The IB Diploma Programme
The Diploma Programme: preparing students for success in higher education and life in a global society.
What is the Diploma Programme?
The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations that prepares students, aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. It has been designed to address the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of students. The programme, has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.
The Diploma Programme prepares students for effective participation in a rapidly evolving and increasingly global society as they:
- develop physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically
- acquire breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding, studying courses from 6 subject groups
- develop the skills and a positive attitude toward learning that will prepare them for higher education
- study at least two languages and increase understanding of cultures, including their own
- make connections across traditional academic disciplines and explore the nature of knowledge through the programme’s unique theory of knowledge course
- undertake in-depth research into an area of interest through the lens of one or more academic disciplines in the extended essay
- enhance their personal and interpersonal development through creativity, action and service
The Diploma Programme core
- The extended essay asks students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the DP subjects they are studying. The world studies extended essay option allows students to focus on a topic of global significance which they examine through the lens of at least two DP subjects.
- Theory of knowledge develops a coherent approach to learning that unifies the academic disciplines. In this course on critical thinking, students inquire into the nature of knowing and deepen their understanding of knowledge as a human construction.
- Creativity, action, service (CAS) involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies throughout the Diploma Programme. Creativity encourages students to engage in the arts and creative thinking. Action seeks to develop a healthy lifestyle through physical activity. Service with the community offers a vehicle for a new learning with academic value. The three strands of CAS enhance students’ personal and interpersonal development through experiential learning and enable journeys of self-discovery.
IB Diploma Programme students must choose one subject from each of five groups (1 to 5), ensuring breadth of knowledge and understanding in their best language, additional language(s), the social sciences, the experimental sciences and mathematics. Student may choose either an arts subject from group 6, or a second subject from groups 1 to 5.
Students take written examinations at the end of the programme, which are marked by external IB examiners. Students also complete assessment tasks in the school, which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners.
The marks awarded for each course range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest). Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results on theory of knowledge and the extended essay. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance across the whole programme and to satisfactory participation in the creativity, action, service requirement. The highest total that a Diploma Programme student can be awarded is 45 points.
Assessment is criterion-related, which means student performance is measured against pre-specified assessment criteria based on the aims and objectives of each subject curriculum, rather than the performance of other students taking the same examinations. The range of scores that students have attained remains statistically stable, and universities value the rigour and consistency of Diploma Programme assessment practice.
Quality assurance and professional development
Any school, or group of schools, wishing to offer one or more International Baccalaureate programmes as an IB World School must first be authorized. The requirements are the same for all schools, and the procedure is designed to ensure that schools are well prepared to implement the programme(s) successfully. All IB World Schools are required to participate in an ongoing process of review and development, using the same programme standards and practices.
As part of its ongoing commitment to the development of a highly skilled global learning community, the IB provides a wide range of high-quality professional development opportunities to help new, experienced and expert school leaders and educators understand, support, and successfully deliver IB programmes reflecting IB standards and practices.
Find out more
Become an IB World School
To take the first steps in becoming an IB World School authorized to offer the Diploma Programme, please read the information on the Become an IB World School page.
Diploma Programme courses online
Online courses are currently available in English to students at IB World Schools that offer the Diploma Programme. Diploma Programme courses online
IB Open World Schools pilot
Students not currently attending an IB Word School will now have the opportunity to take Diploma Programme courses online through the Open World Schools pilot.
IB promotional publications are available, both to view online and to download. Visit the promotional publications page for more.
External examinations for candidates for the IB diploma are given twice a year, in May and in November.
The IB diploma is a passport to higher education. Find out about university recognition and the Diploma Programme.
Special educational needs
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) has made a commitment to the growing field of special educational needs (SEN)
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