The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme is an internationally recognized pre-university program established in 1968. It is recognized world-wide for its challenging curriculum and is currently offered in 139 countries to approximately 838,000 students. In the United States alone there are more than 1,160 IB World Schools. The IB Diploma Programme is a comprehensive two-year curriculum offered during the junior and senior year. The Programme supports critical thinking through the disciplined study of six subjects that embed the principles of active citizenship and global perspective taking. Students who successfully complete the assessments in these areas as well as other requirements are awarded an IB Diploma, a highly competitive credential.
Accredited as an IB World School, MCDS offers the opportunity to participate in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, a well-rounded academic experience.
“IB allows me to focus on an area in which I am particularly interested without excluding other fields of study. IB helps foster my excitement for ALL subjects and the connection between them. I truly believe now, that I could seek a job in almost any field – History, Science, Mathematics, Music, Writing – and be truly happy there.”
-MCDS IB Student
•Focuses on an internationally recognized curriculum, offering a proven pathway to college entry as well as college credit and/or placement.
•Provides further depth to a liberal-arts education, requiring that students receive a balanced education and providing opportunity to pursue personal interests.
•Develops writing skills and spirit of inquiry necessary in higher education through an interdisciplinary course and original research project.
•Cultivates thoughtful, analytical, well-rounded individuals with a global perspective through the Programme and extracurricular and service requirements.
The IB Diploma Programme Curriculum at MCDS
The IB Programme preserves a number of important features of the MCDS High School curriculum and adds depth to our offering through the diploma requirements listed below. Through a prescribed book list which mirrors our own, students in English continue to develop a personal appreciation of literature and their oral and written communication skills. Students also continue to study a foreign language, using literature to seek a native fluency in a given language, per the MCDS founding ideal. Likewise in Science, students continue to learn the essential topics in a given subject and further develop their understanding of the scientific method through the IB emphasis upon laboratory work. Like MCDS, the IB Programme emphasizes an intellectual approach to academics: the IB math curriculum prepares students for further studies and careers but also aims to develop an appreciation of the intrinsic beauty of mathematics. One other feature of the IB Programme is that it is proven to develop an analytical ability and habit of reflection in students that matches MCDS’ liberal-arts ideal. In History, for example, students move beyond the AP model of exhaustive details to carefully studying a number of periods and areas in greater depth. Likewise in Art, students are evaluated on both their studio work and research workbook that ensures that their own work reflects and builds upon a solid grounding in the history of art. The Music curriculum is flexible enough to allow MCDS students to continue their pursuit of ABRSM standards if so desired.
IB Diploma Requirements
Earning the Diploma
The Programme covers the last two years of high school, requiring students to study and sit exams in six academic areas, upon which the IB hexagonal model is based. Students must take at least three, and not more than four, courses at a “Higher Level” (HL) and the others at a “Standard Level” (SL). The HL courses call for students to learn more skills and content and therefore require more class time. In addition to the minimum six classes, students fulfill three unique requirements: a critical thinking class called Theory of Knowledge, a 4,000 word original research paper called an Extended Essay, and a minimum of 150 hours of participation in extracurricular activities under the heading of Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS). If a student fulfills these requirements and achieves a cumulative score of 24 on exams in the six areas (exams are graded on a 1-7 scale), he/she receives the IB Diploma. Note that the IB grading scale mirrors the MCDS grading philosophy of counting an “average” grade in an exceptional curriculum as passing, leaving room in the grading scale to distinguish truly exceptional work. Subject exams amount to 42 points, with 3 points also available for exceptional Extended Essays and Theory of Knowledge work. Students may also choose to sit exams in specific subject areas and receive IB Certificates in those subjects only.
Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
Theory of Knowledge not only develops students’ knowledge of the interrelationship between subjects but develops their own ability to make connections between ideas and think critically about the way they learn. Such skills are prized by future educators and employers.
Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)
Creativity, Action, and Service, inspired by Kurt Hahn, founder of Outward Bound, ensures that students grow as people, just as MCDS has always encouraged student participation in athletics and the arts. By formally adding service, we can maintain our tradition of developing the whole student.
The Extended Essay is an opportunity for students to explore a topic over six months of research and writing in a manner similar to a college senior’s thesis. According to Jay Matthews and Ian Hill, in Supertest: How the International Baccalaureate can Strengthen our Schools, this provides “in many students’ minds the highlight of their two years in IB.”
Examples of MCDS Student Extended Essays:
- “U.S. Government Policy towards Japan during the Franklin Roosevelt Administration 1933-1941″
- “Vladimir Nabokov and Humbert Humbert: Phosphorescent Fingertips”
- “Why Did the Spanish Influenza of 1918 Become Known as the Forgotten Flu?”
- “Examination of Elizabeth Bishop’s changing poetic treatment of her experiences”
- “Self-conception of Children in Closed and Open Adoptions”
- “To what extent did the internal combustion change the practice of warfare during WWI?”
To learn more about the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at MCDS, please click here.