Can AP Courses be Taken Online?

Advance placement courses are essential to improve your chances for admission to selective colleges, but you need to check out online AP courses carefully. The AP curriculum is administered by the College Board, which is the same non-profit organization that administers the SAT. These courses were introduced as a way to challenge highly motivated students with college-level courses while still in high school. The courses demonstrate rigorous academic preparation in which students may earn college credits by earning qualifying grades in end-of-course exams.

Understanding the Vetting Process for AP Courses

All courses that carry the AP designation on student transcripts must pass the AP Course Audit process. This standard is consistent for all courses completed on campus or through online AP course providers. Essentially, course providers or AP administrators submit their materials to the College Board. The materials are reviewed annually following the rigorous standards of the AP Course Audit process. The AP Course Ledger is a listing of all accredited academic institutions that are authorized to use the AP label on their high school transcripts.

What about Online AP Courses?

When signing up for online courses, make sure to consult your school’s AP course administrator to verify that the course you are signing up for complies with the AP Course Audit requirements for the current year. Brick-and-mortar high schools may offer students the opportunity to complete AP courses online along with the traditional lineup of on-campus AP courses. To add online or virtual learning AP courses to the school’s official list of AP offerings for each academic year, the school selects the authorized courses on the AP Course Audit Web site. These courses are added to the school’s profile as AP courses available to students annually in November.

Typically, the school will partner with an established course provider or virtual school. Passing the AP Course Audit process for courses that are designated as AP subjects is the responsibility of the virtual school or course provider.
Certification is renewed annually, and it is the AP administrator’s job to ensure that the third party curriculum provider has complied with AP requirements.

If the selected online course provider does not appear on the AP ledger, you or your school’s course administrator may have to contact the online course provider to verify the AP designation of their offering. It is possible that materials have not been submitted for certification or that materials are under review by the audit committee. In any case, verify before committing your time to an AP course.

Benefits of Taking AP Courses Online

AP classes provide high school students with opportunities to hone their critical-thinking and organizational skills that are crucial for success on the college level. Passing the related AP exams may translate to college credits, which will cut down on the time spent in college or open up opportunities to add a second major to your course load. Studies have shown that AP students outperformed their peers academically even when they were allowed to skip introductory courses due to their AP credits. In states that require high school students to complete at least one online course as a graduation requirement, taking an AP course with a virtual school or online provider will fulfill this stipulation.

AP courses are rigorous, and taking these courses online may add to the rigor if you do not have the motivation and organization required to complete the class requirements. For those who do, online AP courses provide a great opportunity to take the classes following your own schedule and in the low-stress environment of your own room.