May 29, 2021

AP Capstone Seminar & Research Diploma Program | Amerigo EDU

For international students who seek to earn admission to top US universities, Advanced Placement (AP) courses and Capstone Seminar and Research diploma programs are nothing new. Many universities, especially the most competitive Ivy League schools, almost never indicate in the admission requirements that students need to take AP courses in high school. But if you look at their accepted students’ data, you will see most of these students took at least 4 to 5 AP courses during their high school years. The number of AP courses, their relevance to the major the student is applying to, and scores of AP exams will be assessed by university admission officers to measure whether a candidate is academically qualified for their schools. This year, as the SAT/ACT scores are optional in many universities’ admission requirements, choosing the right AP courses and getting good results will greatly benefit international students.

Today we will discuss in detail about what AP course are, how they contribute to international students’ universities applications, and introduce the newly launched AP Capstone Diploma Program at our Amerigo Los Angeles school, Bishop Montgomery High School. After successfully completing the program, students will receive an AP Capstone Diploma and and AP Research and Seminar Certificate, which will give them a competitive edge when applying to top US universities.

What are Advanced Placement courses?

AP Capstone Seminar & Research Diploma Program - Amerigo Education

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are college-level courses managed by College Board in the United States, which students can take in high school. When students finish an AP course, they will need to take an AP exam.

Schools must be authorized by the AP Course Audit to offer approved AP courses and use the AP designation. There are 38 total AP courses in seven subject categories. Each AP course is modeled on a comparable introductory college course. At the end of the class, students will take the AP exam in May each year. AP exams are scored in a range of 1 to 5, and most U.S. colleges and universities will accept scores of 3-5 to offer college credits. There are some very selective universities that have stricter rules to offer credit, but students can confirm with the university admissions officer before applying.

Who should take AP courses?

Students should be prepared and willing to challenge themselves academically when they decide to take AP courses. Furthermore, students need to complete certain prerequisites to enroll in different AP courses. Lastly, students should be very focused and and know how to arrange their study time appropriately to earn a good result in these classes..

The AP courses are demanding, but taking AP courses and exams will help students:

  1. Stand out on college applications.

  2. Earn college credit and/or skip introductory courses in college

High schools usually provide AP classes in the following 6 subject categories:

  • Arts

  • English

  • History and Social Sciences

  • Math and Computer Science

  • Sciences

  • World Languages and Cultures

In recent years, College Board offered the 7th category: the AP Capstone Diploma program to equip students with the independent research, collaborative teamwork, and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges. Students who want to enter top tier US universities should start to plan for which AP courses to take by scheduling meetings with the school counselors at the beginning of the school year.

Introduction to AP Capstone Program

AP Capstone Seminar & Research Diploma Program - Amerigo Education

AP Capstone is a diploma program based on two yearlong AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. Students usually take AP Seminar in grade 10 or 11, and then take the AP Research in the following year. AP Seminar is the prerequisite for AP Research.

  • Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research will receive the AP Seminar Certificate and AP Research Certificate.

  • Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing will receive the AP Capstone Diploma.

  • Instead of teaching specific subject knowledge, AP Seminar and AP Research use an interdisciplinary approach to develop the critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills students need for college-level work. 


Over the two-year program, students will complete independently research on various topics, complete team projects, write academic papers and conduct presentations. To successfully complete the program, students are required to:

  • 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.

Why should international students take AP Capstone?

AP Capstone uses the following pedagogical foundation, called the QUEST framework, to develop and practice the students’ critical and creative thinking skills as they make connections between various issues and their own lives.

AP Capstone candidates will:

  • Stand out on college applications and essays, because students can demonstrate critical thinking, communication and research skills

  • Excel in college interviews, because the students demonstrate solid professional knowledge and show their confidence, passion and expertise

  • Impress college admission officers, because they know that AP Capstone students are proficient in building evidence-based arguments, guiding teamwork, applying research methods, deliver professional presentations, and complete long-term academic projects

“AP Capstone helps students develop key skills that they will use over and over in college: conducting research and communicating their results.”
— Mr. Stu Schmill, Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Students who earn these awards can view and print their diploma or certificate online. The AP Capstone Diploma and AP Seminar and Research Certificate are reported to colleges and universities as AP Scholar Awards and appear in Scholar Roster reports.

Where can international students study an AP Capstone program?

Due to the unique format of the AP Capstone course, not many high schools in the United States have the qualifications to offer this program. At the same time, all teachers who teach AP seminars and AP research courses must participate in the teaching training certified by the College Board before the first year of school.


Bishop Montgomery High School in Los Angeles, California, recently started the AP Capstone Program under the leadership of Mr. John Hong. The program is a two-year diploma program and is open to international students. Students who successfully complete the program can earn the AP Capstone awards, which are valued by colleges across the United States and around the world.