The American College of Sofia (Американски колеж в София, Amerikanski kolezh v Sofiya; abbreviated as ACS) is one of the top and most prestigious secondary schools in Bulgaria and the Balkans, based in the capital city of Sofia. The college, founded in 1860, is regarded as the oldest American educational institution outside the United States. American pedagogical methods are used and the primary language of instruction is English.
Founded in 1860 in the then-Ottoman Empire, it primarily existed as a boys' school in Plovdiv established by American missionaries of the Congregational Church. By co-operating with a girls' school in Stara Zagora founded by the same people, the American College was established and moved to Samokov in 1871. The teachers were mostly Americans and many of the school's Bulgarian students went on to become ministers and important social figures.
As the Mission Boards decided to close the schools at Samokov and leave Bulgaria, a decision met with protests and discontent among Bulgarian alumni and American donors alike, the schools were transferred to another organization, Sofia American Schools, Inc., merged and moved to Sofia in 1926. The construction of a campus in Simeonovo began the same year to start accommodating 119 girls in 1928, 63 boys in 1929, as well as the remaining 130 a year later.
With Bulgaria initially being on the side of the Axis Powers during World War II, many of the teachers left and only a handful had remained when Bulgaria declared war on the United States in December 1941. They continued to operate the college until ousted by Nazi authorities in the autumn of 1942. As the war ended and Bulgaria became a Communist state, the American College's entire property was confiscated in 1947 and the campus was used as the office of the Bulgarian State Police during the times of Communism.
The college was reopened in September 1992, enrolling 50 boys and 50 girls from over 3,000 that signed up to take the specified test. Much of the old campus and many of the pre-World War II American College buildings have since then been given back to the college, yet parts of the campus are still occupied by the Police Academy. As of 2005, the American College of Sofia has 606 Bulgarian and 33 foreign students and has enrolled over a thousand, with 848 graduating. Since June 2005, the college also offers the IB Diploma Programme, only for the international students. The current president of the American College of Sofia is Thomas Cangiano, former Cleve Housemaster and History Master at the Lawrenceville School. The first class of the reopened school celebrated their 10-year reunion in June 2007.