The Diploma Programme Curriculum

Certificate Courses:

Students may take one or more IBDP courses “a la carte,” without pursuing the Full Diploma.  These are taken as “certificate” courses and success on global summative assessments may possibly earn college credit or recognition, depending on course, assessment score, and university policy.  HL certificate courses earn more university recognition than SL courses, but in addition to the score achieved, much depends on the courses taken and the university students attend (just like AP). 


Full Diploma Curriculum:

Students who complete the full diploma program successfully (described below) can earn significant recognition from universities across the globe.  This is a two-year, “college level” educational program to be taken over junior and senior years.   


The full Diploma Programme curriculum is made up of the DP core and six subject groups.


With three required components, the DP core aims to broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills. 

The three core elements are:

  • 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, activity, service, in which students complete a project related to those three concepts.
The six subject groups are:
  • Studies in language and literature
  • Language acquisition
  • Individuals and societies
  • Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • The arts

Note:  Students may opt to study an additional sciences, individuals and societies, or languages course, instead of a course in the arts.


Students will take some subjects at higher level (HL) and some at standard level (SL).  HL and SL courses differ in scope but are measured according to the same grade descriptors, with students expected to demonstrate a greater body of knowledge, understanding and skills at higher level.


Each student takes at least three (but not more than four) subjects at higher level, and the remaining at standard level.  Standard level subjects require a minimum of 150 teaching hours while higher level courses require a minimum of 240 teaching hours.  While all IBDP SL and HL courses are meant to be two-year learning experiences, the IB allows for no more than two SL courses to be taken over one year.  For this to work, a dozen X-Periods will be utilized over each of the two years of the DP to ensure the minimum number of teaching hours will be met for one-year SL courses.