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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 U.S. History Course

The AP U.S. History course should be designed by your school to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college course sequence in United States history. Your course should provide students with the analytic skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the topics and materials in U.S. history.

There are no specific curricular prerequisites for students taking AP U.S. History.

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 U.S. History (.pdf/137KB) - 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 U.S. History 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 U.S. History curricular requirements:

  • The course includes a college-level U.S. history textbook, diverse primary sources, and multiple secondary sources written by historians or scholars interpreting the past.
  • Each of the course historical periods receives explicit attention.
  • Students are provided opportunities to investigate key and supporting concepts through the in-depth study and application of specific historical evidence or examples.
  • Students are provided opportunities to apply learning objectives in each of the themes throughout the course.
  • Students are provided opportunities to analyze primary sources and explain the significance of an author’s point of view, author’s purpose, audience, and historical context. (Analyzing Primary Sources)
  • Students are provided opportunities to analyze and evaluate diverse historical interpretations. (Analyzing Secondary Sources)
  • Students are provided opportunities to compare historical developments across or within societies in various chronological and geographical contexts. (Comparison)
  • Students are provided opportunities to explain the relationship between historical events, developments, or processes and the broader regional, national, or global contexts in which they occurred. (Contextualization)
  • Students are provided opportunities to explain different causes and effects of historical events or processes, and to evaluate their relative significance. (Causation)
  • Students are provided opportunities to identify and explain patterns of continuity and change over time, explaining why these patterns are historically significant. (Continuity and Change Over Time)
  • Students are provided opportunities to articulate a historically defensible and evaluative claim (thesis). (Argument Development)
  • Students are provided opportunities to develop and substantiate an argument using historical reasoning, considering ways diverse or alternative evidence could be used to support, qualify, or modify the argument. (Argument Development)

AP U.S. History resource requirements:

  • The school ensures that each student has a college-level U.S. history textbook (supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements) for individual use inside and outside of the classroom.
  • 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 AP U.S. History course, including scholarly, college-level works that correspond with course topics; writings by major U.S. 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 and have met or exceed the required alignment to the learning objectives and skills in the course curriculum framework. 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.


  • 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.
  • Brinkley, Alan. American History: Connecting with the Past, Updated AP Edition. 15th edition. McGraw-Hill Education
  • Henretta, James A., Eric Hinderaker, Rebecca Edwards, and Robert O. Self. America’s History, For the AP® Course. 8th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Kennedy, David M., and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant. 16th edition. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning.
  • Newman, John J., and John M. Schmalbach. United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination. 1st edition. Perfection Learning.
  • 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. Perfection Learning, Oxford University Press.
  • Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty. 5th edition.  W.W. Norton and Company.
  • Shi, David E., and George Brown Tindall.  America: A Narrative History. 10th edition.  W.W. Norton and Company.

Supplemental Reader

Stacy, Jason and Stephen Heller. Documenting United States History: Themes, Concepts, and Skills for the AP Course. 1st edition. Bedford, Freeman and Worth Publishing Group.

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