A Guide to the International Baccalaureate Program

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a non-profit organization offering holistic and intensive curricula to students aged three to 19. There are many benefits to participating in an IB program: Students in the Primary Years and Middle Years Programmes frequently outperform non-IB students. Additionally, IB Diploma Programme students are more likely to apply and enroll at top colleges and universities. These benefits, coupled with the global worldview and independent thought encouraged through the programs, leave students in a great position for further success.

Want to learn more about IB options? We’ve created a guide to the International Baccalaureate Program, so that you can learn more about the IB’s four programs and how to get involved.

About the Primary Years Programme

The Primary Years Programme was first introduced in 1997 for children aged 3-12. Rather than being academically rigorous for young children, the educational goals of this program are holistic development and to encourage an interest in lifelong learning. The curriculum prepares students to be active learners and participants both in and out of the classroom.

About the Middle Years Programme

In 1994, the IB adopted the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students ages 11-16. Although challenging, the MYP curriculum is intended to be inclusive of all academic abilities and interests. The program forces students to draw practical connections between their studies in class and reality beyond the classroom. MYP is generally a five-year program for students; however, some students may find themselves in an abridged version of the program, consisting of two, three, or four years of study. Students that participate in the Middle Years Programme are well positioned to succeed in the IB Diploma Programme or Career-related Programme.

About the IB Diploma Programme

The most well-known IB program is the Diploma Programme (DP). Students who have previously completed the MYP are prepared to do well in the DP, but the program is designed so that students can succeed, even if  their first IB program is the Diploma Programme. The DP was founded in 1968 and is geared toward high school students aged 16-19. The DP, just like the prior programs, offers a holistic approach to education. High school students in IB courses should expect to complete research, community service, and an extensive essay as part of the program’s core requirements. He or she would then select courses from six core subject areas: studies in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, and the arts. Upon completion of coursework, students take exams that may qualify them to earn college credit, similar to AP courses.

About the Career-related Programme

First offered to IB schools in 2012, the newest IB offering is the Career-related Programme (CP), which is available to students ages 16-19 and aims to prepare students for specific internships, apprenticeships, and careers. It is similar to the Diploma Programme, but differs in requirements and focus. The CP is best suited for students who have a specific career path in mind, as students will participate in a two-year professional program of their choice. CP students will complete a minimum of two Diploma Programme courses, in addition to career-related study and the CP required courses. The CP curriculum ends with written exams to ensure students have met the requirements of the program.

How to get involved in the International Baccalaureate Program

In order for a student to enroll in the IB curriculum, his or her school must be approved to offer IB programs. If you are interested in such a curriculum, ask your advisor if the school provides IB instruction. If so, find out how to sign up. If not, you or your parents can talk with school administrators about seeking authorization to teach one or more of the programs. You can also search for the nearest IB World School through the IB’s website, if your school is unable or unwilling to provide IB curriculum.

IB has a lengthy history and offers many educational choices for students of all ages, with a reputation to match. If you are interested in pursuing an IB Diploma or other program, don’t be shy about asking your school to get involved.

Interested in IB tutoring? Check out our gallery of available IB Extended Essay tutors and IB Theory of Knowledge tutors.