Earning an IB Diploma
How it works
There are two types of IB courses, Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL). Students pursuing the IB Diploma, or diploma candidates, take six courses during their junior and seniors years, one from each of the six IB subject groups. Most IB courses are taught over two years, and at least three classes must be HL in order for a student to earn the IB Diploma. Students also take a course called Theory of Knowledge; this class provides opportunities for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge and is central to the philosophy of the Diploma Program. In addition to their coursework, students complete CAS hours and an Extended Essay.
Students may also choose to take individual IB courses without pursuing the full IB Diploma; these students are called certificate candidates.
|1 – Studies in Language and Literature ||English HL|
|2 – Language Acquisition||Spanish SL/HL/Ab Initio SL; Chinese Ab Initio SL|
|3 – Individuals and Societies||History HL|
|4 – Sciences ||Biology HL; Chemistry SL|
|5 – Mathematics||Math SL; Math Studies SL|
|6 – The Arts||Music SL; Visual Arts SL|
|* Theory of Knowledge|| |
All IB courses count as weighted honors credit; weighted credit adds points towards class rank and can improve GPA.
Theory of Knowledge
The TOK course is central to the educational philosophy of the International Baccalaureate program. TOK challenges students and their teachers to reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and areas of knowledge. The TOK curriculum is composed almost entirely of questions. The most central of these is “How do I, or how do we, know that a given assertion is true, or a given judgment is well grounded?”
CAS stands for creativity, activity, and service. To complete this requirement, students document time spent pursuing activities outside of the classroom that enhance their personal and interpersonal development.
The Extended Essay
The Extended Essay is an in-depth research paper on a topic chosen from one of the six subjects that a student is studying. Students begin this paper during their junior year and complete it about half way through their senior year.
Earning the IB Diploma
To earn a diploma, students need to complete an Extended Essay, the components of the Theory of Knowledge class, the requirements of CAS, and earn a cumulative score of at least 24 marks in their courses. The diagram below represents this visually:
Each course is worth from 1 to 7 marks, with the final mark for each based on the completion of internal components such as essays and projects, and on external examinations taken by students near the end of the program. The Extended Essay and the internal components of the Theory of Knowledge course can add up to 3 additional marks.
The list below summarizes the requirements to complete the IB Diploma Program. A diploma is earned if
- the student has taken six IB courses and
- at least three of the IB courses are HL and
- the student has taken Theory of Knowledge
- the student has a cumulative score of at least 24 and
- the student has completed the Extended Essay and
- the student has satisfied the requirements of CAS.
Registration with the IB
Prospective IB students take honors-level courses during 9th and 10th grade in preparation for the rigor of the IB program. During the second semester of their sophomore year and under the guidance of the IB Coordinator, they then request their 11th grade courses and join the IB Diploma Program.
IB students must officially register with the International Baccalaureate during October of the year in which they want to test; for most students, this is done in October of their senior year in order to test in May.