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Advanced-placement, or AP, courses allow high school students to delve more deeply into a subject. In the case of AP in art history, students get to spend a year studying the history of art from the beginning of civilization to the present. However, that’s not the only benefit they get from studying art history at the advanced level while in high school. They can also get college credit.

What AP Art History Covers

The AP art history course spans centuries of art history. It covers not only the art of Europe but also of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceana and beyond. According to the syllabus for the class, which the College Board posted on its website, the course goes back to 30,000 BCE and continues through the present day. Each class period in the AP art history course lasts 45 minutes, and the class meets five days a week.

University Course Equivalents

According to College Board, taking and AP art history in high school is equivalent to taking a two-semester university-level art history survey course. Many times, courses like these will have titles, like Survey of Western Art or Survey of Eastern Art. Survey of Western Art typically covers European art, while the Survey of Eastern art covers the art of Japan, China and other Asian countries.

In some respects, however, the topics covered in the high school AP course may be a bit broader than its college equivalent. Often Survey of Western Art is split into two classes and won’t always cover the art of the Americas, Asia, Africa or Oceana: It only covers Europe. There are some exceptions, of course, as many survey courses that cover European art will also cover Egyptian art according to ARTSTOR. This is technically African art, though not the only art that Africa produces.

Skills Developed

An AP art history class teaches students several important skills. Naturally, it gives students a broad overview of history through the lens of art. This class also allows students to compare works of art. This could entail comparing subject matter across cultures, art styles and genres or the development of similar art movements in history. (For example, did Impressionism develop in the US at the same time that it did in France, and if so, how is it the same or different?) These students additionally learn about visual and contextual analysis, historical interpretation and artistic traditions. Cultural awareness develops from this course also.

While these skills help the art historian, they’re also generally helpful on the job and in life. As art historian Amy Herman discovered, the observational skills she learned as an art historian has become useful to law enforcement, first responders and other critical workers, according to an article on the Smithsonian website. Herman teaches a class that uses art history to teach these professionals how to develop observational and communication skills. These are skills that allow them to do their jobs better and more thoroughly.

Other Benefits

Taking advanced-placement classes do more for students than just providing them with an in-depth look at a subject, though that’s extremely important, too. Students can earn college credit for taking these courses. By doing so, these students can save a significant amount of money on college costs.

There’s a couple of ways this can happen. Students who have taken AP classes can take placement tests before they enroll in college. The knowledge they’ve gained in an AP art history class (and other AP classes) will help them test out of lower-level university core classes. According to an article on the US News and World Report, one student took some placement exams and tested out of nearly a year’s worth of college classes in the process. This saved the student around $40,000.

Other students take advantage of dual-enrollment agreements that some high schools have with the local university. AP and other university-level classes play a big role in this curriculum. Taking advantage of an agreement like this will save the student up to two years of college work. There is often a small fee associated with taking these AP classes. However, the cost of the classes is far less than the cost of the same class at the local university.

Related Resource: What Can I Do With An Art History Degree?

Taking an AP art history class offers high school students a great deal. They gain foundational knowledge in art history, as well as observational, cultural and life skills. Finally, taking these classes can save money once college rolls around. Students can use the knowledge they learn in AP classes to test out of their coursework. They can also participate in dual-enrollment classes, like AP Art History, to earn college credit before they graduate from high school.