1. Overview of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs

Overview of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs

Published on 10 Apr 2015
General Article

Author: Sebastien Barnard, International Baccalaureate Organization  


The IB programs prepare students to be successful in school and to be active, lifelong learners. The four IB programs emphasize intellectual, personal, emotional and social growth.  


International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs

The IB Primary Years Program (PYP), which is for students aged 3 to 12, covers language, social studies, mathematics, arts, science, physical, social and personal education. By choosing to implement the PYP, schools will develop students’ academic, social and emotional wellbeing, focusing on international-mindedness and strong personal values. The PYP nurtures independent learning skills, encouraging every student to take responsibility for his or her learning. The program incorporates local and global issues into the curriculum, asking students to look at six related, transdisciplinary themes and to consider the links between them. The themes include “who we are”, “where we are in place and time” and “how the world works”.



 International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs

The IB Middle Years Program (MYP) is for students aged 11 to 16 who study eight subject areas: their mother tongue, a second language, humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education and technology. The MYP aims to develop active learners and internationally minded young people who can empathize with others and pursue lives of purpose and meaning. The program empowers students to inquire into a wide range of issues and ideas of significance locally, nationally and globally. The result is young people who are creative, critical and reflective thinkers. Students who complete the MYP are well-prepared to undertake the IB Diploma Program (DP) or Career-related Program (CP).




International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs

The IB Diploma Program (DP) is for students aged 16 to 19. Students choose courses from the following subject groups: studies in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics and the arts. Students may opt to study additional sciences, individuals and societies, or languages course, instead of a course in the arts. Each student takes at least three (but not more than four) subjects at higher level, and the remaining at standard level.

In addition to these subjects, all students complete three core requirements that are included to challenge and to broaden the educational experience.

  • Theory of knowledge, in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
  • The extended essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
  • Creativity, action, service, in which students complete a project related to those three concepts.



The IB Career-related Program (CP) is designed for students aged 16-19.The CP is a framework of international education that incorporates the values of the IB into a unique program addressing the needs of students engaged in career-related education. The program leads to further/higher education, apprenticeships or employment. CP students undertake a minimum of two IB Diploma Program (DP) courses, a core consisting of four components and a career-related study. For CP students, DP courses provide the theoretical underpinning and academic rigor of the program; the career-related study further supports the program’s academic strength and provides practical, real-world approaches to learning; and the CP core helps them to develop skills and competencies required for lifelong learning.

  For more information on IB programs, visit www.ibo.org


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