The IB Diploma Programme is designed as an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations that prepare students, normally aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. The programme is taught over two years and has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities. Since the late 1960s, the programme has:

  • provided a package of education that balances subject breadth and depth, and considers the nature of knowledge across disciplines through the unique theory of knowledge course
  • encouraged international-mindedness in IB students, starting with a foundation in their own language and culture
  • developed a positive attitude to learning that prepares students for university education
  • gained a reputation for its rigorous external assessment with published global standards, making this a qualification welcomed by
    universities worldwide
  • emphasized the development of the whole student – physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically.

The Curriculum: Diploma Programme

Diploma Programme candidates are required to study six subjects and a programme core. One subject is chosen from each of groups 1 to 5 and the sixth subject from group 6 or, alternatively, the student can elect to study a second subject from groups 1 to 4, further mathematics HL from group 5 or an IB approved school based syllabus. The core of the Diploma Programme consists of the theory of knowledge (TOK), the extended essay (EE) and creativity, action, service (CAS). Theory of knowledge provides a forum for discussion, reflection and instruction that considers the nature of human knowledge and supports the development of interdisciplinary understanding. The extended essay provides the opportunity to investigate an academic research question of individual interest and in the process to develop the independent research and writing skills expected for further education. Participation in the school’s CAS programme broadens the educational experience by expecting students to be involved in creative, physical and service activities. 50pecialization is provided by requiring at least three

[and not more than four] of the six subjects to be studied at higher level (HL), breadth is provided by studying three subjects [two if four HL subjects are taken] at standard level.

IB Subject Groupings
Group 1: studies in language and literature
Language A: Literature An introductory course in literary analysis.
Language A: Language and Literature An introductory course in textual analysis, based on non-literary and literary genres.
Literature and Performance An interdisciplinary course that explores the relationship between literature and theatre.


Group 2: language acquisition

Language B A language-learning course for candidates with previous experience of the language.
Language Ab Initio A language-learning course for beginners.
Classical Languages A course in Latin or Classical Greek language, literature and culture for candidates with previous experience of the language.



Group 3: Individuals and Societies

Business Management Economics Environmental Systems and SocietiesHistory

Information technology in a global society Philosophy


Social and cultural anthropology

World religions

These are courses designed to “encourage the systematic and critical study of: human experience and behavior; physical, economic, and social environments; the history and development of social and cultural institutions.”Source:



Group 4: Experimental Sciences



Computer Science Design technology Environmental systems and societies


Sports exercise and health science (SL only)

“Through studying biology, chemistry or physics, students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, it is the emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that characterizes these subjects.”Source:



Group 5: Mathematics

Mathematical Studies SL Mathematics HLMathematics SL

Further Mathematics HL

A math course developed for students with “varied mathematical backgrounds and abilities.” The focus is on “applications of mathematics, and the largest section is on statistical techniques.A course designed for students with “good background in mathematics who are competent in a range of analytical and technical skills. Most students who take this course has Math as a major component of their university studies such as physics, engineering, and technology.

This is a mathematics course that is designed to meet the needs of students with competency in a range of analytical and technical skills. This will also provide good preparation for university studies in chemistry, economics, psychology, and business administration.

This is taught at the higher level only and designed for those students with very strong background in mathematics.


Group 6: The Arts

Dance FilmMusic Theatre Visual Arts

Environmental Systems and societies SL (interdisciplinary between groups 3 and 4)

OR as an alternative to group 6 students may take an additional subject from groups 2, 3, or 4 in its place, or complete further Mathematics HL

The courses in Group 6, the arts, aim “to enable students to enjoy lifelong engagement with the arts; become informed, reflective and critical practitioners in the arts; understand the dynamic and changing nature of the arts; explore and value the diversity of the arts across time, place, and cultures; express ideas with confidence and competence; and develop perceptual and analytical skills.”Source:


Grading and results

A candidate’s examination performance in individual subjects is graded 1 (lowest grade) to 7 (highest grade). Theory of knowledge and the extended essay are graded from E (lowest grade) to A (highest grade). If an “N” appears in place of a grade, no grade has been awarded.

The Diploma Programme candidate’s six subjects can yield 42 points. Three further points are available for the combination of the extended essay and work in TOK. Therefore, the maximum possible score is 45 points. The award of the diploma requires candidates to score at least 24 points as well as meet other standards and conditions including the completion of a suitable CAS programme. Approximately 80% of candidates are awarded the diploma and the IB has maintained consistent standards, with no grade inflation, over the 40 years of its existence.

A bilingual diploma is awarded to a candidate who fulfils one or both of the following criteria:

  • completion of two languages selected from group 1 with the award of a grade 3 or higher in both
  • completion of one of the subjects from group 3 or group 4 in a language that is not the same as the candidate’s nominated group 1 language. The candidate must attain a grade 3 or higher in both the group 1 language and the subject from group 3 or 4.

IB Course candidates

A candidate who has elected to design their own programme of study and/or take less than six subjects or who does not satisfy the requirements of the full Diploma Programme is awarded a Diploma Programme Course Results document for the subjects they have completed. Diploma candidates who complete more than six subjects receive a Diploma Programme Course Results document for any additional subject[s].

Authorization and recognition

Only schools officially authorized by the IB may offer the Diploma Programme and register candidates for an IB examination session. There are over 2,450 IB World Schools offering the Diploma Programme in more than 140 countries.

The IB has shown that students are well prepared for university work and the Diploma Programme has earned a reputation for rigorous assessment, giving IB diploma holders access to the world’s leading universities. These include institutions such as Cambridge, Harvard, Heidelberg, McGill, MIT, Oxford, Princeton, Rotterdam Erasmus, Sorbonne, UBC and Yale.

Universities requiring additional information are invited to consult the IB web site for universities [] or contact the nearest regional office.

Contact details for all IB offices can be found on the IB public website”