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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 Psychology Course

The AP Psychology course should be designed by your school to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college course in psychology. Your course should introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals in context.

There are no specific curricular prerequisites for students taking AP Psychology.

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.

  • AP Psychology Course Description (.pdf/1.64MB) - Describes in detail the AP Psychology course and exam. Includes the curriculum framework and a representative sample of exam questions.

Creating Your Syllabus

Use these resources to design your syllabus.


Download this document for more help creating your syllabus.

  • Syllabus Development Guide: AP Psychology (.pdf/1.00MB) - 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 Psychology 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 Psychology curricular requirements:

  • The teacher has read the most recent AP Psychology Course Description (.pdf/461KB).
  • The course provides instruction in each of the following 14 content areas outlined in the AP Psychology Course Description:
    • History and Approaches
    • Research Methods
    • Biological Bases of Behavior
    • Sensation and Perception
    • States of Consciousness
    • Learning
    • Cognition
    • Motivation and Emotion
    • Developmental Psychology
    • Personality
    • Testing and Individual Differences
    • Abnormal Psychology
    • Treatment of Psychological Disorders
    • Social Psychology
  • As relevant to each content area, the course provides instruction in empirically supported psychological facts, research findings, terminology, associated phenomena, major figures, perspectives, and psychological experiments.
  • The course teaches ethics and research methods used in psychological science and practice.

AP Psychology resource requirements:

  • The school ensures that each student has a college-level psychology textbook (supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements) for individual use inside and outside of the classroom.
  • The school ensures that the teacher has his or her own copy of the most recent edition of the textbook used in the course.

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

  • Bernstein, Douglas A., Louis A. Penner, Alison Clarke-Stewart, and Edward J. Roy. Psychology. Boston: Cengage Learning.
  • Bernstein, Douglas A. Essentials of Psychology. Boston: Cengage Learning.
  • Cacioppo, John T. and Laura A. Freberg. Discovering Psychology: The Science of Mind. Boston: Cengage Learning.
  • Carlson, Neil R., Harold Miller, C. Donald Heth, John W. Donahoe, and G. Neil Martin. Psychology: The Science of Behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Carpenter, Siri and Karen Huffman. Visualizing Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • Ciccarelli, Saundra K., and J. Noland White. Psychology, AP Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Coon, Dennis, and John O. Mitterer. Psychology: A Journey. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning
  • Davis, Stephen. F., Joseph J. Palladino, and Kimberly M. Christopherson. Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Feldman, Robert S. Understanding Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Feldman, Robert S. Essentials of Understanding Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Gazzaniga, Michael S., and Diane Halpern. Psychological Science. New York: W. W. Norton.
  • Gray, Peter, and David F. Bjorklund. Psychology. New York: Worth.
  • Griggs, Richard A. Psychology: A Concise Introduction. New York: Worth.
  • Grison, Sarah, and Michael S. Gazzaniga. Psychology in Your Life. New York: W.W. Norton.
  • Hockenbury, Don H., and Sandra E. Hockenbury. Discovering Psychology. New York: Worth.
  • Huffman, Karen. Psychology in Action. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Kalat, James W. Introduction to Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • King, Laura. The Science of Psychology: An Appreciative View. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Kowalski, Robin M., and Drew Westen. Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Krause, Mark, and Daniel Corts. Psychological Science: Modeling Scientific Literacy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Lilienfeld, Scott O., Steven Jay Lynn, Laura L. Namy, and Nancy J. Woolf. Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Morris, Charles G., and Albert A. Maisto. Understanding Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Myers, David G. Exploring Psychology. New York: Worth.
  • Myers, David G. Psychology. New York: Worth.
  • Myers, David G. Myers’ Psychology for AP. New York: Worth.
  • Nairne, James S. Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
  • Nevid, Jeffrey S. Psychology: Concepts and Applications. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
  • Pastorino, Ellen and Susann Doyle-Portillo. What is Psychology, Essentials. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
  • Plotnik, Rod, and Haig Kouyoumadjian. Introduction to Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
  • Schacter, Daniel, Daniel Gilbert, Daniel Wegner, and Matthew K. Nock. Psychology. New York: Worth.
  • Wade, Carole, and Carol Tavris. Invitation to Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Weiten, Wayne. Psychology: Themes and Variations. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
  • Wood, Samuel E., Ellen G. Wood, and Denise G. Boyd. The World of Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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