The Bunche Center was established as an Organized Research Unit (ORU), with the mission to develop and strengthen African American Studies through five primary organizational branches: research, academic programs, library and media center, special projects, and publications.

The Center supports research that (1) expands the knowledge of the history, lifestyles, and sociocultural systems of people of African descent and (2) investigates problems that have bearing on the psychological, social, and economic well being of persons of African descent. Research sponsored and conducted by the Bunche Center is multidisciplinary in scope and spans the humanities, social sciences, fine arts, and several professional schools.

The Interdepartmental BA and MA Programs (IDP) are affiliated with the Bunche Center and oversee the granting of undergraduate and graduate degrees in Afro-American Studies. The Center provides assistance to the IDP through administrative support and coordination of the curricula. The Center also administers three competitive scholarship programs–the Julian “Cannonball” Adderley Memorial Scholarship, the John Densmore Scholarship, and the Roxanne Chisholm and Jeanette Chisolm Moore Endowed Scholarship–that fund students majoring in Afro-American Studies and other disciplines.

The Bunche Center Library and Media Center (LMC) provides specialized information services to UCLA faculty, students, and staff and to researchers in the Southern California area at large. In so doing, it supports the academic programs and research projects in African American Studies and complements the resources of the UCLA library system.