International Baccalaureate

Personalize your education based on your interests.

Your IB Diploma is highly customizable, giving you the opportunity to select 6 subjects unique to your interests. Over the course of Grade 11 and Grade 12, you will study literature, mathematics, at least one experimental science, at least one subject in the “individuals and societies” category, and a second language. But, you have options. In choosing your subjects you can emphasize your strengths and passions, and select classes that are novel and adventurous. Maybe you want to be a scientist, diplomat, or an artist. Maybe you're drawn to another field entirely. No matter your interests, you can personalize your IB Courses based on who you are.

Choose your subject level.

You can further play to your strengths by selecting at least three of your chosen subjects at High Level (HL) for a more in-depth study, while maintaining varied studies with three subjects at Student Level (SL). Most courses that we offer can be studied at either SL or HL.

IB Courses

Group 1: Language and Literature

Students can choose between 2 courses: Literature, and Language and Literature. Both courses may be studied at either High Level (HL) or Student Level (SL).

  • Literature: The course is organized into four parts, each focused on a group of literary works. Together, the four parts of the course add up to a comprehensive exploration of literature from a variety of cultures, genres and periods. Students learn to appreciate the artistry of literature, and develop the ability to reflect critically on their reading, presenting literary analysis powerfully through both oral and written communication. Students are assessed through a combination of formal examinations, written coursework and oral activities.
  • Language and Literature: The course expands what the definition of a 'text' is. The course is organized into four parts, each focussed on the study of either literary or non-literary texts. Together, the four parts of the course allow the student to explore language through its cultural development and use, its media forms and functions, and its literature. Students develop skills of literary and textual analysis, and also the ability to present their ideas effectively. A key aim is the development of critical literacy. Students are assessed through a combination of formal examinations, written coursework and oral activities.

Through each course, students are able to develop:

  • A personal appreciation of language and literature
  • Skills in literary criticism using a range of texts from different periods, styles and genres
  • An understanding of the formal, stylistic and aesthetic qualities of texts
  • Strong powers of expression, both written and oral
  • An appreciation of cultural differences in perspective
  • An understanding of how language challenges and sustains ways of thinking.

Group 2: Language Acquisition

The main emphasis of the modern language courses is on the acquisition and use of language in a range of contexts and for different purposes while, at the same time, promoting an understanding of another culture through the study of its language.

To accommodate students’ interest and previous experience in language studies, the following courses are available:

  • Language B: This level is intended for students who have had some previous experience of learning the language. Each language may be studied at either SL or HL. Students can choose to learn Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, or Spanish.
  • Language ab initio: This level is for students who have very little or no experience with the language. Courses are offered online and are only available at SL. Students can choose to learn Chinese, French or Spanish.

Group 3: Individuals and Societies

Students can choose between:

  • Geography (SL or HL)
  • Global Politics (SL or HL)
  • History (SL or HL)
  • Psychology (SL or HL)
  • Business Management (Online - SL or HL)
  • Economics (Online - SL or HL)
  • Informational Technology in a Global Society (Online - SL)

Studying any one of these subjects provides for the development of a critical appreciation of:

  • Human experience and behavior
  • The varieties of physical, economic, and social environments that people inhabit
  • The history of social and cultural institutions

Geography: The course focuses on the interrelationships between people, places, spaces, and the environment. The course integrates both physical and human geography, and ensures that students acquire elements of both scientific and socio-economic methodologies.

Global Politics: The course emphasizes themes of power, sovereignty and international relations, human rights, peace and conflict, and development. Students complete an engagement activity on a political issue of personal interest, complemented with research. Students are expected to become politically involved with an issue they are passionate about that is within the ethical guidelines outlined by the IB.

History: The world history course is based on comparative, multi-perspective approaches to history and focuses around key historical concepts such as change, causation, and significance. It involves the study of a variety of types of history, including political, economic, social, and cultural, encouraging students to think historically and to develop historical skills.

Psychology: Psychology is the rigorous and systematic study of mental processes and behavior. The course draws on concepts, methods, and understandings from a number of different disciplines. The study of behavior and mental processes requires a multidisciplinary approach and the use of a variety of research techniques.

Business Management: The course is designed to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of business management theories, as well as their ability to apply a range of tools and techniques. Students learn to analyze, discuss, and evaluate business activities at local, national, and international levels. The course covers a range of organizations from all sectors, as well as the socio-cultural and economic contexts in which those organizations operate.

Economics: The study of economics focuses on dealing with scarcity, resource allocation, and the methods and processes by which choices are made in the satisfaction of human wants. As a social science, economics uses scientific methodologies that include quantitative and qualitative elements. During the two-year IB program, students will study microeconomics - the study of individual markets, as well as macroeconomics - the study of economies in aggregate.  Additionally, the program focuses on international and development economics, focusing both on quantitative theories, and specific real world examples.

Information Technology in a Global Society: The innovative course examines individuals and societies. The course framework is composed of three strands, with interrelating topics within each: IT systems, social and ethnical significance, and application to specified scenarios. The course uses an integrated approach, encouraging students to make informed judgements and decisions about the role of information and communication technologies in contemporary society.

Group 4: Sciences

Students can choose between:

  • Biology (SL and HL)
  • Chemistry (SL and HL)
  • Environmental Systems and Societies (SL)
  • Physics in English (SL and HL)
  • Physics in French (SL and HL)

Biology, Chemistry, and Physics: The sciences are taught practically. Students have opportunities to design investigations, collect data, develop manipulative skills, analyze results, collaborate with peers, and evaluate and communicate their findings. The investigations may be laboratory based or they may make use of simulations and databases. Students develop the skills to work independently on their own design, but also collegiately, including collaboration with schools in different regions, to mirror the way in which scientific research is conducted in the wider community.

Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS): The goal of ESS is to introduce students to the complex environmental challenges on our planet and the impacts and solutions surrounding each one by using a holistic approach. Students assess a situation by looking at the environmental viewpoints, social beliefs and political challenges surrounding each problem. In addition, students assess the environmental impact of a situation by understanding the science behind how each ecosystem functions. Students are encouraged to develop their own opinions about environmental issues on a global and local level, using examples to support their thinking.

Group 5: Mathematics

Students can choose between:

  • Applications and Interpretation (SL and HL): The course is designed for students who enjoy describing the real world and solving practical problems using mathematics, those who are interested in harnessing the power of technology alongside exploring mathematical models and enjoy the more practical side of mathematics. Topic coverage includes: number and algebra, sets, logic, probability, functions (including trigonometric functions), solid geometry, statistics (up to hypothesis testing), financial mathematics, and introductory differential calculus.
  • Analysis and Approaches (SL and HL): The course is intended for students who wish to pursue studies in mathematics at university or subjects that have a large mathematical content; it is for students who enjoy developing mathematical arguments, problem solving and exploring real and abstract applications, with and without technology.

The aims of these courses are to enable students to:

  • Develop mathematical knowledge, concepts and principles
  • Develop logical, critical and creative thinking
  • Employ and refine their powers of abstraction and generalization

Group 6: The Arts

Students may select an Arts subject or select a second subject in Groups 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Students can choose:

  • Design Technology (SL and HL)
  • Film (SL and HL)
  • Music (SL and HL)
  • Theater (SL and HL)
  • Visual Arts (SL and HL)

Design Technology: Inquiry and problem-solving are at the heart of the course. Students learn to use the design cycle as a tool, which provides the methodology used to structure the inquiry and analysis of problems, the development of feasible solutions, and the testing and evaluation of the solution. In the Design Lab at International, students are introduced to cutting-edge tools and equipment, including: 3-D printers, mills, laser cutters, foam cutters, and design tools, and engineering software that enable students to create, produce, and build unique designs and prototypes.

Film: The course emphasizes the clarity of understanding, critical thinking, reflective analysis, effective involvement, and imaginative synthesis that is achieved through practical engagement in the art and craft of film.

Music: Involving aspects of the composition, performance, and critical analysis of music, the course exposes students to forms, styles and functions of music from a wide range of historical and socio-cultural contexts. Students create, participate in, and reflect upon music from their own background and those of others. They develop practical and communicative skills which provide them with the opportunity to engage in music for further study, as well as for lifetime enjoyment.

Theater: The course is a multifaceted theater-making course of study. Students develop skills in performance technique (movement, voice, improvisation, scene study) and explore stagecraft, design, writing, and directing. They study major theater practitioners (such as Stanislavsky, Brecht, LeCoq, Artaud, Boal) and delve into international theater traditions. Students work with visiting artists, perform for the school community, and take field trips to see local productions. Classes culminate in compelling individual projects, in which students take the lead in directing, designing, and producing. 

Visual Arts: The course encourages students to challenge their own creative and cultural expectations and boundaries. It is a thought-provoking course in which students develop analytical skills in problem-solving and divergent thinking, while working towards technical proficiency and confidence as art-makers. In addition to exploring and comparing visual arts from different perspectives and in different contexts, students are expected to engage in, experiment with, and reflect upon a wide range of contemporary practices and media.

Core Elements

There are three required components that all students must achieve in order to finish the IB curriculum. These core elements aim to broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills. The three core elements are:

  • Theory of Knowledge, a class in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
  • Extended Essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS), in which students complete a project related to those three concepts.

Additional: The Bilingual IB Diploma

Students have the option to earn a Bilingual IB Diploma. This diploma is awarded to students who have successfully undertaken specific classes and requirements in a second language, such as:

  • Two studies in Language and Literature in different languages.
  • A Humanities subject in French.
  • A Science subject in French.

IB Facts

The IB was developed in Geneva 50 years ago to allow students in international schools to obtain a rigorous credential that would be recognized around the world.

International High School was the 4th school in the U.S. authorized to deliver the full IB Diploma Program, of over 1,300 in the U.S. today.

Compared to AP classes, IB classes and assessments tend to involve more research, writing, and hands-on evaluation over rote learning and standardized tests.

Just Ask Our Students:

"A great thing about the IB is that you can delve deep into topics that truly interest you, and the teachers here encourage you to apply any sort of prior knowledge you might possess."- Julian '19
Meet our students.