Introducing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

Member University in Focus: University of Sierra Leone
November 18, 2015
Member University in Focus: Mekelle University, Ethiopia
November 26, 2015
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Introducing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

IBDPThis piece highlights useful information on the  International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for Admission Officers, Registrars and Deans who might encounter students wishing to enrol in their universities with it.

About the Programme

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) is an academically balanced two-year programme with final examinations which prepares students aged 16 to 19 years for success at university and in life beyond. Being an international programme, it has gained recognition from the world’s leading universities.

The DP programme encourages students to develop a sense on inquiry, open-mindedness, intercultural understanding, and positive attitudes which prepares them for higher education and life-long learning.

 The Curriculum

DP students choose one course from six subject groups, ensuring they receive a well-rounded education. Each subject group offers a range of courses for students to choose from according to their academic interests. Students also study at least two languages as part of promoting their understanding and appreciation of other cultures. Throughout the DP, students explore globally significant topics and examine relevant issues. Students study three courses at standard level and three at higher level to complete the programme.

The DP includes a compulsory core comprised of three components:

  • A Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course which makes connections across traditional academic disciplines and explores the nature of knowledge, examining how we know what we claim to know.
  • The Extended Essay engages students in independent research through an in-depth study of a subject/topic of their interest. It further provides practical preparation for undergraduate research and develops students’ research, writing and communication skills.
  • Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic study. Cultivating creativity encourages students to engage in the arts, develop creative thinking and problem solving skills; action seeks to promote a healthy lifestyle through physical activity; and service is an unpaid and voluntary exchange with the local community that brings many learning benefits for students, including self-determination, collaboration, a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment from their work.

At the end of the programme, students take written examinations which are marked by external IB examiners. Additionally, students also complete assessment tasks in their school, which are usually either marked internally by their teachers and then moderated by external IB moderators, or sometimes evaluated directly by external IB examiners. The assessment process in the DP is highly acclaimed and distinguished.

Reach and growth of the IB Diploma Programme

DP students represent a broad range of nationalities from schools in over 140 countries. Hosting a highly diverse range of experiences and perspectives combined with an emphasis on international-mindedness and academic preparation, the DP provides students with an outstanding educational programme that develops a unique set of skills, attitudes and outlooks required to succeed in university and life in the 21st century. Since its introduction in 1968, more than 1.2 million students have participated in the DP. The number of DP schools throughout the world has increased by more than 40% from 2008 to 2014. Currently, over half of IB World Schools authorised to offer the DP are state-funded institutions.

DP and Higher education

DP students apply to more than 3,300 higher education institutions each year, in over 90 countries. DP students’ most popular institutions of choice are ranked among the top universities in the world.

Universities and HEI – partners with the IB

The IB makes a concerted effort to work directly with universities to supply the information and support needed to effectively develop policies for recognising the achievements of DP students.


To develop a recognition policy or to find out more about the IB in Africa, contact Adzo Ashie, the Recognition and Development Manager, Africa at


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