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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 Environmental Science Course

The AP Environmental Science course should be designed by your school to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college course in environmental science. Your AP Environmental Science course should be based upon scientific principles and analyses from a variety of scientific fields and approaches, and include a scientific laboratory and/or field investigation component.

Schools’ AP Environmental Science courses are typically designed to be taken by students after the completion of two years of high school laboratory science (one year of life science and one year of physical science) and at least one year of algebra. Also desirable, but not necessary, is one year of earth science. Students are encouraged to keep copies of their laboratory and field investigation work for use in determining college credit or placement.

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 Environmental Science (.pdf/1.08MB) - 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 Environmental Science 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 Environmental Science curricular requirements:

  • The teacher has read the most recent AP Environmental Science Course Description (.pdf/529KB).
  • The course provides instruction in each of the following seven content areas outlined in the course description:
    • Earth Systems and Resources
    • The Living World
    • Population
    • Land and Water Use
    • Energy Resources and Consumption
    • Pollution
    • Global Change
  • The course provides students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world. The curriculum draws upon various scientific disciplines.
  • The course includes methods for analyzing and interpreting information and experimental data, including mathematical calculations.
  • The course teaches students how to identify and analyze environmental problems, to evaluate the ecological and human health risks associated with these problems, and to critically examine various solutions for resolving or preventing them.
  • The course includes a laboratory and/or field investigation component. A minimum of one class period or its equivalent per week is spent engaged in laboratory and/or field work.

AP Environmental Science resource requirements:

  • The school ensures that each student has a college-level environmental science textbook (supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements) for individual use inside and outside of the classroom.
  • The school ensures that students have access to scientific equipment and all necessary materials to conduct college-level environmental science laboratory and/or field investigations as outlined in the teacher’s course syllabus.
  • The school ensures that the teacher has copies of recent college-level text(s) or other appropriate college-level materials for his or her consultation. 

The list below represents examples of textbooks that meet the curricular requirements of AP Environmental Science. The list below 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 Environmental Science 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 Environmental Science classroom, please consult the AP Environmental Science Teacher Community.

  • Berg, Linda, Peter Raven, David Hassenzhal. Environment. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
  • Botkin, Daniel and Edward Keller. Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
  • Brennan, Scott R. and Jay H. Withgott. Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education.
  • Chiras, Daniel D. Environmental Science. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
  • Cunningham, William and Mary Cunningham. Environmental Science: A Global Concern. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
  • Enger, Eldon and Bradley Smith. Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
  • Friedland, Andrew and Rick Relyea. Environmental Science for AP. W. H. Freeman and Company.
  • Laposata, Matthew and Scott Brennan. Environment: The Science Behind the Stories–AP Edition. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education.
  • Miller, G. Tyler and Scott Spoolman. Living in the Environmental. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
  • Wright, Richard and Dorothy Boorse. Environmental Science. Boston, MA: Benjamin Cummings. 

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