International Baccalaureate Program
What is the International Baccalaureate?
By encouraging students to develop intellectually, emotionally and ethically as well as academically, the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) differs from other education frameworks.
Over the last 10 years several qualification bodies and research institutions have compared elements of DP course curriculums and assessments with others courses of study.
Overall findings from the research have been very favourable for the DP.
The Education Policy Improvement Center undertook a four-year project [1.2 MB] to create a set of academic-content standards in eight DP subject areas and determined the degree to which these standards aligned with accepted college-readiness standards.
In 2012, the UK’s Ofqual compared A levels to 19 other curriculums/examinations, including the IB Diploma Programme. The DP material was highly regarded in a number of areas.
In the US, a comparison of four DP standard level (SL) courses (biology, mathematics, language A and world history) and similar Advanced Placement (AP) courses assigned the DP SL courses equal or higher grades than the AP courses.
What has IB research shown so far?
Several studies commissioned by the IB have concluded that, compared to their peers, IB students tend to go to university at higher rates, go to more selective universities, and perform better once there. For example:
- Former DP students in the United States (US) are significantly more likely to attend a ‘selective’ or ‘highly selective’ institution compared to the average US college-goer.
- In the UK, they are more than twice as likely attend a top 20 university than the average A level student.
- Minority and low income IB students from Chicago Public Schools were shown to go on to university at significantly higher rates than a matched control group of their non-IB peers of similar academic ability.
- Feedback collected from a wide range of IB graduates suggests that IB students have an easier time adjusting to university studies.
- Surveys of university and college admissions staff in the US, the European Union (EU) and Australia show that these professionals are both familiar with the programme and hold it in very high esteem compared to other qualifications.
- An analysis of the recognition policies of the top universities in the US reveals that most of these institutions grant credit or advanced standing for high performance in DP courses.
For more detail on these findings, please explore our research.
The Diploma Programme is a comprehensive and balanced two-year curriculum and assessment system that requires students to study six subjects and core components across all disciplines. Within this structured framework, the DP provides a great deal of flexibility, accommodating student interests and abilities. Through careful subject selection, students may tailor their course of studies to meet their needs.
Regardless of the subject selection, all students explore the connections between the six major subject areas, study each subject through an international perspective, reflect critically on aspects of knowledge, pursue one subject in great detail through independent research, and have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills through local and community service.
The assessment of student achievements happens in a variety of ways throughout the course of the two-year programme. It includes the assessment of student work both by external examiners as well as the students’ own teachers. Internal or teacher assessment normally contributes between 20% and 30% of the subject assessment, but can account for as much as 50% in some of the arts courses. The assessment itself undergoes careful review and moderation to ensure that a common standard is applied equally to the work of all students internationally. All students’ work, regardless of which school they attended, are subjects to the same assessment principles.
The IB diploma is widely recognized by colleges and universities around the world as superior preparation for students to succeed at post-secondary institutions.
You can find more information on the Diploma Programme here.
Higher education institutions around the world admit students based on their IB credentials, and many have specific admissions policies and guidelines for IB students. Admissions criteria can vary widely across educational systems and selectivity of the institution.
University policy index
The university policy index [505 KB] includes examples of self-reported policy information provided by universities to the IB. Please check with individual universities prior to college application.
There is a growing body of evidence on how universities value IB credentials, rates of college-going for IB students and types of institutions IB students tend to attend, preparedness for university level study and adjustment to university life. Read a brief introduction to research on postsecondary patterns of IB students.
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