What is the IB Diploma Programme?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is a rigorous two-year pre-university curriculum, primarily aimed at students aged 16 to 19. It leads to a qualification that is widely recognized by the world’s leading universities and many award advanced standing or university credit for successfully completed IB diplomas and courses. Students learn more than a collection of facts. The Diploma Programme prepares students for university and encourages them to:

  • Ask challenging questions
  • Learn how to learn
  • Develop a strong sense of their own identity and culture
  • Develop the ability to communicate with and understand people from other countries and cultures

(IBO, 2005)

The IB Diploma program requires students in the 11th and 12th grade to select a broad range of academic subject areas in addition to developing skills in writing research papers through the Extended Essay, thinking skills through the Theory of Knowledge course and all subject areas, and life skills and community service through the CAS core element. It is these elements that define the IB programme and the Diploma students.  The IB Diploma is awarded independently of the ISB High School diploma. Students will graduate from ISB with their ISB High School diploma and receive their IB results in July and their official IB Diploma or IB Certificate (listing IB courses studied) in September.

IB Program Entry Requirements for 11th Grade Students

ISB feels that the program should include as many students as can benefit from it and that students have the right to attempt IB courses. As a guideline, the following considerations should be made. Therefore, ISB offers the following entry guidelines:

  • A ‘B’ (3.0) average is recommended. 80% of ISB students have this average or above.
  • An overall ‘C’ (2.0) average is the minimum required to enter and continue in the IB Diploma program. 95% of ISB student have this average or above. Student performance is reviewed and support given when necessary.
  • Competency in the language of instruction (English).
  • Completion of the prerequisites for individual IB courses.
  • Evidence of a high level of motivation.
  • Approval of teachers, department heads, guidance counselors, and the Dean of Academics, as appropriate.

The IB Diploma Student

The two year Diploma provides students with a breadth and depth of rigorous academic study which prepares them for the demands of university. Generally, students would choose to study their special interest subjects at Higher Level. Standard Level subjects complement the Higher Level choices, but may not require the same degree of specialized knowledge and understanding. In addition to the six academic subjects, Diploma students also take a Theory of Knowledge course, complete an Extended Essay and the required involvement in Creativity, Action and Service (CAS).

IB Course student (non-Diploma)

Students not pursuing the IB Diploma but keen to take one or more IB exams, may take any IB course, including all core IB components (Theory of Knowledge (ToK), Extended Essay & CAS). The IB courses cover the relevant IB curriculum which includes the final IB exam. All non-Diploma students in IB courses are required to register as an IB Course candidate for the exams. Non-registration will be reflected on the student’s transcript to avoid confusion during the university application process.

IB Diploma/Course Examinations

Students who commence the second year of an IB Course are expected to complete the IB course including all internal and external assessment requirements.  External assessment typically means the IB examinations which are taken during May of each year.  There are additional costs that families need to pay for students to be registered for their IB examinations.  These IBO fees will be invoiced to families during September of their final year in IB Course as final course registration prior to 15th November each year.

Things to Know About a General IB Diploma

Important notes when planning for the IB Diploma:

  • 3 Higher level subjects, 3 standard level subjects and ToK scheduled.
  • Extended Essay and CAS completed outside classtime.
  • 6 instructional classes per semester.

General IB Diploma

Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12 IB Group
English 9 English 10 English A:
Language & Literature HL 1
English A:
Language & Literature HL 2
French II French III French B SL 1 French B SL 2 2
World Studies 9 World Studies 10 Psychology HL 1 Psychology HL 2 3
Chemistry/Biology I Science 10 (Chemistry II/Biology II/Physics I) Biology HL 1 Biology HL 2 4
Integrated Math I Standard (Algebra I) Algebra 2/TRIG Math SL 1 Math SL 2 5
Fine Art (1 sem.) Studio Art (1 sem.) Photography(1 sem.) Visual Arts SL 1 Visual Arts SL 2 6
Freshman Seminar (1st sem.) ToK (2nd sem.) ToK (1st sem.) mandatory
PE 9 Team Sports/Health Fitness I (1 sem.)

The plans below are provided for general guidance. It is essential that all 10th  grade students meet with their counselor and if further clarification is required the Dean of Academics.

IB Diploma Plan with Science Bias (Two Group 4)

Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12 IB Group
English 9 English 10 English A:
Language & Literature HL 1
English A:
Language & Literature HL 2
French I French II Spanish ab initio SL 1 Spanish ab initio SL 2 2
World Studies 9 World Studies 10 Economics SL 1 Economics SL 2 3
Chemistry/Biology I Science 10 (Biology I/Chemistry II/Physics II) Physics HL 1 Physics HL 2 4
Chemistry HL 1 Chemistry HL 2 4
Integrated Math I Higher (Accl.Geometry) A.Algebra 2/TRIG Math HL 1 Math HL 2 5
Exploring Drama (1 sem.)

Studio Art(1 sem.)

Les Chanteuses (1 sem.) No Group 6 (Arts)
Freshman Seminar (1st sem.) ToK (2nd sem.) ToK (1st sem.) IB Core
PE 9 Team Sports/Health
This student did not have the prerequisite language level for French B SL and so with no previous experience in Spanish, enrolled in Spanish ab initio. Students with no previous language may choose French, Mandarin or Spanish ab initio for their IB Group 2.

IB Diploma Plan with Social Studies Bias (Two Group 3) + Bilingual Diploma (New Language Options)

Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12 IB Group
English 9 English 10 English A:
Language & Literature HL 1
English A:
Language & Literature HL 2

Japanese Native I

Japanese Native II

Japanese A: Lang Literature HL I

Japanese A: Lang Literature HL 2

World Studies 9 World Studies 10

Psychology HL 1

Economics HL 1

Psychology HL 2 

Economics HL 2

Chemistry/Biology I

Science 10 (Biology II/Chemistry II/Physics II)

Biology SL 1

Biology SL 2


Integrated Math I Standard (Accl.Geometry)

A.Algebra 2/TRIG

Math HL 1

Math HL 2


PE 9

Lifetime Physical


Sports for Life (1 sem.)

Intermediate Band

Jazz Band

Jazz Band

No Group 6 (Arts)

Freshman Seminar (1st sem.)

ToK (2nd sem.)

ToK (1st sem.)

IB Core

This student chose to continue with Jazz Band in Grade 11 and defer the completion of their PE credit to the 12th grade.

Additional Note for IB Diploma students:
The Extended Essay is completed out of class time starting in 11th grade and completed in the first half of 12th grade semester 1.

CAS requirements are completed over the course of the two year program.

What to Expect in IB

A student participating in IB courses as a Diploma or Course candidate can expect to:

  • Be motivated and work hard
  • Approach tasks with a sense of purpose
  • Demonstrate self-discipline and responsibility
  • Develop sound time management and organizational skills
  • Learn from fellow students as well as teachers
  • Seek assistance when necessary to develop self-advocacy
  • Share with, and contribute to, the community

IB students should expect to be educated, amused, excited, delighted, and at times, disappointed and exasperated.

The IB Diploma or IB Courses are a realistic goal for all ISB students.

Award of the IB Diploma

Each of the six IB subjects is graded on a point scale of 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum). In addition, the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge may contribute up to 3 bonus points, making a maximum score of 45 points.

6 subjects x 7 points (max.) + 3 bonus points = 45 points

Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge are graded on a letter scale of A (excellent) to E (elementary). Two E grades for these core areas will exclude the student from receiving the IB diploma.

From the May 2015 session the following failing conditions will apply for the IB Diploma:

  1. Be motivated and work hard
  2. Candidate’s total points are fewer than 24
  3. An N has been given for theory of knowledge, extended essay or for a contributing subject.
  4. A grade E has been awarded for one or both of theory of knowledge and the extended essay.
  5. There is a grade 1 awarded in a subject/level.
  6. Grade 2 has been awarded three or more times (HL or SL).
  7. Grade 3 or below has been awarded four or more times (HL or SL).
  8. Candidate has gained fewer than 12 points on HL subjects (for candidates who register for four HL subjects, the three highest grades count).
  9. Candidate has gained fewer than 9 points on SL subjects (candidates who register for two SL subjects must gain at least 5 points at SL).

Recognition of the IB

The International Baccalaureate Office in Geneva and the sub-regional offices have spent many years negotiating recognition agreements with national governments and universities. This has ensured that the IB Diploma is recognized as a universal qualification for entry to higher education.

To access comprehensive information about the recognition of the IB Diploma in universities globally please use this link.

Also the vast majority of universities will have specific admissions pages that relate to students applying with an IB Diploma or IB Courses. The range of credit, scholarships and other benefits awarded to IB Diploma and Course students is broad and changes from year to year. Students and their families are encouraged to check with institutional websites for the most current information.


There are a number of points to consider about IB and university applications:

  • Diploma and Course students must carefully research the recognition policies for the IB Diploma and individual course results in terms of credit, advanced standing and scholarships
  • Students list their IB courses and/or provide a transcript for verification of academic standards to date
  • Many colleges request predicted or forecast grades for IB exams, TOK and Extended Essay scores as part of their application process
  • Recommendations will clearly state the known candidate status of the student – IB Diploma or IB Course (after registration only)
  • Diploma students can indicate they have chosen the most rigorous academic program at ISB
  • Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay and experiences in the Creativity, Action and Service program often provide valuable material or reflections for college essays