AP Computer Science Principles

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Launching in fall 2016, AP Computer Science Principles introduces students to the foundational concepts of the field and challenges them to explore how computing and technology impact the world. Colleges and universities can expect to start seeing student applications with AP Computer Science Principles starting in the fall of 2016. The first AP Computer Science Principles Exam administration will take place in May 2017.

To date, over 100 colleges and universities have stated their support for the course, with the majority anticipating they will award college credit for high exam scores. Students will begin considering AP CSP this spring. In order to attract these highly qualified students for your discipline and majors, consider developing a strong credit and placement policy. Your credit and placement policy will ensure that your institution can attract students who are uniquely focused on creative problem solving and real-world applications.

Submit your college's policy for AP Computer Science Principles

About the Course

AP Computer Science Principles focuses on the innovative aspects of computing as well as the computational thinking practices that help students make connections to their everyday lives. It offers a multidisciplinary approach to teaching the underlying principles of computation, including:

  • Develop creative programming skills
  • Use abstractions and algorithms
  • Work with large data sets
  • Learn important features of the Internet and issues of cybersecurity
  • Understand the impacts of computing on different populations

AP Computer Science Principles also gives students the opportunity to use current technologies to create computational artifacts for both self-expression and problem solving. Together, these aspects of the course make up a rigorous and rich curriculum that aims to broaden participation in computer science.

This course is designed to open a pathway for students to continue studies in college-level STEM and other computing courses, positioning them for success in a wide variety of disciplines and industries. Learn more by reading the course and exam description.


The AP Computer Science Principles assessment consists of two parts:

  • The through-course assessment is a set of performance tasks that will require students to upload digital artifacts and written responses they have developed in the class via a Web-based platform.
  • The end of course AP Exam will be a 120-minute long paper and pencil exam which will include 74 multiple-choice questions presented as either discrete questions or in sets.

Both assessments are reviewed through the AP Reading process, where AP teachers and higher education faculty come together to score the student responses.

Both will measure student achievement of the course learning objectives.

Higher Education Support

Leading computer scientists and educators, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), agreed that a computer science principles course was needed to increase the number of students interested in, and prepared for, success in computer science and other STEM fields. More than 50 leading high school and higher education computer science educators piloted the program at their institutions. The curriculum framework was reviewed by academic leaders from over 100 colleges and universities who overwhelmingly stated that they

  • Believed the course is a college-level computing course (88%).
  • Would award college credit (86%).
  • Would offer a comparable course (70%).

Additionally, faculty from Duke University, Rutgers University, and the University of California at Berkeley has created courses based in part on the learning principles outlined in AP Computer Science Principles curriculum framework.

Expert Input

  • Dan Garcia, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • Christina Gardner-McCune, University of Florida, FL
  • Rich Kick, Newbury Park High School, CA
  • Andy Kuemmel, Madison West High School, WI
  • Deepa Muralidhar, Atlanta Girls’ School, GA
  • Dale Reed, University of Illinois, IL
  • Fran Trees, Rutgers University, NJ