The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is offered by over 481 IB World Schools and studied by 19,736 students across the Asia Pacific region. Established in 1968, the programme is recognised by leading universities across the world. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering an IB school.
What does the programme involve?
DP students study six subjects, alongside the DP core (the extended essay (EE), theory of knowledge course (TOK) and a creativity, activity, service (CAS) project).
To make up the six subjects, DP students choose one subject from each of the five groups: studies in language and literature; individuals and societies; mathematics; sciences; and language acquisition, and must also choose either an arts subject or another from the five groups.
Additional subjects to typical 16+ courses mean that DP students have more contact time with their teachers than their non-IB peers. One great advantage of IB students having a fuller timetable is that the DP puts added emphasis on developing positive learning habits, knowledge about how to work more efficiently, and techniques to help them manage their own learning outside of the classroom.
Who can study the DP?
The DP works well for learners with a range of abilities and learning styles. DP students have the opportunity to select three of their strongest subjects to study at higher level, alongside the remaining three at standard level. This allows students to discover their academic passions before having to restrict their future opportunities by reducing their breadth of study.
Additionally, the extra contact time with teachers is beneficial to students who work better with more guidance. Each school also has a dedicated IB programme coordinator, who is responsible for ensuring that each student’s programme has the right balance, and each student’s experience is closely monitored to make sure the full benefit of the programme is being felt.
The core element of the DP provides students with an opportunity to experience a different type of achievement; many students credit their CAS experience as being the most rewarding of their school careers.
How much depth of learning does the programme allow?
Usually the three higher level subjects that DP students undertake will be interrelated as they will be areas the student wishes to study further. The depth of study is considerable, and the style of examination questions students will face at the end of the two years, means students have a great deal to assimilate.
The DP is designed to ensure curriculum coherence across both higher level and standard level subjects. In an increasingly globalised environment, the fact that all DP students will study a foreign language, a science and mathematics to the age of 18 places them at a huge advantage as they enter Higher Education and the workplace.
Which universities recognise the IB?
All universities hold the IB in high esteem and accept many DP applicants. Leading universities appreciate the fact that the DP results allow them to discriminate between the highest achievers and that, unlike other qualifications, there has been no grade inflation for over the last 20 years.
Evidence shows that DP students go on to tertiary study at higher rates than their non-IB peers, and are admitted more often to selective institutions, as well as performing better in their post-secondary studies, including higher rates of post-secondary completion (HESA 2016).
Compared with other curricula studying the DP better prepares students for university by enabling them to keep their options open, studying a wider range of subjects at a higher level.
Importantly, the DP also encourages independent learning, curiosity, effective time management and presentation techniques – all essential life skills that are highly valued by university admissions teams, as they allow students to ‘hit the ground running’ when they begin their undergraduate studies.
Can you apply to specialist courses at universities with the DP?
DP students regularly secure places to read specialist courses such as medicine, mathematics and engineering at universities around the world. For degrees like medicine that require students to have studied specific subjects, universities set out their specific requirements for students to meet in order to be considered for a place.
The DPs broader offering is a clear benefit for students who aren’t sure what they want to study at university. However, it also provides advantage for those who have resolved to pursue a particular path and for any number of reasons have a change of heart; due to the broad nature of the programme, students can choose a different pathway/subject to read at university during their sixth form studies.
Do other curriculums make it easier to go on to university?
Most universities see the DP as comparable to other options such as HSC’s and does not favour one over the other. Thousands of top universities around the world have published policies on the recognition of the Diploma Programme, including 274 universities in India, 12 in China, 71 in Australia, 21 in Singapore. For students looking to study internationally there are also 172 universities in UK which officially recognise the DP and 1,662 in the USA.