The International Baccalaureate Program:
Education With A Global Perspective

The IB Scores Needed for the Top Universities in the World
Source: Crimson Education

Is your dream to go overseas for university?

If so, now’s the time to act, because there are certain things you can do in high school to make that dream a reality! One of them is choosing the right curriculum.

Depending on where you’re from, you may or may not have heard of the International Baccalaureate, which is a globally recognised high school syllabus.

Globally recognised? Why is that important? It is important because it means you will have a better chance of getting accepted into a top university.

What is the IB?

The IB is a global standard academic program run by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), an independent not-for-profit based in Switzerland. There are four programs catering to students from ages three to 19, but the one you need to know about is the IB Diploma Program (DP), which is a two-year “pre-university” course that students start in their junior year of high school.

There are 4,700 IB accredited schools spanning 148 countries, so check to see if your school is one of them before you get too excited.

Minnetonka International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme from Minnetonka Public Schools on Vimeo.

Why take the IB?

One of the main reasons you might be considering the IB Diploma is to improve your chances of gaining admission into a top university. Let’s look at what this means in the USA. What does the research say about the Diploma Programme impact on college admission and enrollment in the USA?


The IB Diploma Program is kind of a big deal in the States, where it’s unofficially accepted as a “college standard” curriculum. In fact, universities tend to admit IB students at a higher rate than their non-IB counterparts.

An IBO survey showed that the acceptance rate of IB students into Ivy League universities is up to 18% higher than the total population acceptance rate.

ivy league

The gap is even more significant for top-ranked universities outside of the Ivy League. This is not to say that an IB student will be given preference over a non-IB student in the university selection process, but it indicates that students are stronger candidates as a result of taking the IB.

Regardless, completing the DP definitely won’t hurt your chances of admission. So if you had the US in mind for university, I suggest you jump on the IB bandwagon ASAP!

Need more convincing?

Most of the top US colleges will even give you credits for your Diploma Program subjects if you get over a certain score.

You know what that means… One step closer to graduation, baby!

For example, at University of Pennsylvania (an Ivy League), a score of six in most “higher level” (HL) IB subjects will earn you some credits towards your degree.

At Stanford University, specified HL IB exams with scores of five or higher in the subjects listed here are eligible for credit.

New York University typically awards eight hours of course credits for each HL subject in which you’ve scored at least a six.

The state university system (UC Berkeley, SUNY, etc.) is even more generous when it comes to the IB. As a policy, DP recipients will earn a minimum of 30 credit hours and up to 45 credit hours of advanced credit.

And yet there are more perks!

ib programme

Strong IB performance can also benefit you when it comes to university scholarship and financial aid assessments.

So, why do US universities love the IB so much?!

To be perfectly honest with you, the IB ain’t easy.

The Diploma Program can be up to double the coursework of your school’s standard curriculum and requires a lot of independent study and self-discipline.

You need to perform well in all subject fields – not just the arts, humanities, or sciences – everything, including two languages!

On top of this, it requires you to be involved in activities outside the classroom, such as sport and community service.

While it seems like a lot to take on, believe me when I say that the DP provides all the ingredients for a strong application to a top US college.

That’s why, if you do well, an IB qualification is the best way to demonstrate your strength as a candidate to US universities.

There are three reasons for this:

1. It shows that you challenge yourself

The top US colleges love good grades, but what they love even more is to see that you’ve pushed yourself to get those good grades. When admissions officers see the IB DP qualification on your application, they automatically get a picture of you as a student and an insight into your character.

They know that you’ve taken the hard route and that you’re not afraid of a challenge; that you’ve taken the extra step people around you have not. If you apply with your country’s high school qualification, it’s not as easy for these universities to interpret your academic journey.

You might have achieved good marks all throughout high school, but it’s hard for them to know what was required of you to achieve those grades when they aren’t able to compare like with like.

What if you just took all the “easy” subjects so you didn’t have to work as hard?

What if you only played to your strengths by selecting subjects you’re good at?

What if you had the opportunity to move up to a more advanced maths class but chose not to because it guaranteed you a better grade? It’s impossible for them to know!

With the IB Diploma Program, there are no guessing games. Universities understand the IB’s rigour and they know what it takes to come out of the DP with a good score: consistent hard work and dedication.


The International Baccalaureate Program:
Education With A Global Perspective

These are the kind of qualities they look for in candidates. And this isn’t speculation – some universities will even say outright that they hold IB applicants in higher regard.

Purdue University encourages prospective students to seek the most challenging pre-university courses possible.

Students taking International Baccalaureate (IB) courses will be considered for admission regardless if they are pursuing the IB diploma or not as long as the general subject matter requirements are met.

For admission purposes, High Level (HL) coursework is not given a particular preference over Standard Level (SL) coursework. An applicant’s entire academic profile will be reviewed holistically.

Likewise, University of Southern California (USC) states that “students who undertake an IB curriculum are well-prepared for the rigours of university academic life” and that “IB courses are factored into the admission evaluation process because USC recognises the extreme rigour of such a curriculum”.

The Ivy League colleges remain tight-lipped on the importance they place on the IB, but it’s possible that admissions officers at these universities are more biased towards a good DP result than they are a good result in a country specific qualification.

Guide for IB students applying to US institutions This guide provides a brief introduction to the US higher education system and its application process, as well as information specifically relevant to

Source: Guide for IB students applying to US institutions – PDF

2. It shows that you have breadth of knowledge

The IB offers a broad education by requiring students to pick subjects from a range of academic disciplines. This, in turn, gives students a well-rounded liberal arts perspective, which is highly sought after in the US university admissions process.
That’s because US colleges encourage “intellectual exploration”, which means for the first two years you’ll study a bit of everything before deciding on a major, or specialisation.

3. It shows that you are a well-rounded person

This is no surprise considering the IBO aims to create well-rounded students with all of its programs. They do this by making sure students show achievement not only academically, but non-academically as well. This works in favour of US universities who look for things like community involvement, leadership, research, and impactful projects – all of which are built into the IB curriculum.

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
This entry was posted in Baccalaureate, Education, Higher Education Teaching & Learning, PLN and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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