The Diploma Programme: preparing students for success in higher education and to be active participants in a global society
What is the IB Diploma Programme (DP)?
The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations that prepares students, aged 16 to 19, for success at university and in life beyond. It has been designed to address the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of students. The programme has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.
DP students must choose one course from each of five subject groups delivering a breadth of knowledge and understanding in their best language, additional language(s), individuals and societies, the sciences and mathematics. Furthermore, students must also choose either an arts course from the arts group or a second course from one of the other subject groups.
DP courses can be taken at higher level or standard level. At least three and not more than four are taken at higher level (240 teaching hours), while the remaining courses are taken at standard level (150 teaching hours).
In addition to disciplinary and interdisciplinary study, the DP features three core elements that broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills.
The Diploma Programme Core
The extended essay asks students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the DP subjects they are studying. The world studies extended essay option allows students to focus on a topic of global significance which they examine through the lens of at least two DP subjects.
Theory of knowledge (TOK) develops a coherent approach to learning that unifies the academic disciplines. In this course on critical thinking, students inquire into the nature of knowing and deepen their understanding of knowledge as a human construction.
Creativity, activity, service (CAS) emphasizes helping students to develop their own identities, in accordance with the ethical principles embodied in the IB mission statement and the IB learner profile. CAS complements a challenging academic programme in a holistic way, providing opportunities for self-determination, collaboration, accomplishment and enjoyment. It involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies throughout the DP. The three strands of CAS are creativity (exploring and extending ideas leading to an original or interpretive product or performance), activity (physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle) and service (collaborative and reciprocal engagement with the community in response to an authentic need).
Students take written examinations at the end of the programme which are marked by external IB examiners. Besides that, students also complete assessment tasks in the school which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners.
The marks awarded for each course range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest). Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results on theory of knowledge and the extended essay. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance across the whole programme and to satisfactory participation in the creativity, activity, service requirement. The highest total that a DP student can be awarded is 45 points.
Assessment is criterion-related, which means student performance is measured against specified assessment criteria based on the aims and objectives of each subject’s curriculum, rather than the performance of other students taking the same examinations. The range of scores that students have attained remains statistically stable, and universities value the rigour and consistency of Diploma Programme assessment practice.