Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School Announces New AP Capstone Diploma Program | Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School


Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School Announces New AP Capstone Diploma Program

SJND student reading.

With a growing emphasis on “soft skills,” such as communication and problem solving, in the professional world, Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School (SJND) continues to evaluate and expand its curriculum to better prepare its students for college and successful careers.

As a result, SJND is proud to announce that it is one of approximately 1,800 schools worldwide to implement the AP Capstone Diploma program―an innovative program that allows students to develop the skills that matter most for college success, such as research, collaboration, and communication. The program consists of two courses taken in sequence: AP Seminar and AP Research.

In AP Seminar, students choose and evaluate complex topics through multiple lenses; identify credibility and bias in sources; and develop arguments in support of a recommendation. AP Seminar is a project-based learning course. Official AP Seminar assessments include research reports, written arguments, and presentations.

In the subsequent AP Research course, students design, execute, present, and defend a yearlong research-based investigation on a topic of their own choosing. They learn how to understand research methodology; employ ethical research practices; and collect, analyze, and synthesize information. Like AP Seminar, AP Research is a project-based course. A student’s AP Research score is based on their academic paper, presentation, and oral defense.

Examples of past AP Research topics include environmental injustice in subsidized housing, the effects of sleep deprivation on academic achievement in teens, and the effect of popular opinion on the implementation of Supreme Court decisions.

SJND will begin offering AP Seminar in conjunction with AP Environmental Science in Fall 2019, with plans to offer AP Research the following year, Fall 2020. The administration hopes to offer both courses as standalone classes in 2020 or shortly thereafter. Both courses will initially be available to students in the 11th and 12th grades.

“The AP Capstone courses are the perfect addition to our already rigorous college preparatory program. AP Seminar and AP Research will provide our students with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills that will prepare them for college and beyond,” said Jessica Park, Assistant Principal of Academics at SJND. “With AP Environmental Science (APES) as the anchor course, students in APES will engage with the course content through the inquiry-based framework of AP Seminar. They will develop their research and communication skills while strengthening their reasoning and writing skills," she added.

Students who receive a passing score in AP Seminar and AP Research have the opportunity to earn the Seminar and Research Certificate. Students who receive passing scores in these courses as well as on four additional AP Exams of their choosing have the opportunity to earn the AP Capstone Diploma. This signifies outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills.

“We’re proud to offer AP Capstone, which enables students and teachers to focus on topics of their choice in great depth,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president for AP and instruction at the College Board. He adds, “This provides terrific opportunities for students to develop the ability to write and present their work effectively, individually and in groups—the very skills college professors want their students to possess.”

In partnership with the higher education community, the College Board developed AP Capstone so students can practice skills that serve them well in college and career. Colleges and universities have voiced their support for the program.

“We are excited more schools are offering the AP Capstone Diploma program,” said Kedra Ishop, vice provost for enrollment management at the University of Michigan. “We believe the research, collaboration, and presentation skills taught in the two courses will be valuable to students throughout their academic and professional careers.”

Questions about SJND’s AP Capstone Diploma Program may be directed to Mrs. Jessica Park at, 510-995-9459.