IB Diploma Programme

Introduction and History

The IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) is an academically challenging and balanced educational programme that includes final examinations and prepares students aged 16 to 19 for dpsuccess at university and beyond. It is a broad-based two-year course that encourages students to be knowledgeable and inquiring, but also caring and compassionate. They develop intercultural understanding, open-mindedness, and the capability to respect and evaluate a range of points of view.

Tracing its roots back to 1948, the IBDP was fully developed in Geneva, Switzerland in the mid-1960s by a group of international educators.  Following a six-year pilot programme ending in 1975, it officially established a bilingual diploma that has, since then, spread to more than 75 countries world-wide. It is now recognized by thousands of universities in the U.S. and abroad for its rigorous, academic preparation for college.


The Curriculum

IBDP students choose one subject from each of five groups including Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, and Mathematics.  They also choose an Arts subject as part of the sixth group but have the option to replace it with a different subject from the aforementioned groups 1 through 5.  In addition, IBDP students also complete the Diploma Programme Core which includes Theory of Knowledge; the Extended Essay; and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS), the extracurricular component of the programme. This core interweaves and unifies the six academic subjects for a wholly interdisciplinary experience spanning both junior and senior year.

IBDP courses include Higher Level (HL), Standard Level (SL), or Ab Initio (introductory level for Language Acquisition) designations. To be eligible for the IB diploma, students must take at least three HL courses and at least two SL courses. At Eagle Rock, we prescribe Language and Literature, History, and Arts (or the group 6 Arts replacement) courses as HL but students may arrange for different HL/SL combinations if their respective teachers approve. For more information about selecting alternative HL/SL combinations, students may contact Mr. Malmed, IBDP Coordinator, to explore possibilities. 

For more information about each course, please click on the subject briefs or guides below.


Group 1-Language and Literature:

IB English HL 1

IB English HL 2



Group 2-Language Acquisition: 

Mandarin Ab Initio 

French Ab Initio 


Spanish SL

Spanish HL 1

Spanish HL 2

French SL

French HL 1

French HL 2


Group 3-Individuals and Societies:

History HL 1

History of the Americas HL 2

IB History HL Brief (545.33 KB)


Psychology HL 1

Psychology HL 2


Group 4-Sciences:

IB Physics SL

Physics SL Brief (400.53 KB)


IB Biology SL

Biology SL Brief (400.03 KB)
Biology SL Guide (2.34 MB)


Group 5-Mathematics:

IB Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation SL


IB Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches SL


Group 6-The Arts:

Visual Arts HL 1

Visual Arts HL 2


Film HL 1

Film HL 2

IB Film HL Brief (356.65 KB)
IB Film HL Guide (2.77 MB)


Music HL 1

Music HL 2

IB Music HL Brief (624.07 KB)


Theatre HL 1

Theatre HL2


Integration with AP courses:

Some of the subjects listed above include an AP course within the first year of the two year course. Math Analysis and Approaches SL, Biology SL, Physics SL, and Psychology HL include AP Calculus, AP Biology, AP Physics, and AP Psychology as the first year of their respective course. The second year then draws on the AP content for more advanced application required for IB assessments.  


The Diploma Programme Core

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) develops a coherent approach to learning that unifies the academic disciplines.  In this critical thinking course, students inquire into the nature of what it means to know something. They investigate five areas of knowledge including the Natural Sciences, the Human Sciences, History, Arts, and Math and two of five prescribed themes that address knowledge through politics, language, technology, religion, or indigenous societies. Students will take the TOK course through both their junior and senior years where they will also manage their Extended Essay and CAS core requirements.


The Extended Essay (EE) asks students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question within an approved IBDP subject of their choice. Among their options is the interdisciplinary World Studies Extended Essay which allows students to focus on a topic of global significance through the lens of at least two Diploma Programme subjects. The entire research, outlining, writing, and revising process will last 40 hours, spanning both junior and senior years, and will be individually supervised by an ERHS faculty member. The final product will be approximately 4,000 words (13-15 pages) and will use appropriate academic formatting and citations.

EE Brief (608.59 KB)
EE Guide (4.7 MB)


Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies throughout the Diploma Programme.  Creativity encourages students to engage in the arts and promotes creative thinking.  Activity seeks to develop a healthy lifestyle through physical exertion.  Service offers a collaborative and reciprocal nurturing of the community based on an authentic need.  The three strands of CAS enhance students’ personal and interpersonal development through experiential learning and enable journeys of self-discovery.

CAS Brief (639.35 KB)
CAS Guide (2.47 MB)


Diploma Programme Assessment

  • Students take written examinations at the end of the programme which are marked by external IB examiners.  Students also complete internal assessment tasks in school, which are either initially marked by ERHS teachers and then externally moderated by IB examiners. 
  • The marks awarded for each course range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest).  Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results in both the TOK assessments and the EE.  The diploma is awarded to students who earn at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance across the whole programme and complete their core requirements.  The highest total that an IBDP student can be awarded is 45 points. 
  • Assessment is criterion-related, which means student performance is measured against pre-specified assessment criteria based on the aims and objectives of each subject curriculum, rather than the performance of other students taking the same examinations.  The range of scores that students have attained remains statistically stable, and universities value the rigor and consistency of Diploma Programme assessment practices.
  • For a more detailed overview of IBDP assessments see the Assessment Overview tab above.



Why should I become a Diploma Programme candidate?

Aside from the benefits of receiving a balanced, well-rounded education, IB diploma earners will receive a degree that is recognized world-wide as preparing students for university studies and life in a global society.  All IBDP students, whether they earn the diploma or do not, are highly sought after by colleges and universities for having challenged themselves through the most rigorous program that Eagle Rock High School offers.  Colleges and universities issue students credit for IB courses upon admission in the same manner as they do for Advanced Placement (AP) courses.  For the UC system, students who earn the IB diploma with a score of 30 or above receive 30 quarter (20 semester) units toward their UC degree.  Students who receive IB certificates with scores of 5, 6 or 7 on Higher Level exams will receive 8 quarter (5.3 semester) units. Most other colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the world also offer significant credit for both diploma and individual exam scores as well. 


View Videos by Diploma Programme Instructors →
Collection of videos by Phoebe Kim.


If you have questions please contact

Jonathan Malmed, IBDP Coordinator


(323) 340-3819