The American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS) was founded in 1984 to promote the systematic study of North Africa among interested scholars, specialists, students, and others concerned with the region.

AIMS sponsors The Journal of North African Studies (published by Francis and Taylor), sponsors annual academic conferences in North Africa, provides funding support for students and scholars to undertake research in the region, maintains overseas research centers in Tunis (CEMAT), Oran (CEMA) and Tangiers (TALIM), administers a yearly dissertation workshop for students, and provides other professional services to its members.

AIMS is governed by its appointed officers and a nine-member Board of Directors, elected for three year terms. The AIMS board meets annually in conjunction with the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). The board consists of two-third members appointed from the institutional membership, and one-third coming from the general membership. All members are invited to meet annually at the AIMS business meeting which generally directly follows the board meeting.

AIMS is a member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, which is housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Founded in 1981, CAORC is a private not-for-profit federation of 22 independent overseas research centers that promote advanced research, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, with focus on the conservation and recording of cultural heritage and the understanding and interpretation of modern societies. AIMS is the only CAORC affiliate that administers three overseas centers, covering an entire region.

AIMS receives support from the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the U.S. Department of Education. Specific programs have been supported by grants from other sources.