AP Human Geography Expectations

The AP Human Geography Course introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface. Students learn to employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human socioeconomic organization and its environmental consequences. They also learn about the methods and tools geographers use in their research and applications.


To be recommended for AP Human Geography, students must score in the 85-99 percentile in state ACT reading projections (calculated ACT of 26-36). Experience with reading and interpreting data in various forms (e.g., graphs and maps) would also be greatly beneficial. Students entering an AP Human Geography course should be capable of reading and comprehending texts written at the college level. Students should also be able to summarize and evaluate textual information. Likewise, they should be able to read and interpret maps and graphic data. The ability to perform basic mathematical operations is also useful in this course. Students entering an AP Human Geography course should possess fundamental skills in composition and inquiry (research). In both short-answer (i.e., one- paragraph) and multi-paragraph essay formats, they should be able to clearly articulate their summaries, analyses, interpretations, and evaluations of complex information.


AP Human Geography presents high school students with the curricular equivalent of an introductory college-level course in human geography or cultural geography. Content is presented thematically rather than regionally and is organized around the discipline’s main subfields: economic geography, cultural geography, political geography, and urban geography. The approach is spatial and problem oriented.


Case studies are drawn from all world regions, with an emphasis on understanding the world in which we live today. Historical information serves to enrich analysis of the impacts of phenomena such as globalization, colonialism, and human– environment relationships on places, regions, cultural landscapes, and patterns of interaction.

Specific topics with which students engage include the following:

  • Problems of economic development and cultural change.
  • Consequences of population growth, changing fertility rates, and international migration.
  • Impacts of technological innovation on transportation, communication, industrialization, and other aspects of human life.
  • Struggles over political power and control of territory.
  • Conflicts over the demands of ethnic minorities, the role of women in society, and the inequalities between developed and developing economies.
  • Explanations of why location matters to agricultural land use, industrial development, and urban problems.
  • The role of climate change and environmental abuses in shaping the human landscapes on Earth.
  • Development of cultures, languages, and religions

By the end of the course, students should be more geoliterate, more engaged in contemporary global issues, and more multicultural in their viewpoints. They should have developed skills in approaching problems geographically, using maps and geospatial technologies, thinking critically about texts and graphic images, interpreting cultural landscapes, and applying geographic concepts such as scale, region, diffusion, interdependence, and spatial interaction, among others. Students should see geography as a discipline relevant to the world in which they live; as a source of ideas for identifying, clarifying, and solving problems at various scales; and as a key component of building global citizenship and environmental stewardship.

Link to the MJHS AP Human Geography Course Intro and Reading Assignments.