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The IB Diploma

The IBDP is a two-year academic program that is open to students age 16-19 (grades 11 and 12 in the US). Upon successfully completing the program and all its requirements, students can earn the IB diploma, which is a significant credential for college applications and other purposes. 


Academically, the IBDP requires students to take courses and pass exams in six specific subject areas. Three or four of these subjects must be taken at the more challenging “Higher” level, while the rest can be taken at the “Standard” level.  The IB recommends a minimum of 240 hours of instructional time for HL courses and 150 hours for SL courses.


In addition to this coursework, the IBDP has three more major requirements. First, students must write a lengthy essay based on independent research. Second, students must take a Theory of Knowledge course, which covers critical thinking and epistemology. Third, students must participate and document reflection in range of creativity and service learning activities.


Earning the IB diploma means that you’ve done much more than take a few IB courses. Instead, you’ve undertaken a particular kind of high school education that is meant to teach you not only history, math, and other subjects, but also how to better analyze and understand the information you’ll encounter in school and beyond. 


Along with this stated purpose, an IB diploma can be an asset for you in a number of different ways, especially as you take on the college admissions process. Below, we’ll go over some of the main benefits of working toward and receiving an IB diploma.


The IBDP is well-known throughout the world for the high quality of the coursework it offers. The strength of the IB curriculum, as well as the extensive training that IB teachers and school administrators are required to undergo, help the program to maintain this high standard. 


The respect that the IBDP enjoys means that no matter where you go, colleges will understand and positively view the effort you’ve put into earning your IB diploma. College admissions officers in particular will be familiar with the program’s reputation, making an IB diploma an excellent way of demonstrating your academic prowess. 


Strong performance in school is, of course, an important component of what competitive colleges look for in applicants. This is typically represented in your application by your GPA, transcript, and class rank. However, since every high school is different, colleges can’t always be sure what your grades actually mean compared to those of other applicants. 


Programs like the IBDP help colleges to evaluate applicants by providing a single curriculum that’s used worldwide, allowing admissions officers to more precisely assess your performance. Since this program is known to be rigorous, doing well in your IB courses and earning your IB diploma indicates to colleges that you’re an objectively strong student. 


Earning an IB diploma also shows you’re willing to take on special academic challenges. You’ve chosen to go beyond the typical high school curriculum and pursue a goal that asks more of you, including substantial independent work on topics of your own choosing. This is something that every competitive college values.