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All schools that want to label a course “AP” must get authorization by going through the AP Course Audit. This means submitting two things:

  • A subject-specific AP Course Audit Form
  • A course syllabus

Teachers have the option to create their own syllabus or adopt one of the sample syllabi provided. A teacher-created syllabus is checked by our reviewers to ensure that the course fulfills the AP Program’s course-specific curricular and resource requirements.

We offer plenty of resources, below, to help teachers understand course requirements and create a syllabus that fulfills these.

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Designing Your AP Art History Course

The AP Art History course should be designed to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college art history survey. The course should develop an understanding and knowledge of diverse historical and cultural contexts of architecture, sculpture, painting, and other art media. Teachers of AP Art History can come from a variety of backgrounds, including history, humanities, and art.

There are no specific curricular prerequisites for students taking AP Art History.

Getting to Know the Course and Exam

The key document for each AP course is the course and exam description. Start by reviewing it to understand the objectives and expectations of the AP course and exam.

Creating Your Syllabus

Use these resources to design your syllabus.


Download this document for more help creating your syllabus.

  • Syllabus Development Guide: AP Art History  (.pdf/596KB) - Includes the guidelines reviewers use to evaluate syllabi along with three samples of evidence for each requirement. This guide also specifies the level of detail required in the syllabus to receive course authorization.

These four annotated sample AP Art History syllabi show how the curricular requirements can be demonstrated in a syllabus and what level of detail you’ll need to include.

Your course must fulfill these requirements, and your syllabus should make it clear how the requirements will be addressed.

AP Art History curricular requirements:

  • Students and teachers use college-level resources, including diverse primary sources, secondary sources, and a college-level art history textbook.
  • The big ideas and essential questions in the AP Art History Course and Exam Description (.pdf/45MB) are used as a conceptual foundation for the course.
  • Each of the 10 AP Art History content areas in the AP Art History Course and Exam Description receives explicit attention.
  • Students have opportunities to engage with all 12 course learning objectives in the AP Art History Course and Exam Description through specific assignments and activities.
  • Students are provided opportunities to analyze works of art both visually and contextually.
  • Students are provided opportunities to analyze interpretations of works of art from primary or secondary sources.
  • Students are provided opportunities to analyze relationships between works of art across cultures and from different content areas.
  • Students have opportunities to use enduring understanding and essential knowledge statements as a foundation to conduct research on a specific work of art.
  • Students are provided opportunities to experience actual works of art or architecture.

AP Art History resource requirements:

  • The school ensures that each student has access to a college-level art history textbook in hard copy and/or electronic format (supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements) for individual use inside and outside of the classroom.
  • The school ensures that each AP Art History class has access to a digital projector and screens for viewing at least two works of art side by side.
  • The school ensures that each AP Art History class has access to digital images covering the material addressed in the course.
  • The school ensures that the teacher has access to additional appropriate college-level art history resources for his or her consultation.

The list below shows examples of textbooks that meet the curricular requirements of AP Art History. The list is not exhaustive and the texts listed should not be regarded as endorsed, authorized, recommended, or approved by the College Board. Not using a book from this list does not mean that a course will not receive authorization. Syllabi submitted as part of the AP Course Audit process will be evaluated holistically, with textbooks considered along with supplementary, supporting resources to confirm that the course as a whole provides students with the content delineated in the curricular requirements of the AP Course Audit.

The specified editions of the following textbooks meet the AP Art History AP Course Audit curricular requirements. Earlier editions of these texts or other textbooks not listed here may meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements if supplemented with appropriate college-level instructional resources. For discussions regarding the usefulness of these texts and other teaching materials in the AP Art History classroom, please consult the AP Art History Teacher Community.

  • DeWitte, Debra J., Ralph M. Larmann, and M. Kathryn Shields. Gateways to Art: Understanding the Visual Arts. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. & W.W. Norton.
  • Graham-Dixon, Andrew. Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary. DK Publishing.
  • Honour, Hugh, and John F. Fleming. The Visual Arts: A History. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.
  • Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History. Cengage Learning.
  • Lazzari, Margaret, and Dona Schlesier. Exploring Art: A Global, Thematic Approach. Cengage Learning.
  • Stokstad, Marilyn, and Michael Cothren. Art History. Pearson.
  • Wilkins, David, Bernie Schultz, and Katheryn M. Linduff. Art Past, Art Present. Pearson.

Before you submit your syllabus, use this checklist to make sure it has all the elements required.