What exactly is the IB Program?

By admin November 4, 2016 BS/MD Admissions Consulting International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is an internationally-recognized diploma. It is authorized and issued by the non-profit Geneva-based International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), which was established in 1968 with the mission to enable students develop an international mindset and prepare them for participation in an increasingly global society. The IB diploma is recognized by many colleges; use this link for more information.

What is the IB Program?What is the IB Program?

Where do you pursue an IB diploma?

Almost 4000 schools across 148 countries offer the IB program. Its global nature is a big draw to parents seeking to prepare their children for global education and labor market. When you enroll at an IB-approved school, you’ll need to take classes in six subject groups :

Language and literature

Language acquisition

Individuals and societies




The IBO designs the curriculum and tests for the six subject groups. You must take courses from all six groups and complete a core course comprising of one additional class. If your child enrolls at an international school offering the IB program, he/she will be required to take six subjects – three at the standard level (SL) and three at the higher level (HL) that must include English, Science and Mathematics – and at least one foreign language.

Assessment and scoring

The IB program has a 1 – 7 grade scale, with 1 being the lowest and 7 being the highest score. The final Diploma score includes the combined scores for each subject. Students who get at least 24 points and meet the requirements of the core course are eligible for the diploma.

Getting credit for an IB diploma

Most colleges award credit to students armed with an IB diploma. Note that select colleges give credit only for IB classes taken at a higher level or only for top scores. In this regard, students who pursue this program may be at a lesser advantage than those who opt for Advanced Placement (AP) programs, who get credit in many more subjects. This brings us to a comparison between IB and AP programs.

IB vs AP

Administered by the College Board, the AP program offers over 30 courses across multiple subject areas. AP tests have a 1-5 scoring scale.

While the focus of IB is largely on writing, AP follows a more thesis-like approach. There are lesser multiple choice questions than AP tests and a greater emphasis on essay writing. IB programs are, therefore, considered more holistic and well-rounded.

IB programs are more expensive than AP classes. It also costs school districts a lot more to participate in IB than AP programs. The testing costs, registration fee, curriculum development and teacher training costs are all higher.