AP Capstone Program

AP Capstone is a College Board diploma program based on two year long AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. While other AP courses teach specific subject knowledge, AP Seminar and AP Research use an interdisciplinary approach to develop critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills.

Students typically take AP Seminar in grade 10 or 11, followed by AP Research. Each course is yearlong, and AP Seminar is a prerequisite for AP Research. In both courses, students investigate a variety of topics in multiple disciplines and have the opportunity to choose topics to explore.

Both courses guide students through completing a research project, writing an academic paper, and making a presentation on their project.

Over the course of the two-year program, students are required to:

  • Analyze topics through multiple lenses to construct meaning, gain understanding.
  • Plan and conduct a study or investigation.
  • Propose solutions to real-world problems.
  • Plan and produce communication in various forms.
  • Collaborate to solve a problem.
  • Integrate, synthesize, and make cross-curricular connections.


Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing receive the AP Capstone Diploma. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research but not on four additional AP Exams receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate.

College Credit

Most colleges in California that grant credit for these courses are either CSUs or Community Colleges. Use the credit policy search tool on the College Board website to find colleges and universities that offer credit and/or placement for a qualifying score in AP Seminar, AP Research, or both:

Find Colleges and Universities That Grant Credit for AP Seminar and AP Research


AP Seminar (Grade: 10-11; Elective Credit: 10) *Available beginning 2021-22

AP Seminar is a foundational course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics and issues by analyzing divergent perspectives. Using an inquiry framework, students practice reading and analyzing articles, research studies, and foundational, literary, and philosophical texts; listening to and viewing speeches, broadcasts, and personal accounts; and experiencing artistic works and performances. Students learn to synthesize information from multiple sources, develop their own perspectives in written essays, and design and deliver oral and visual presentations, both individually and as part of a team. Ultimately, the course aims to equip students with the power to analyze and evaluate information with accuracy and precision in order to craft and communicate evidence-based arguments. UC A-G approved – b English. NCAA approved.

Prerequisite: Application. Semester grade of C+ or better in most recent English and Social Studies courses.

AP Research (Grade: 11-12; Elective Credit: 10) *Available beginning 2022-23

AP Research, the second course in the AP Capstone experience, allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, issue, or idea of individual interest. Students design, plan, and implement a yearlong investigation to address a research question. Through this inquiry, they further the skills they acquired in the AP Seminar course by learning research methodology, employing ethical research practices, and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information. Students reflect on their skill development, document their processes, and curate the artifacts of their scholarly work through a process and reflection portfolio. The course culminates in an academic paper of 4,000–5,000 words (accompanied by a performance, exhibit, or product) and a presentation with an oral defense. UC A-G approved – g College Preparatory Elective. NCAA approved.

Prerequisite: AP Seminar is a prerequisite for AP Research. Completing AP Seminar and all its required assessment components is necessary for students to develop the skills to be successful in AP Research.)