AP U.S. History (Sem 1)

Enrollment Message:

ATTENTION: Due to rigor and testing requirements in a year-long course, we recommend that a student be enrolled in Sem 2 at the time of their Sem 1 enrollment. Enrolling early increases likelihood of staying with the same instructor all year, promoting student success. Sem 2 enrollment may be dropped as late as January. This course has REQUIRED due dates. All Sem 2 due dates in AP courses occur prior to the College Board’s national AP exam date. The pacing ensures completion of all required lessons and assessments prior to the AP Exam. Official AP Course and Exam Descriptions are located on the AP Central website. Michigan Virtual prepares students for the AP exam but does not offer the AP exam. It is the responsibility of the school or parent to register for a local administration of the AP exam. AP courses often require students purchase a College Board approved textbook. Please refer to the Additional Costs section of the syllabus to locate any required textbooks or materials.

Advanced Placement U.S. History I is a college-level introductory course which examines the nation’s political, diplomatic, intellectual, cultural, social, and economic history from 1491 to 1877. Students are challenged to see American history through a variety of historical themes while developing thinking skills that will help them contextualize specific periods of American history. A college level textbook is supplemented by primary and secondary sources throughout this course. This course does not include the AP exam; students can contact their school’s AP coordinator or guidance counselor to sign up for the exam. In order to maintain the integrity of AP standards, all AP course midterm and final exams must be proctored. Prerequisites: None

Course Objectives: Explain how various identities, cultures, and values have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities. Explain how these sub-identities have interacted with each other and with larger conceptions of American national identity.

  • Examine ways that different economic and labor systems, technological innovations, and government policies have shaped American society.
  • Explore the lives of working people and the relationships among social classes, racial and ethnic groups, and men and women, including the availability of land and labor, national and international economic developments, and the role of government support and regulation.
  • Examine migration across borders and long distances, including the slave trade and internal migration, and how both newcomers and indigenous inhabitants transformed North America.
  • Explore the ideas, beliefs, traditions, technologies, religions, and gender roles that migrants/immigrants and annexed peoples brought with them, and the impact these factors had on both these peoples and on U.S. society.
  • Examine ongoing debates over the role of the state in society and its potential as an active agent for change. This includes mechanisms for creating, implementing, or limiting participation in the political process and the resulting social effects, as well as the changing relationships among the branches of the federal government and among national, state, and local governments.
  • Trace efforts to define or gain access to individual rights and citizenship and survey the evolutions of tensions between liberty and authority in different periods of U.S. history.
  • Examine how various world actors (such as people, states, organizations, and companies) have competed for the territory and resources of the North American continent, influencing the development of both American and world societies and economies.
  • Investigate how American foreign policies and military actions have affected the rest of the world as well as social issues within the U.S. itself.
  • Examine the role of environment, geography, and climate in both constraining and shaping human actions.
  • Analyze the interaction between the environment and Americans in their efforts to survive and thrive. Explore efforts to interpret, preserve, manage, or exploit natural and man-made environments, as well as the historical contexts within which interactions with the environment have taken place.
  • Explore the roles that ideas, beliefs, social mores, and creative expression have played in shaping the United States.
  • Examine the development of aesthetic, moral, religious, scientific, and philosophical principles, and consider how these principles have affected individual and group actions.
  • Analyze the interactions between beliefs and communities, economic values, and political movements, including attempts to change American society to align it with specific ideals.

Course Outline:

Unit 1: 1491 – 1607 Geography and environment; Native American diversity in the Americas; Spain in the Americas; conflict, exchange;and adaptation.

Unit 2: 1607 - 1754 Growing trade; unfree labor; political differences across the colonies; conflict with Native Americans; immigration; early cities; role of women, education, religion and culture; and growing tensions with the British.

Unit 3: 1754 - 1800 Colonial society before the war for independence; colonial rivalries; the Seven Years War; pirates and other democrats; role of women before, during, and after 1776; Articles and a Constitution; and early political rights and exclusions.

Unit 4: 1800 - 1848 Politics in the early republic, parties and votes; reforms and social movements; culture and religion; market capitalism and slavery; growth of immigration and cities; women and Seneca Falls; and Territorial expansion and Mexican War.

Unit 5: 1844 - 1877 Tensions over slavery; reform movements; politics and the economy; cultural trends; Transcendentalism and Utopianism; the Civil War, rights of freedmen and women, Reconstruction, and freedmen’s bureau; and the KKK. Focus on white supremacy before and after the Civil War.

Resources Included: All resources are included within the course lessons, except the textbook.

Additional Costs: Students are responsible for acquiring the required textbook: Brinkley, Alan. American History Connecting with the Past, 15th Edition. Mcgraw Hill, 2017. Hardcover: ISBN-13: 9780076738304 Online Student Edition: ISBN-13 : 9780079032737. Note: In addition to purchasing a textbook, students can sign up for a free online account for the following supplemental resource: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Sign up at: https://www.gilderlehrman.org/community/user/register.

Scoring System: Michigan Virtual does not assign letter grades, grant credit for courses, nor issue transcripts or diplomas. A final score reported as a percentage of total points earned will be sent to students upon completion of a course. Your school mentor is also able to access this score within the Student Learning Portal. Schools may use this score for conversion to their own letter grading system.

Time Commitment: Semester sessions are 18-weeks long: Students must be able to spend 1 or more hours per day in the course to be successful. Summer sessions are 10 weeks long: Students must be able to spend a minimum of 2 or more hours per day, or about 90 hours during the summer, for the student to be successful in any course. Trimester sessions are 12-weeks long: Students must be able to spend 1.5 or more hours per day in the course to be successful.

Technology Requirements: Students will require a computer device with headphones, a microphone, webcam, up-to-date Chrome Web Browser, and access to YouTube.

Please review the Michigan Virtual Technology Requirements: https://michiganvirtual.org/about/support/knowledge-base/technical-requirements/ 

Instructor Support System: For technical issues within your course, contact the Customer Care Center by email at [email protected] or by phone at (888) 889-2840.

Instructor Contact Expectations: Students can use email or the private message system within the Student Learning Portal to access highly qualified teachers when they need instructor assistance. Students will also receive feedback on their work inside the learning management system. The Instructor Info area of their course may describe additional communication options.

Academic Support Available: In addition to access to a highly qualified, Michigan certified teacher, students have access to academic videos and outside resources verified by Michigan Virtual. For technical issues within the course, students can contact the Michigan Virtual Customer Care by email at [email protected] or by phone at (888) 889-2840.

Required Assessment: Online assessments consist of formative and summative assessments represented by computer-graded multiple choice, instructor-graded writing assignments including hands-on projects, model building and other forms of authentic assessments.

Technical Skills Needed: Basic technology skills necessary to locate and share information and files as well as interact with others in a Learning Management System (LMS), include the ability to:

  • Download, edit, save, convert, and upload files
  • Download and install software
  • Use a messaging service similar to email
  • Communicate with others in online discussion or message boards, following basic rules of netiquette
  • Open attachments shared in messages
  • Create, save, and submit files in commonly used word processing program formats and as a PDF
  • Edit file share settings in cloud-based applications, such as Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides
  • Save a file as a .pdf
  • Copy and paste and format text using your mouse, keyboard, or an html editor’s toolbar menu
  • Insert images or links into a file or html editor
  • Search for information within a document using Ctrl+F or Command+F keyboard shortcuts
  • Work in multiple browser windows and tabs simultaneously
  • Activate a microphone or webcam on your device, and record and upload or link audio and/or video files
  • Use presentation and graphics programs
  • Follow an online pacing guide or calendar of due dates
  • Use spell-check, citation editors, and tools commonly provided in word processing tool menus
  • Create and maintain usernames and passwords

Additional Information: The official course descriptions for Advanced Placement courses and information about their exams are located on the College Board site at a http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/courses/descriptions/index.html

Michigan Virtual prepares students in AP courses for the AP exam, but does not offer the exam test itself.  It is the responsibility of the school or parent to register for a local administration of the AP exam.  

There are required due dates in AP courses. The pacing of due dates in AP courses aligns to the completion of all lessons and required assignments and assessments prior to the national AP exam date related to this course title. The calendar of AP exam dates is published by the College Board (Exam Calendar).


School Level: High School
Standards: College Board: AP Course Topics and Objectives
NCAA Approved: Yes
Alignment Document: Document
Course Location:
NCES Code: 04104
MDE Endorsement Code: CC - History
MMC Minimum Requirements: Soc Stud - US Hist/Geog

When Offered: _Internal Use Only

Content Provider: Michigan Virtual
Instructor Provider: Michigan Virtual

Course Type: Advanced Placement