The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum sets out the requirements for study of the DP.
The curriculum is made up of the DP core and six subject groups.
Made up of the three required components, the DP core aims to broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills.
The three core elements are:
- Theory of knowledge, in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
- The extended essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
- Creativity, activity, service, in which students complete a project related to those three concepts.
The six subject groups are:
- Studies in language and literature
- Language acquisition
- Individuals and societies
- The arts
There are different courses within each subject group.
Choosing subjects in the Diploma Programme
Students choose courses from the following subject groups: studies in language and literature; language acquisition; individuals and societies; sciences; mathematics; and the arts.
Students may opt to study an additional sciences, individuals and societies, or languages course, instead of a course in the arts.
Students will take some subjects at higher level (HL) and some at standard level (SL). HL and SL courses differ in scope but are measured according to the same grade descriptors, with students expected to demonstrate a greater body of knowledge, understanding and skills at higher level.
Each student takes at least three (but not more than four) subjects at higher level, and the remaining at standard level.
Standard level subjects take up 150 teaching hours. Higher level comprises 240 teaching hours.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DP
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.
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.
CAS is an experiential learning component of the DP. Students complete a wide variety of extracurricular, community service and athletic options to fulfill this requirement.
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
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.
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.
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.
The IB is committed to making 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 curriculum 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.
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.
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).
DP prepared students for college? A 2012 study by the Consortium for Chicago School Research 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 at www.ibo.org/research
• Visit the IB website at www.ibo.org
• Attend school meetings and events
• Speak with your school’s DP coordinator
• Speak with your child’s DP classroom teacher