Academic and Career Exploration (ACE)

Academic and Career Exploration (ACE) is a program designed to provide students the opportunity to explore a major or field of interest.  ACE offers academically themed “houses,” linked to academic departments and programs, providing students the opportunity to live in a close-knit community with peers who have similar major or career interests. Utilizing the Freshman Learning Communities (FLC), together with a core transition and career decision-making year-long component, ACE intentionally creates a learning environment that recognizes how some of the most powerful learning in college takes place outside the classroom. Seminars and study groups occur in the residential community with faculty members and specially trained peer mentors helping to integrate the academic and social experience of our students. Residential staff, peer mentors, and the Faculty-in- Residence present co-curricular activities designed to connect classroom material and knowledge to real world experience. By being a member of the ACE, students make a year-long commitment to the courses (which earn them credit toward graduation) and the residential living community.

The required connected courses are year-long courses that students take together as a cohort to earn 8-14 units at the completion of freshman year. The majority of the units meet General Education (GE) and/or major requirements, and all of the courses are designed to address college readiness skills, necessary resources to be successful at SSU, and career and major exploration.       

Students who participate in ACE live in the ACE living/learning communities are housed Zinfandel  Village  which includes the Residential Life Office, Study Lounges, Service Desk, and Zinfandel Pool. To maintain a small, close-knit community where students have the opportunity to create one-on-one relationships with faculty and staff associated with the program, space is limited to 350 residents across the six houses.


Sonoma State University's ACE program provides small thematic living/learning communities to enhance the academic experience during the freshman year. We promote intellectual pursuits, personal responsibility, civic engagement, and positive intentional relationships with faculty and peers.

Academic and Career Exploration Houses

Please note that the following majors are not eligible to participate in the ACE program due to required major courses that conflict with ACE classes: Chemistry/Biochemistry, Communication Studies, Engineering, Hutchins, Mathematics, Music and Theater Arts.

Arts and Humanities House

This house is designed for students majoring in any Arts and Humanities major or thinking about one of these majors or a career in these fields (e.g. American Multicultural Studies, English, Philosophy, Modern Language & Literature, Theater Arts & Dance etc. ). Students in this house will have the opportunity to explore the world of performing arts, learn about other cultures, and explore creative thinking and writing.

Business and Economics House

This house caters to students majoring in Business or Economics or considering either major or career. Students in this house will learn about the economy, marketing strategies, leadership, and management. Students interested in the Business and Economics House may need to be GE Math ready.

Science and Technology

This house is for students majoring in any Science and Technology major or considering one of these majors or careers  (e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Nursing, Kinesiology, Physics, etc). Students interested in the Science and Technology House may need to be GE math ready.

Social Science House

This house is designed for students majoring in any Social Science or who wants to explore one of these majors or careers (e.g. Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, History,Criminology and Criminal justice, Anthropology, etc.). Students in this house will have the opportunity to explore human behavior, think critically, and learn intercultural awareness.

Discovery House

This house is for students who are truly undeclared and undecided on a major or career path. Students in this house will explore majors and career possibilities across all of the disciplines and will be given advice on how to choose the right academic pathway for them. 

Social Change House

This house is for students of any major seeking to learn about  and receive guidance through the various ways in which to create social change.  Students will learn about the current cultural, social, and political climate and explore how make an impact by addressing matters affecting SSU, the local area, and/or society.  By identifying personal interests and passions, students explore how to apply them into their academics and future endeavors.

Teaching K-12 House

This house is well-suited for students of any major, interested in a career in an educational setting. Students in this house will have the opportunity to learn about careers in education and explore leadership roles in educational settings.

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    Through active participation in the ACE community, students will:

  • Understand the academic offerings of the university and participate in co-curricular programming
  • Explore both academic and career pursuits within their area of interest
  • Connect with multiple faculty within their possible fields of study and form close connections with them
  • Learn how to utilize faculty as resources during their academic career
  • Increase interaction within a classroom setting with students who have common interests and academic pursuits
  • Demonstrate skills to help increase college success, such as note taking, time management, study skills, critical thinking, etc.
  • Be introduced to leadership goals and give them experience with student leadership opportunities on campus  
  • Increase awareness of campus resources that will support their academic and personal development in college
Student Leader Staff
One of the signature points of the ACE Program is the utilization of a team of advanced student leaders who play a critical role in connecting the classroom to the living room. Each ACE cohort has one Peer Mentor, who co-teaches a specialized section of University 102 (First Year Experience transitions course) and a Community Service Advisor (CSA), who resides in the building and creates community building activities and events. The student leader team also arranges for outside of the class field trips, and events with faculty members. Additionally, they will focus on teaching ACE residents effective study skills, including the utilization of study groups within their community.

Strong Faculty Commitment

Strong connections with  faculty complement the ACE program. The importance of faculty commitment to this program is affirmed by out-of-class involvement with students at meals, study sessions, field trips, and receptions

There is no additional fee to participate in the program, even though there are many additional benefits provided by both the Residential Life Office and the academic departments. There are no English Placement. Requirements. Students selecting the Science House and the Business and Economics house may need be GE Math ready .
Because there is the living component, students must live on-campus in the ACE building their entire freshman year. Failure to maintain enrollment in all ACE courses will result in a forfeit of the ACE contract and students will be required to move to a different building or village, space permitting.

This is a competitive program based on a first-come first-serve basis. To apply, review the House options and any related restrictions. Then, select ACE as your desired Academic Community when you complete your online Housing License Agreement. This process takes place through the Housing Office in the spring.

Prospective students who are interested in being a part of ACE should contact:
For residential and programming questions:
Becky Young
Area Coordinator

For course registration and enrollment questions:
Alvin Nguyen
FLC Coordinator