beginning of content:

Important Updates

2019-20 AP Course Audit: What You’ll Need to Do

To give you more time to familiarize yourself with the new resources and supports that launched in August, you won’t be required to submit a syllabus for course authorization until the 2020-21 school year.

If you’re teaching a new AP U.S. Government and Politics course in 2019-20, you’ll need to:

  • Submit a subject-specific AP Course Audit Form
  • Download the AP U.S. Government and Politics unit guide

If you’re teaching a previously authorized AP U.S. Government and Politics course, make sure your school administrator renews your course in 2019-20.

These steps will ensure that your course appears on the AP Course Ledger and you have access to online score reports in July 2020.

AP Course Audit

All schools that want to label a course “AP” must get authorization through the AP Course Audit.

Get Started

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Sign up.

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 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

This is the core document for this course and is new for the 2019-20 school year. New unit guides clearly lay out the course content and skills and recommend sequencing and pacing for them throughout the year. The CED also more clearly outlines how material will be assessed on the exam, provides instructional strategies, and gives information on the AP Program in general.

Course Requirements

Use these resources to design your AP U.S. Government and Politics syllabus.


Your course must fulfill these requirements.

AP U.S. Government and Politics curricular requirements:

  • The students and teacher have access to a college-level U.S. government and politics textbook, news media, and diverse sources including: primary and secondary texts, quantitative data, and visual sources such as images, cartoons, and/or maps.
  • The course includes the 9 required foundational documents and 15 Supreme Court cases as described in the AP U.S. Government and Politics Curriculum Framework.
  • The course provides opportunities to deepen student understanding of the required content outlined in each of the units described in the course and exam description
  • The course provides opportunities to deepen student understanding of the big ideas of the course.
  • The course provides opportunities for students to develop the skills in disciplinary practices:
    • Disciplinary Practice 1: Concept Application
    • Disciplinary Practice 2: SCOTUS Application
    • Disciplinary Practice 3: Data Analysis
    • Disciplinary Practice 4: Source Analysis
    • Disciplinary Practice 5: Argumentation
  • 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 course framework that culminates in a presentation of findings.

AP U.S. Government and Politics resource requirements

  • The school ensures that each student has a college-level U.S. government and politics textbook as well as access to the required foundational documents and Supreme Court cases (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 the most recent edition of a U.S. government and politics college-level textbook or other appropriate materials to support instruction.
  • he 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 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 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 current editions of the following textbooks meet the 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.
  • 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,
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.