The Diploma Programme (DP) is a curriculum framework designed by the International Baccalaureate (IB) for students in the last two years of high school.
IB students graduating with the IB diploma are able to study at universities all around the world, often with advanced credit. Students report that their involvement with the IB has given them the tools needed to succeed at college. In particular, students comment on their sense of preparedness, self-confidence, research skills and their ability to manage their time. Even more important, they have developed a sense of the world around them and their responsibility to it.
Diploma Programme students study six subjects (three at standard level and three at higher level) over two years and complete three additional requirements: the theory of knowledge (TOK), the extended essay and at least 150 hours of CAS—creativity, activity and service tasks outside of the classroom. In addition to these requirements, students must earn a minimum of 24 points out of a possible 45 points on the final assessments which are externally marked and moderated by the IB, in order to receive an IB diploma.
Theory of knowledge (TOK)
TOK is an interdisciplinary course designed to help students question and understand how they know what they know. Students study how individuals from various disciplines view the world in order to develop their own ways of thinking. By stimulating analysis of knowledge across disciplines, TOK seeks to help students make sense of school and the world.
Creativity, activity, service (CAS)
CAS is an experiential learning component of the DP. Students complete a wide variety of extracurricular, community service and athletic options to fulfil this requirement.
The extended essay introduces students to the demands and rewards of independent work. Emphasis is placed on doing personal research and communicating ideas effectively in order to write a 4,000-word essay in an area of personal interest.
How do colleges and universities view the Diploma Programme?
The DP is internationally recognized as representing one of the highest standards in university preparatory education. More than 1,000 colleges and universities in North America have recognition policies on how they weigh it in admissions, advanced standing, college credit and scholarships.
A list of colleges and universities that grant credit, scholarships and/or advanced standing for DP diplomas and certificates is available at www.ibo.org.
What kind of student is a good candidate for the DP?
The DP is a rigorous course of study for motivated students. That said, prior academic success is less an indicator of ability to earn the diploma than are a student’s determination to do his or her best, willingness to be organized in order to complete the work while leading a full, balanced life, and a strong commitment to learning in and beyond the classroom.
Do DP students have time for anything beyond academics?
Absolutely. Most successful Diploma Programme students lead very full lives. They are often members of athletic teams and involved in a wide range of activities. Time management and organization are key skills the IB develops in students.
Are IB programmes considered “gifted” programmes?
The IB does not control how schools designate their Diploma Programme. In some instances, schools choose to designate the programme as selective enrolment via application or as a magnet programme. In other cases, the programme is open to any student.
Do DP teachers receive special training?
All DP teachers receive professional development in the IB’s approaches to teaching and approaches to learning from certified IB workshop leaders. This is a requirement for IB World Schools implementing the DP.
Does implementing an IB programme mean my child’s school will not teach local or national standards such as the Common Core?
The IB is committed to mkaing sure that students in IB programmes meet and exceed local or national standards. With the implementation of any IB programme, schools are required to examine their cuiriculum carefully to ensure that there is alignment with local, state or national standards. More information on the IB and the Common Core is available at www.ibo.org.
What’s the difference between the diploma and certificates?
Not all students choose to take the full course load leading to a diploma. Instead, some take a few DP courses in areas where they have a particular interest or strength, similar to honours and Advanced Placement classes. Certificates are awarded on a course-by-course basis to students who choose not to do the full programme. Students who satisfactorily complete a DP course earn a certificate and may be eligible for university credit.
How does the IB DP differ from other university-preparatory programs such as Advanced Placement and Cambridge?
The IB DP is a two-year comprehensive curriculum with a culminating set of externally graded final exams. IB, Advanced Placement (AP) and other college-preparatory curriculums like Cambridge are all university preparatory, academically rigorous programmes. There are important differences, however, in the content and exams. The DP is a cohesive and comprehensive programme, not a collection of individual courses as is the case with Advanced Placement. The most important distinguishing factor is the core of the Diploma Programme (CAS, TOK and extended essay).
Can you give a specific example of how the DP prepared students for college?
A 2012 study by the Consortium for Chicago School Re- search found that Diploma Programme students who graduated from 12 Chicago public schools were more likely to attend college, attend a selective college and persist in college for 2 years than a matched comparison group. Additional studies on programme impact are available here.
How can I learn more about the IB and DP?
• Visit the IB website.
• Attend school meetings and eventspeak with your school’s DP coordinator
• Speak with your child’s DP classroom teachers.