International Baccalaureate

Inspiring tomorrow’s thinkers and leaders…

International Baccalaureate at MCDS

What is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme?

PHSphotoIB is an internationally recognized pre-university program, known for its challenging curriculum that develops critical thinking, spirit of inquiry, exceptional written and oral communication skills, and global perspective.

What are the IB pathways at MCDS?

At MCDS, students benefit from IB curriculum through multiple pathways that satisfy each student’s personal goals, which may range from earning a full IB Diploma to taking select IB classes.

How do students earn the full IB Diploma?

The IB Diploma is awarded to students who:

  1. Study and take exams in six academic areas: English, Mathematics, History, Biology, World Language (Spanish or Japanese), Art or Music.
  2. Complete critical thinking class called “Theory of Knowledge.”
  3. Research and write a 4,000 word original research paper called the “Extended Essay.”
  4. Complete a minimum of 150 hours of extracurricular activities with the purpose of “Creativity, Action, and Service” (CAS).

How does IB pay off for your student?

  • Up to 20 credits earned for college (savings of over $5,000, plus ability to place into higher level classes faster.)
  • Differentiates and adds credential to college applications.
  • Increases college merit aid opportunities. (Typical merit aid award of MCDS graduate is $20,000-$25,000, renewable each year.)
  • Improves ability to succeed in college and join the global economy, due to IB emphasis on analytical thinking and communication skills.

What makes IB uniquely successful?

  • Quality and nature of curriculum, going deeper into each subject
  • Process of thinking inspired by teaching methods and classroom discussion, giving tools to independently think critically and creatively
  • Pathway to exceptional colleges and universities

What is the difference between IB and AP (Advanced Placement)?

Program subjects IB courses are connected as a program, with analytical thinking gained through studying the relationships between subject areas. Composite IB scores are based on classroom work over two years, exams, essays and completion of unique requirements. AP courses are offered on an a la carte basis with a single three-hour exam upon completion.
Approach to Learning IB places greater emphasis on critical and creative thinking, considering subjects in depth and from multiple perspectives. AP offers a broader approach to individual subjects that focus on content-knowledge.
Theory of Knowledge By studying the interrelationship between subjects, students develop the ability to make connections between ideas and think critically about the way they learn. (Skills prized by future educators and employers) Not available.
Creativity, Action & Service (CAS)  150 hours devoted to creative activities and service ensures that students grow as well-rounded people and global citizens. Not available.
Extended Essay  Writing skills, spirit of inquiry, research abilities and persuasive argument techniques are sharpened through original research project. Not available.


IB Info Sheet
For a printable version of the information above, click here.


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?”


IB Wisconsin
To learn about IB Wisconsin, click here.


IB Parent Page
IB has just released a new “IB Parent Page“, which provides an overview of the various IB programs, plus recommended research, resources, and advice for supporting IB students.