Getting to the Know AP U.S. 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.
Your course must fulfill these requirements.
AP U.S. History curricular requirements:
- The teacher and students have access to a college-level U.S. history textbook, diverse primary sources, and multiple secondary sources written by historians or scholars interpreting the past.
- The course provides opportunities to develop student understanding of the required content outlined in each of the units described in the course and exam description.
- The course provides opportunities to develop student understanding of the course themes.
- The course provides opportunities for students to develop the historical thinking skills:
- Skill 1: Developments and Processes
- Skill 2: Sourcing and Situation
- Skill 3: Claims and Evidence in Sources
- Skill 4: Contextualization
- Skill 5: Making connections through the application of the three historical reasoning processes (comparison, causation, continuity and change)
- Skill 6: Argumentation
AP U.S. History resource requirements:
- The school ensures that each student has a college-level U.S. history textbook (in print or electronic format) published within the last 10 years 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 U.S. history textbook and other appropriate materials to support instruction.
- The school ensures that each student has copies of primary sources and other instructional materials used in the course for individual use inside and outside of the classroom.
- The school ensures that each student has access to support materials for the U.S. history course, including scholarly, college-level works that correspond with course topics; writings by major history authors; as well as standard reference works such as encyclopedias, atlases, collections of historical documents, and statistical compendiums, either in a school or public library or via the internet.
The list below represents examples of textbooks that meet the curricular requirements of AP U.S. 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 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 U.S. History classroom, please consult the AP U.S. History Teacher Community.
- Berkin, Carol, Christopher L. Miller, Robert W. Cherny, and James L. Gormly. Making America: A History of the United States. 7th edition. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning, 2015.
- Boyer, Paul S., Clifford E. Clark Jr., Karen Halttuenen, Joseph F. Kett, Neal Salisbury, Harvard Stikoff, and Nancy Woloch. The Enduring Vision, A History of the American People (AP Edition). 7th edition. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning, 2011.
- Brinkley, Alan. American History: Connecting with the Past, Updated AP Edition. 15th edition. McGraw-Hill Education, 2014.
- Corbett, P. Scott, Volker Janssen, John M. Lund, Todd Pfannestiel, Sylvie Waskiewiewicz, and Paul Vickery. U.S. History. OpenStax, 2014.
- Davidson, James West, Brian DeLay, Christine Leigh Heyman, Mark H. Lytle, and Michael B. Stoff. Experience History, Interpreting America's Past. 9th edition. McGraw-Hill Education, 2019.
- Divine, Robert A., T.H. Breen, R. Hal Williams, Ariela J. Gross, H.W. Brands. America Past and Present. 10th Edition, Pearson, 2013.
- Faragher, John Mack, Mari Jo Buhle, Daniel Czitrom, and Susan H. Armitage. Out of Many: A History of the American People. 8th edition. Pearson, 2016.
- Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty, AP Edition. 6th edition. W.W. Norton and Company, 2020.
- Fraser, James.By the People: A History of the United States. 2nd edition. Pearson, 2016.
- Henkin, David and Rebecca McLennan. Becoming America, A History for the 21st Century. 1st edition. McGraw-Hill Education, 2014.
- Henretta, James A., Eric Hinderaker, Rebecca Edwards, and Robert O. Self. America’s History, For the AP® Course. 8th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014.
- Hewitt, Nancy A., and Steven F. Lawson. Exploring American Histories: Combined Volume. 2nd Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.
- Kamensky, Jane, Carol Sheriff, David W. Blight, Howard P. Chudacoff, Fredrik Logevall, Beth Bailey, and Mary Beth Norton. A People and a Nation: A History of the United States. 11th edition. Cengage Learning, 2019.
- Kennedy, David M., and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant. 17th edition. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning, 2019.
- Locke, Joseph and Ben Wright, eds. The American Yawp. Stanford University Press, 2019.
- Murrin, John, Pekka Hämäläinen, Paul E. Johnson, Denver Brunsman, James McPherson, Alice Fahs, Gary Gerstle, Emily S. Rosenberg, and Norman Rosenberg. Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People. 7th edition. Cengage, 2015.
- Oakes, James, Michael McGerr, Jan Ellen Lewis, Nick Cullather, Jeanne Boydston, Mark Summers, Camilla Townsend, and Karen Dunak. Of the People: A History of the United States. 3rd edition. Oxford University Press, 2015.
- OpenStax; Bill of Rights Institute. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. 1st edition. OpenStax, 2020.
- Roark, James L., Michael P. Johnson, Francois Furstenberg, Sarah Stage, and Sarah Igo. The American Promise. 8th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2020.
- Shi, David E. America: A Narrative History. 11th edition. W.W. Norton and Company, 2019.
- Stacy, Jason, and Ellington, Matthew, J. Fabric of a Nation: A Brief History with Skills and Sources. 1st edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martins/BFW, 2020.
This annotated sample AP United States History syllabus shows how the curricular requirements can be demonstrated in a syllabus and what level of detail you’ll need to include.
AP United States History Sample Syllabus 1 (.pdf/456KB)
Review this document for help creating your syllabus.
Syllabus Development Guide: AP United States History (.pdf/ 271.71 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.