In the News

High school students’ interest in humanities outpaces other subjects

Anna Merod
K-12 Dive
Rodin Eckenroth via Getty Images
Rodin Eckenroth via Getty Images

Dive Brief:

  • High school students’ interest in the humanities is outpacing other academic fields, according to new research by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which analyzed course credits and AP data from the U.S. Department of Education and College Board.
  • Students took 2,008,352 AP humanities exams in 2020, while 1,034,255 completed behavioral and social science, 788,149 took natural science, 769,366 took math and computer science, and 79,218 took art, AAA&S found.
  • Humanities made up 43% of all AP exams taken in 2020. The number of AP exams completed in the humanities increased 4.6 times from 1996 to 2017 and then evened out between 2017 and 2019. However, the study noted all AP exam participation declined 7-8% from 2019 to 2020, due to challenges related to the pandemic.

Dive Insight:

While the focus on student participation in the humanities — such as foreign languages, history, English, and civics — typically takes a higher education perspective, this data shows there’s growing interest in these subjects at the K-12 level, said Robert Townsend, director of humanities, arts and culture programs at AAA&S.

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View full story: K-12 Dive



Humanities Indicators

Norman Marshall Bradburn and Robert B. Townsend