International Baccalaureate® Programme

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Programme aims to do more than other curricula by developing inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. We strive to develop students who will build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect.


  • encourages students of all ages to think critically and challenge assumptions
  • develops independently of government and national systems, incorporating quality practice from research and our global community
  • encourages students of all ages to consider both local and global contexts
  • develops multilingual students.

What is IB?

The International Baccalaureate® Programme is an internationally consistent, extensively developed global education program held in high regard by colleges and universities all over the world. The IB is known for its rigor and explicit emphasis on creativity, synthesis, critical thinking and deep understanding.

In a collection of essays by Richard Dawkins entitled Science in the Soul, the author reflects on his excellent early education. He recalls teachers who instilled a sense of wonder about the world and enthusiasm for learning and set him on a path to academic and professional excellence. Dawkins learned from teachers who believed that “what matters is not the facts but how you discover and think about them: education in the true sense, very different from today’s assessment-mad exam culture.” This quote could be used to describe the central approach of the IB, and, if you continue reading on this site, you will discover it also expresses the essence of what teachers at Cheshire Academy love about the IB.

What is the difference between AP and IB?

It is well known that students aspiring to enroll in competitive colleges and universities focus on taking a large number of advanced placement (AP) courses in high school, even as many colleges limit the amount of credit they are willing to give for high grades.

The AP trend has grown steadily in the US since the 1960s, the same time period when the international diplomatic community initiated the International Baccalaureate® Programme (IB). The IB is growing in the United States and all around the world. It is highly established and very well known all over Europe. While both programs offer rigorous courses, there are distinct and important differences between the AP and IB.

There is a consistent theme in all IB courses: a careful and explicit focus on critical thinking and problem solving. Students learn adaptable critical thinking skills and are asked to apply them creatively, and teachers are encouraged to adopt best practices consistent with emerging brain science and modern educational research. There is decreased emphasis on “coverage” as that has normally been understood in high school education. The injunction to teach “critical thinking skills” has been much repeated in the educational world over the last 30 years; we think the IB Program contains a sophisticated and effective focus on this challenge. All students in the Diploma Programme must take three High Level (HL) courses and three Standard Level (SL) courses. The primary distinction between all HL and SL courses is the volume of work; in all other ways, they are the same.

When and where did it start?

The IB program was initiated by the international diplomatic community in the 1960s and has grown consistently in all ways since then. The founders had a clear agenda: to create a consistent, rigorous program that would allow fluid student movement around the world and help promote international understanding and goodwill.

Is it for everyone?

Nearly all of CA’s juniors and seniors take one or more IB courses. The top level of the program is called the IB Diploma Programme. This elective, two-year program is a comprised of a demanding and rewarding curricula, requiring the student to take three high-level course, three standard-level courses, and the Theory of Knowledge course.

Written components—an integral part of the IB curricula—are included in all IB courses, either in an external or international assessment format, or both. All courses conclude with written final exams.

For most internal assessments, students have to submit written work in addition to the final papers, requiring them to research a topic of their choice based on the subject matter. Specific requirements can be found on the IBO website.

Students who pursue the IB Diploma must also enroll in a second language. We offer French and Spanish. In addition, the candidate must write an extended essay on a self-chosen topic, and complete a community service project.

CA strongly encourages its most ambitious students to pursue the Diploma Programme. The general experience is that a “good” student with developed time-management skills, who is willing to work hard, can thrive in this program, and a gifted student can find the level of challenge they need. Careful discussions are entered with any new family about what is best for their student’s academic journey.

Students who complete the full IB Diploma Programme or individual Diploma Programme course exams may also receive college credit at select U.S. colleges and universities. The total number of credits awarded varies by school.


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