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Getting to Know the AP Art History Course

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 course and exam.

AP Art History Course and Exam Description (.pdf/43.9MB)


Your course must fulfill these requirements.

AP Art History Curricular Requirements:

  • The students and teacher have access to a college-level art history textbook (print or electronic) and images of the required works of art.
  • The students and teacher have access to diverse types of primary sources and multiple secondary sources written by historians or scholars interpreting the past.
  • The course provides opportunities to develop student understanding of the big ideas.
  • The course provides opportunities to develop student understanding of the required content outlined in each of the units.
  • The course provides opportunities for students to develop the art historical thinking skills:
    • Skill 1: Visual Analysis
    • Skill 2: Contextual Analysis
    • Skill 3: Comparison of Works of Art
    • Skill 4: Artistic Traditions
    • Skill 5: Visual Analysis of Unknown Works
    • Skill 6: Attribution of Unknown Works
    • Skill 7: Art Historical Interpretations
    • Skill 8: Argumentation

AP Art History resource requirements:

  • The school ensures that each student has a college-level art history textbook (in print or electronic format) for individual use inside and outside of the classroom. The textbook is supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements.
  • The school ensures that the teacher has a copy of a recent edition of a college-level art history textbook or other appropriate materials to support instruction.
  • The school ensures that each AP Art History class has access to a digital projector and screens for viewing at least 2 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 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 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 current editions of the following textbooks meet the 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. While every effort is made to keep this list current, it can take a few months for newly published titles and revised editions to be reviewed.

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. 2nd edition. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. (represented by W.W. Norton), 2015.
  • Graham-Dixon, Andrew. Art: The Definitive Guide. 1st edition. DK Publishing, 2018.
  • Honour, Hugh, and John F. Fleming. The Visual Arts: A History. 7th edition. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2013.
  • Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History. 15th edition. Cengage Learning, 2016.
  • Lazzari, Margaret, and Dona Schlesier. Exploring Art: A Global, Thematic Approach. 5th edition. Cengage Learning, 2015.
  • Ritchie, Nigel. Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary. DK Publishing, 2008.
  • Schneider-Adams, Laurie. Art Across Time. 4th edition. McGraw-Hill Education, 2010.
  • Stokstad, Marilyn, and Michael Cothren. Art History. 6th edition. Pearson, 2017.
  • Wilkins, David, Bernie Schultz, and Katheryn M. Linduff. Art Past, Art Present. 6th edition. Pearson, 2008.

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

AP Art History Sample Syllabus 1 (.pdf/223KB)

Review this document for help creating your syllabus.

Syllabus Development Guide: Art History (.pdf/204.67 KB)

This resource 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.

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