporated The Marchutz School of Fine Arts (founded by Leo Marchutz) into its offerings. In 2012, IAU began identifying itself as a study abroad College to reflect the fact that its program offerings, curriculum, and support services mirrored those found at U.S. institutions. In 2013, IAU expanded its offerings and opened a summer program option in Barcelona, Spain. In addition, it began offering multi-country January term/intersession seminars in Europe and North Africa as a way of leveraging more effectively its location within Mediterranean region as an educational asset. Shortly thereafter, IAU began welcoming U.S. faculty-led programs to support U.S. professors seeking a customized study abroad experience for their students.  A resident fellows program that supports university faculty on sabbatical soon followed. To date, IAU has served more than 700 colleges and universities, more than 20,000 undergraduates, and has an annual enrollment of approximately 1,000 study abroad students.

In 2015 IAU launched its initial tranche of degree programs and welcomed its first MFA (Master of Fine Arts) students at The Marchutz School. The decision to establish degree-granting programs emanated from a 2014 decision of the Board of Trustees of IAU to pursue U.S. accreditation, coincident with its appointment of IAU’s fifth president, Dr. Carl Jubran. IAU was supported in its decision by its Council of Academic Advisors (CAA). In 2016, IAU filed articles of incorporation for The American College of the Mediterranean (ACM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of IAU, that would ultimately house its degree programs.

IAU currently provides its own transcripts to students who complete its study abroad programs. This is done through direct affiliation agreements which allow for the direct transfer of academic credit. In cases where U.S. institutions will not accept IAU credit directly, IAU has longstanding partnerships with several regionally-accredited U.S. Schools of Record including Fairfield University, SUNY-Fredonia, Northern Illinois University, and Truman State University. These institutions also provide the final transcript to IAU alumni. Until ACM achieves regional accreditation through a U.S. accreditor, it is pursuing recognition of its new degrees and course equivalencies through Northern Illinois University, its oldest and most longstanding School of Record.