The purposes of this article is to develop a cultural approach in higher education studies. It will be argued that the cultural approach is rooted mainly in two different intellectual starting points to analyze academic communities as cultural entities: studies of disciplinary cultures and institutional cultures. Notions of disciplines as cultural entities have been developed in Europe in relation to the “two cultures” topic and to issues developed in the sociology of knowledge. The institutional studies tradition is, in turn, rooted in the American intellectual tradition, where cultural concerns emerge from institutional level phenomena whether they concern students, faculty or higher education institutions. The article discusses the pros and cons of these traditions in order to find new avenues for future research. It will be argued that academic identity provides a seminal perspective for cultural studies in higher education.