How Many College Credits is AP World History Worth?

Eric Martin's picture

I have recently been asked to provide input concerning my insitution's AP World History Exam policy. In short, how many credits should students receive and for what kind of score?

A score of three on the exam seems to be the standard, but I see no consensus as to whether or not the course should count for 3 or 6 credits. I have run across at least one instituion that offers vairible credit, dependant upon the exam score. 

In these days of higher ed policies designed for both retention and making our insitution more attractive to a greater number of  students, I am sure that my instituion would love to be able to say something along the lines of  "We will give you 6 credits for your AP course, many others will only give you 3." But is scoring a 3 on the AP World History Exam worth two semesters of college credit?

Thanks in advance for your input, 




Categories: Teaching

Hi Eric, in Colorado below is my summary of the current proposed set of credits for AP World History by college/university acceptance. As you can see we are all over the place and things don't make sense. For instance a student might earn a 3 for an AP course in high school but get a 20th century history credit and part I credit at another institution etc. Further and I think more relevant for what you might be looking for, students with a 3 AP World History score should apply for credit at a Colorado CC as they will get 6 credits while only 3 credits at most of the public 4 years. It gets even more bizarre at single institutions. At the U. of Colorado at Colorado Springs if you earn a 3 you get 3 credits, a 4 gets you 6, but a 5 gets you only 3.
I would note the US HIstory AP exam is much better organized in the state in terms of credit and does not show as many discrepancies like those noted above as does the AP World History for the state.

This is to be debated further at the 2:2 and I assume the 2:4 professor meetings for the state but it is driven by political decisions from far above us on the ground floor as you note with the emphasis now on recruitment, remediation, retention, and completion. We have to be careful of course to "not throw out the baby with the bathwater."

AP WH SCORE Institution type Credits awarded (in 1:1 lecture units)
3 2 yr 6
4 yr 3
4 2 yr 6
4 yr 3- 6
5 2 yr 6
4 yr 3-6

source: Colorado AP Exam Credit and Cut Scores 3-21-2016. Colorado Department of Higher Education, Colorado Commission on Higher Education, Dept. of Higher Education pdf.
I can send this file which also contains other AP scores and credits such as those for PSYCH or BIO if needed or requested.

Institutions in British Columbia, Canada, are similarly divided on the number of credits but there is consistent agreement that a score of 4 or higher is required to receive transfer credit. Three of our major research universities give three credits of first year History, but two of our teaching universities give 6 credits. You can see the transfer credits at:

The US Air Force Academy awards 3 credits for a 4 or 5 (no credit for a 3), but we have it easy in that we offer a one-semester world history survey, for which they get credit. Perhaps our model for for the AP US and European courses might be of value. Cadets get 3 credits for either, but need to come in for a personal interview with a faculty member to determine for which course they get credit. The interview is also an opportunity to compliment the cadet on their past success in history, and to suggest that they might be successful in the future if they majored in history or a related discipline.

Director of Development, Senior Military Faculty, and Associate Professor of History
Comm 719-333-6399
DSN 333-6399

I'd like to thank those of you who took the time to respond to my inquiry concerning the amount of college credit AP World History ought to be worth. It has been enlightening to me to see how much variation there is.

thanks again,