AP Capstone Program

Erie High School is excited to move into its first year as an AP Capstone school.  We've selected our first AP Capstone class who will begin working toward their AP Capstone Diploma in the Fall of 2015.

What is AP Capstone?

AP Capstone is an innovative diploma program that provides students with an opportunity to engage in rigorous scholarly practice of the core academic skills necessary for successful college completion.
AP Capstone is built on the foundation of two courses — AP Seminar and AP Research — and is designed to complement and enhance the in-depth, discipline-specific study provided through AP courses. It cultivates curious, independent, and collaborative scholars and prepares them to make logical, evidence-based decisions.

  • Fosters the research, argumentation, and communication skills that are at the core of college readiness and essential for lifelong learning
  • Provides a setting to build on the knowledge and rigorous course work of AP in an interdisciplinary format
  • Offers students a unique opportunity to distinguish themselves to colleges and universities
  • Builds professional excellence through participation in an intensive, weeklong collaborative professional development institute
  • Offers a flexible curricular content model with room for creativity and student input
  • Affords schools and districts the distinction of offering a rigorous, widely recognized diploma program
  • Helps identify students who are prepared to enter college with the research, writing, and collaboration skills necessary for successful college completion
  • Provides consistent, externally validated measures of student ability
  • Demonstrates student research and writing abilities through a 5,000-word scholarly research paper

Combining Scholarly Practice with Academic Intensity

AP Capstone was developed in response to feedback from higher education. The two AP Capstone courses, with their associated performance tasks, assessments, and application of research methodology, complement the rigor of AP courses and exams by equipping students with the power to analyze and evaluate information with accuracy and precision in order to craft and communicate evidence-based arguments.
  • Analyze topics through multiple lenses to construct meaning or 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
Building Skills Identified by Leading Educational Organizations
AP Capstone has collaborated with colleges and universities to define its content and standards. It utilizes frameworks and learning objectives uniquely aligned with core AP skills and practices and other skills-based learning objectives as identified by:
  • Advanced Placement® Program, Skills and Practices
  • The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), The Essential learning Outcomes, College Learning for the New Global Century
  • The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), A Framework for 21st Century Learning
  • Common Core State Standards Initiative, Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6–12
  • Council of Writing Program Administrators, Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing
  • The Association of College & Research Libraries, Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education

Fostering Excellence through Professional Development

Professional development is required for all AP Seminar and AP Research instructors. Teachers must complete a five-day face-to-face curricular training prior to the first year of teaching the course (summer). In addition, teachers must complete an assessment scoring training during the first year of teaching each course (winter). College Board may require teachers to complete additional training when necessary to ensure high quality delivery of the curriculum and/or assessment scoring.

Download an AP Capstone Student Brochure

AP Seminar

In this foundational course, typically taken in grade 10 or 11, students develop and strengthen analytic and inquiry skills, exploring two to four relevant issues chosen by the student and/or teacher. Students learn to consider an issue from multiple perspectives, evaluate the strength of an argument, and make logical, fact-based decisions. Students will question, research, explore, pose solutions, develop arguments, collaborate, and communicate using various media.

Themes and Topics

Themes that allow for deep exploration based on student interests, local and/or civic issues, global or international topics, and concepts from other AP courses are typically selected. For example, students might explore the question of whether national security is more important than a citizen’s right to privacy; or whether genetic engineering is a benefit to society.


During the course, students complete a team project, an individual paper and presentation, and take a written final exam. The AP Seminar Exam score is based on all three components and is reported on the standard 1–5 AP scoring scale.

AP Research

AP Seminar is a prerequisite for AP Seminar
The second course in the AP Capstone experience allows students to design, plan, and conduct a year-long research-based investigation on a topic of individual interest. Through this inquiry and investigation, students demonstrate the ability to apply scholarly understanding to real-world problems and issues.
Students further the skills developed in AP Seminar by understanding research methodology, employing ethical research practices, and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information to build, present, and defend an argument. Students may choose to
  • Dig deeper into a topic studied in an AP course
  • Work across academic areas with an interdisciplinary topic
  • Study a new area of interest, perhaps one for further study at the college level


At the end of the research investigation, students submit an academic thesis paper of about 5,000, present their thesis, and orally defend their work. The AP Research Exam score is based on the paper, presentation, and defense, and is reported on the standard 1–5 AP scoring scale.


Submit your application for the AP Capstone Program by filling out the form available here.
(Portions of this page courtesy of the AP Capstone website)