AP Capstone May Replace Senior Thesis


Semaj Fielding presents her thesis.

Due to a lack of state approval, the one-of-a-kind Magnet thesis class and Theory of Knowledge may not be offered to rising juniors. These classes were approved on the County level years ago, but apparently never officially approved by the State Dept of Education.  AMHS definitely did its part in the approval process, but a breakdown apparently happened at the county level. Despite having been offered as courses for over twenty-five years, the state is now questioning their legitimacy. In an effort to continue the independent study experience, AP Capstone may be implemented at Magnet. The other option is to apply yearly for experimental course status for our TOK and Thesis classes which may or may not be approved.

What is AP Capstone?

Comprised of AP Seminar and AP Research, AP Capstone is a two year program that provides a curriculum for independent study and research skills. During the first year, students would take AP seminar to develop research and presentation skills to be used in their collaborative project, independent essay, and final examination. Building upon inquiry skills fostered by AP Seminar, AP Research centers around an independent study project with an oral defense (a senior thesis). If students score a three or above on the AP exams and complete four other AP courses, then students will receive an AP Capstone Diploma. It is worth noting that students currently do not receive any official recognition for the completion of thesis.

What makes it different from Thesis?

The class offered junior year is the AP Seminar class. Appearing to be less structured and more attached to thesis itself, Theory of Knowledge first semester teaches students how to research and helps them find a topic that they will work on second semester and then independently until presentation. With AP Capstone, students are educated about research in a more intensive and general process over an entire year rather than a semester. The thesis itself is developed senior year with AP Research and presented closer to graduation instead of before winter break. Student’s GPA’s may also receive a boost since the course would be weighted as an AP rather than an honors class. Senior Thesis teacher Mrs. Benton is optimistic about the program, stating: 

“I don’t think the transition to AP Capstone would be as much of a shift as some people fear””

— Mrs. Benton

Who could this affect?

Current juniors will continue with the current Thesis process. Sophomores and freshmen would be taking the AP Capstone classes their junior and senior years as a requirement for graduation.

How will this affect schedules?

Since AP Capstone is two courses instead of one, there would be one less elective available for senior year scheduling.

Pending final confirmation, AP Capstone would ideally serve as an independent study opportunity or a senior thesis with a new and defined structure.

For more information, here is a link to the College Board’s webpage for AP Capstone:https://advancesinap.collegeboard.org/ap-capstone