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.
2018-19 AP U.S. Government and Politics Redesign
All teachers of previously authorized AP U.S. Government and Politics courses will need to submit a syllabus that meets the revised curricular requirements and have it authorized through the AP Course Audit in 2018-19. There are two ways teachers can do this:
- Option 1: Create and submit a syllabus aligned with the new curricular requirements, now available below.
- Option 2: Adopt one of the annotated sample syllabi, now available below.
Designing Your AP U.S. Government and Politics Course
The AP U.S. Government and Politics course should be designed by your school to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college course in United States government and politics. Your course should give students an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States, including the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific examples. The course should develop students’ familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute U.S. politics.
There are no specific curricular prerequisites for students taking AP U.S. Government and Politics, although previous coursework in U.S. history is recommended.
Getting to Know the 2018-19 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 U.S. Government and Politics Course and Exam Description (.pdf/2.00MB) - Describes in detail the redesigned AP U.S. Government and Politics course and exam launching in 2018-19 . Includes the curriculum framework and a representative sample of exam questions.
Creating Your Syllabus
Download this document for more help creating your syllabus.
- Syllabus Development Guide: AP U.S. Government and Politics (.pdf/1.21MB) - 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.
Your course must fulfill the curricular and resource requirements, and your syllabus should make it clear how the requirements will be addressed.
AP U.S. Government and Politics curricular requirements:
- The course includes the Foundations of American Democracy Unit and addresses all related big ideas (BIs) and enduring understandings (EUs).
- The course includes the Interactions Among Branches of Government Unit and addresses all related big ideas (BIs) and enduring understandings (EUs).
- The course includes the Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Unit and addresses all related big ideas (BIs) and enduring understandings (EUs).
- The course includes the American Political Ideologies and Beliefs Unit and addresses all related big ideas (BIs) and enduring understandings (EUs).
- The course includes the Political Participation Unit and addresses all related big ideas (BIs) and enduring understandings (EUs).
- The course integrates public policy within each unit.
- The course addresses the big ideas by connecting enduring understandings across one or more units.
- The course provides opportunities to analyze and compare political concepts.
- The course provides opportunities to analyze and interpret quantitative data to explain what the data implies or illustrates about political principles, institutions, processes, and behaviors.
- The course provides opportunities to analyze and interpret qualitative sources (primary and secondary sources including the nine required foundational documents) to explain how they relate to political concepts.
- The course provides opportunities to analyze and interpret visual information to explain how the elements of the visual illustrate or relate to political principles, institutions, processes, and behaviors.
- The course provides opportunities to apply course concepts and Supreme Court decisions in real-world contexts or scenarios.
- The course provides opportunities to develop an argument in the form of an essay, supported by relevant evidence, about a concept described in the AP U.S. Government and Politics Curriculum Framework.
- Students are provided with an opportunity to engage in a political science research or applied civics project tied to the AP U.S. Government and Politics Curriculum Framework that culminates in a presentation of findings.
- Students are provided opportunities to analyze the 15 required Supreme Court cases as described in the AP U.S. Government and Politics Curriculum Framework and connect them to other non-required landmark cases.
- Students and teachers have access to a college-level U.S. government and politics textbook.
AP U.S. Government and Politics resource requirements
- The school ensures that each student has a college-level U.S. government and politics textbook (supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements) as well as access to the required foundational documents and Supreme Court cases for individual use inside and outside of the classroom.
- The school ensures that each student has access to a variety of news sources in order to learn current examples and applications that may not be in the textbook.
- The school ensures that the teacher has copies of additional college-level U.S. government and politics textbooks or other appropriate college-level books for his or her own consultation, including the most recent edition of one of these.
- The school ensures that supplementary materials used by the teacher preserve the non-partisan nature of the course and collectively maintain a political balance in the perspective they require their students to study
The list below represents examples of textbooks that meet the resource requirements of AP U.S. Government and Politics 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 U.S. Government and Politics AP Course Audit resource requirements. Earlier editions of these texts or other textbooks not listed here may meet the AP Course Audit resource requirements if supplemented with appropriate college-level instructional resources. For discussions regarding the usefulness of these texts and other teaching materials in the AP U.S. Government and Politics classroom, please consult the AP U.S. Government and Politics Teacher Community.
- Barbour, Wright, Streb, Giroux. Keeping the Republic: Power and Citizenship in American Politics. CQ Press.
- Bianco, William T., and David T. Canon. American Politics Today. New York: W. W. Norton.
- Bond, Jon R. and Kevin B. Smith. Promise and Performance of American Democracy. Cengage Learning.
- Callahan, Brigid Harrison, Jean Wahl Harris, and Michelle D. Deardorff. American Democracy Now. McGraw-Hill.
- Cannon, David T. and William T. Bianco. American Politics Today. W.W. Norton
- Dye, Thomas R. and Harmon Zeigler. The Irony of Democracy: An Uncommon Introduction to American Politics. Cengage Learning.
- Evans, Jocelyn and Kristy Michaud. Central Ideas in American Government (online text). Soomo, http://soomopublishing.com/centralideas.
- Fiorina, Morris P., Paul E. Peterson, Bertram Johnson, and William G. Mayer. The New American Democracy. Pearson.
- Ginsberg, Benjamin, Theodore J. Lowi, and Margaret Weir. We the People: An Introduction to American Politics. W.W. Norton.
- Gitelson, Alan R., Robert L. Dudley, and Melvin J. Dubnick. American Government. New York: Cengage Learning.
- Greenberg, Edward S., and Benjamin I. Page. Struggle for Democracy. Pearson.
- Harrison, Brigid Callahan, Jean Wahl Harris, and Michelle D. Deardorff. American Democracy Now. McGraw-Hill.
- Janda, Kenneth, Jeffrey M. Berry, and Jerry Goldman. The Challenge of Democracy. 10th edition. Cengage Learning.
- Jillson, Carl. American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change. Routledge.
- Katznelson, Ira, Mark Kesselman, and Alan Draper. The Politics of Power: A Critical Introduction to American Government. W.W. Norton.
- Kernell, Samuel, Gary Jacobson, Thad Kousser, and Gregory Giroux. The Logic of American Politics. CQ Press.
- Kesselman, Mark, Alan Draper, and Ira Katznelson. The Politics of Power: A Critical Introduction to American Government. W.W. Norton.
- Lineberry, Robert L., Martin P. Wattenberg, and George C. Edwards. Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy. Pearson.
- Lowi, Theodore J, Benjamin Ginsberg, Kenneth A. Shepsle, and Stephen Ansolabehere. American Government: Power and Purpose. W.W. Norton.
- Magleby, David B., Paul C. Light, and Christine L. Nemacheck. Government by the People. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Miroff, Bruce, Raymond Seidelman, Todd Swanstrom, and Tom De Luca. The Democratic Debate: American Politics in an Age of Change. Cengage Learning.
- O’Connor, Karen and Larry J. Sabato. American Government: Roots and Reform. Pearson.
- Patterson, Thomas E. The American Democracy. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Schmidt, Steffen W., Mack C. Shelley, Barbara A. Bardes, and Lynne E. Ford. American Government and Politics Today. Cengage Learning
- Shea, Daniel M., Joanne Connor Green, and Christopher E. Smith. Living Democracy. Pearson.
- Squire, Peverill, James M. Lindsay, Cary R. Covington, and Eric R.A.N. Smith. Dynamics of Democracy. Cengage Learning.
- Welch, Susan, et al. Understanding American Government. 12th edition. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
- Wilson, James Q., and John J. DiIulio Jr. American Government: Institutions and Policies. Cengage Learning.