What Is an International Baccalaureate?


The International Baccalaureate is a nonprofit educational group based in Geneva. The IB offers preschool- through high school-level programs in over 140 countries worldwide, including more than 1,300 schools in the United States.

IB Internationally

  • The International Baccalaureate sponsors around 4,500 programs worldwide, over half of which are located in the Americas. The IB also includes about 1,100 programs in Africa, Europe and the Middle East and 800 in the Asia-Pacific region. Most are diploma programs, offering the equivalent of a high school education.

    In the United States, any school offering a program sponsored by the IB is known as an IB school. However, not all IB schools exclusively offer IB programs. While all elementary IB schools use IB teaching methods, middle- or high school-level IB schools may include IB-level courses or traditional diploma programs.

IB Timelines

  • IB programs are separated into three sections, which do not correspond with traditional school timelines in the United States. The IB primary program teaches children from ages 3 through 12 and may overlap with the middle years program, which teaches children ages 11 to 16 -- and this may not fit with freshman and sophomore year courses for students who are pursuing only a partial IB education. IB's two-year diploma program provides the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Program Emphasis

  • International Baccalaureate programs tend to be more student-directed than comparable middle and high school programs. Students focus less on note-taking and lectures and more on individual research projects and experiments as facilitated by teachers. While this allows students a greater say in determining what they learn, it also requires students to contribute a larger portion of their free time to schoolwork, making full participation in the program difficult for students with extracurricular activities.


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