St. Mary’s Ryken is excited to announce that beginning in the 2018-19 school year, our school will participate in the College Board AP Capstone Diploma Program. SMR is one of approximately 1,500 schools worldwide to implement the AP Capstone diploma program.

The AP Capstone program focuses on college-level independent research, collaborative teamwork, and communication and writing skills crucial for college and career success. 

This innovative program allows students to develop 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. AP Capstone complements the in-depth, subject-specific study of other Advanced Placement® courses and exams.

“This innovative program complements the AP courses that SMR currently offers our students, and will help to better prepare them for the expectations in college and beyond,” said Dr. Rick Wood. “Skills such as writing, research, analyzation and presentation skills are critical to college success. AP Research and AP Seminar will both help to strengthen these skills.”

Students who earn scores of 3 or higher on AP Seminar and AP Research assessments and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing will earn the AP Capstone Diploma. This signifies their outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher on both AP Seminar and AP Research assessments only (but not on four additional AP Exams) will earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate.

The AP Seminar course is typically taken in 10th or 11th grade and equips students with the ability to look at academic or real-world issues from multiple perspectives. Through a variety of materials—articles to research studies to foundational and philosophical texts—students tackle complex questions; understand and evaluate opposing viewpoints; interpret and synthesize information; and construct, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments. Teachers have flexibility to cover local, regional, national, and global topics relevant to their students, around themes such as education, innovation, sustainability, and technology. Students are assessed through a team project and presentation, an individual project and presentation, and an end-of-course written exam. By tapping into students’ personal interests, AP Capstone gives students from a wide range of backgrounds an entry point into stimulating coursework.

In the subsequent AP Research course, students design, plan, and conduct a yearlong research-based investigation on a topic of individual interest, documenting their process with a portfolio. Students build on skills developed in the AP Seminar course by learning how to understand research methodology; employ ethical research practices; and collect, analyze, and synthesize information to build, present, and defend an argument. 

“Enabling students and teachers to focus on topics of their choice in such great depth will help to keep students engaged and interested in their team projects and independent research,” said Mr. Brad Chamberlain, Dean of Academics. “These courses provide 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, and the goal we have for all of our graduates.” 

For more information about the program, please contact Dean Chamberlain by email at