Home Education Children's Education Study abroad: The International Baccalaureate Diploma
Last update on January 20, 2020

The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB program) is recognized as an international pre-university education preparing students for study abroad.

The International Baccalaureate Diploma prepares students for a globally competitive age, in an environment surrounded by international schools. Graduates of an IB programme will increase their chances to study abroad in a country and university of their choice.

Entrance to top universities is incredibly competitive; more and more countries can afford to send their youth abroad for a university degree. This means that students need to prepare well in advance to attend university. In some countries, students start early by learning a foreign language from kindergarten age. Achieving fluency in the language will ensure entrance to a foreign university.

As well as developing their academic ability, students who wish to study should consider developing soft skills; these include leadership, organisation, self-management, community-mindedness, and communication. All of these skills are core elements of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma qualification.

IB Diploma

The International Baccalaureate, founded in 1968, is an international education programme which is available to a worldwide community of schools. The IB Organisation offers three programs for students aged three to 19 years: the Primary Years Program, the Middle Years Program and the Diploma. Each program places emphasis on developing the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills necessary to live, learn, and work in a globalizing world.

Because of its international nature, expat families favor the IB program. Across the world today, there are approximately 752,000 students at 2,732 schools in 138 countries following the IB Diploma program.

IB program for students of 16–19 years

The Diploma Program is for students of 16 to 19 years. It’s a demanding two-year curriculum leading to a valuable educational qualification.

The IB Diploma focuses on inquiry. That means it encourages students to ask challenging questions, develop a strong sense of their own identity and culture, and develop the ability to communicate with and understand people from other countries and cultures.

The combination of qualities developed by the IB Diploma, including self-management and creativity, explains why the IB Diploma is considered a solid preparation for university-style learning. Over 60% of admissions officers in the UK claim that the IB develops self-management skills more effectively than educational programs.

The IB program in schools

Schools teach the IB program either in English, French, or Spanish. Students can study six subjects selected from subject groups: three at standard level and three at a higher level. This must include a second language, maths and science.

There are also three additional core requirements: extended essay – a 4,000-word essay on a topic of the students choice; theory of knowledge – a course exploring the nature of knowledge across disciplines, encouraging an appreciation of other cultural perspectives; creativity, action, and service – a course that requires students to complete 150 hours of work outside purely academic learning. It can include artistic pursuits, sports and community service work.

IB Diploma’s popularity in Europe

The qualification has recently come to the forefront of the education agenda in the UK. It’s also increasingly recognized by the world’s universities including those found in Europe.

Forty-six IB World Schools offer the IB Diploma in Spain. The IB is equivalent to the Spanish high-school qualification

Eleven schools offer the IB Diploma in France. Since 1985, the qualification has been one of the foreign diplomas that allow students access to French universities.

35 schools offer the IB Diploma in Germany. However, there are certain conditions placed on IB Diploma students to allow them access to German universities, including a minimum requirement for a foreign language, math, and science.

Five schools offer the IB Diploma in Belgium. The qualification is equivalent to the Flemish Secondary School leaving certificate since 1973.  This allows IB students access to higher education in Belgium without restriction.

The Netherlands
Fourteen schools offer the IB Diploma in the Netherlands. However, there are minimum entry requirements for IB students wishing to attend Dutch universities.

Twenty-seven schools offer the IB Diploma in Switzerland and many universities there accept the qualification, although impose minimum entry requirements.

United Kingdom
190 schools offer the IB Diploma in the UK.  However, as UK universities are autonomous, they set minimum entry requirements for IB Diploma and A-level students.

In an internationally mobile world, the International Baccalaureate Diploma is a passport to achieving a globally competitive education. In addition to an international curriculum, the IB gives students a genuinely international outlook, an understanding and appreciation of different cultures, and a sense of being a good global citizen. All of this prepares them for future study and employment all around the world.

For more information about the International Baccalaureate Diploma and to find an international school please visit: www.ibo.org.