Frequently Asked Questions

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Schools must be approved by the AP Program before they can offer the AP Capstone Diploma™ Program.

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Questions about the course

AP Research lets students deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of interest to them. Students design, plan, and conduct a yearlong research-based investigation to address a research question, documenting their process with a portfolio. The course ends with a 4,000- to 5,000-word academic paper and a presentation with an oral defense.

Yes. To take AP Research, students must have successfully completed the AP Seminar course.

Yes. Because of the unique format of AP Research, teachers must undergo professional development.

The summer before the first year of teaching the course, you must complete a five-day workshop. During the winter of the first year of teaching the course, you must complete around 10 hours of additional online training. For more information, go to the AP Capstone professional development page.

  • The AP Research Course and Exam Description (.pdf/2.16MB) is the core document for you to download. It clearly lays out the course and assessment content, and describes AP Capstone and the AP Program in general.
  • The AP Research Teacher Community gives you the opportunity to learn from colleagues and create a library of resources.
  • The AP Capstone Implementation Guide (.pdf/1.89MB) gives information and models on how to implement the AP Capstone program for a variety of schedules and settings.

More information and resources can be found on the AP Research course home page.

Questions about the AP Course Audit

The AP Course Audit is an authorization process that provides teachers and administrators with guidelines and requirements for offering AP courses. It also ensures that AP courses across high schools meet the same college-level criteria.

Yes. Every school wishing to offer an AP course must participate in the AP Course Audit.

The AP Course Audit requires the online submission of two documents: the AP Course Audit form and the teacher’s syllabus. The AP teacher and the school principal (or designated administrator) submit the Course Audit form, acknowledging the curricular and resource requirements. The syllabus, detailing how the AP course requirements will be met, is submitted by the AP teacher for review by college faculty.

AP Course Audit will give you the tools you’ll need to create and submit your syllabus for authorization, including information and guidelines, sample syllabi, and a tutorial.

Go to AP Course Audit for more FAQs, resources, and information about the whole course audit process.

Questions about the assessment

The AP Research course culminates in an academic paper of 4,000 to 5,000 words and a presentation with an oral defense. The academic paper is validated by the College Board after being scored. For the oral defense panel AP Research teachers should choose two additional, adult panel members—expert advisers or discipline-specific experts. Both components are included in the calculation of a final AP score (using the 1-5 scale).

The digital portfolio is a web-based application that’s used for submitting individual and team work, and for teachers to post documents and score performance tasks. You can find detailed instructions on how to use the AP Digital Portfolio in the student user guide (.pdf/1.1MB) and teacher user guide (.pdf/2.3MB).

The AP Research Course and Exam Description (.pdf/2.18MB) gives detailed information on the assessment guidelines for the course. You’ll also find information and resources on the AP Research Exam page.