What is The AP Capstone Program?

Natalie Thompson
Natalie Thompson

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If you like doing well in school and taking on challenges, then you probably know about the AP program. The College Board, which administers and develops the Advanced Placement (AP) program, has recently developed the AP Capstone program. This program is designed to complement and enhance the AP program.

If you have considered the International Baccalaureate (IB) program but would like to take AP classes for college credit, this program offers preparation for AP classes as well as a diploma upon completion.

Benefits of AP Program

As you may know, students are more likely to go to college if they take AP or honors classes. Because they stimulate research, inquiry, and exploration,AP classes help students to see themselves succeeding at the college level. And colleges and universities know that students who pass with a 3 or higher have greater success in college.

Difficulty of AP Program

The AP program is rigorous. As such, it requires more study and preparation than typical high school classes. And just because you sign up for an AP class does not mean you will do well on the exam at the end of the year. AP coursework, depending on the subject, requires hard work and some aptitude. Your school should have teachers who can prepare students well for the exam.

What Capstone Builds

The Capstone program, that begins with a Seminar class and Research class, encourages students to

  1. Question and explore relevant topics
  2. Understand and analyze arguments
  3. Evaluate multiple perspectives
  4. Synthesize ideas
  5. Communicate clearly and reflect on the experience

Seminar Class

These skills are taught and built in both the seminar and research class. The Seminar class, taken first, has students explore and analyze 2-4 topics throughout the course, both in small groups and individually. This helps them “craft, communicate, and defend evidence based arguments.” Students work with the teacher to select topics they really want to explore and are guided to develop college readiness skills.

Research Class

The Research class, taken second, has students learn how to conduct individual research, write a 5,000 word paper, and present the findings in an oral presentation. Students learn how to conduct research in their chosen field of study, as well as the best methods to research, analyze, and write for that discipline. This helps students learn analytical thinking and writing as well as methods specific to a discipline.


The Capstone program requires students also take 4 AP courses of their choice. Successfully completing the 6 courses earns students college readiness skills, college credit for the AP courses, and a Capstone diploma. Given the high reputation of the AP program, having a Capstone diploma lets colleges know you work hard and can succeed at the college level.

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