What is IB College Credit and How Does It Work?

What is the International Baccalaureate Program?

International Baccalaureate, or IB, is a highly rigorous secondary program of study that is offered at high schools throughout the United States and around the world that have chosen to affiliate with the IB diploma program. Students participating in an IB diploma program are required to take courses in six subject areas: language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, and arts. These courses may be offered at two levels: standard or higher. In addition, participants must complete IB core elements such as an extended essay; creativity, action and service project; and theory of knowledge course.

Upon completion of IB courses, students will take written exams in each of the six major subject areas. These tests are offered in November and May of each calendar year. Students will receive a score ranging from 1-7 in each subject. A total of 24 total points is required to earn the IB diploma, in addition to completion of the core. Candidates will receive their scores, and in addition they may be sent directly to colleges.

Can I Receive College Credit for Participating in an IB program?

Many universities offer college credit for those who have taken part in the international baccalaureate program.

At most universities, credit received will be based upon the scores for each individual subject area examination, as opposed to the IB diploma itself. Some universities only give credit for the completion of higher-level exams. Typically, this credit will correspond directly with an entry-level or distribution requirement. For example, a student completing the IB examination in chemistry and earning an acceptable score may be given credit as if they had taken the university's entry-level chemistry course. Grades are typically not given with the award of credit through these tests.

At some universities, the attainment of an IB diploma will qualify a student to receive a certain amount of college credit, independent of the scores on the individual subject-level tests. The amount of credit may correspond to up to one year of study. If students do not qualify for the diploma but have scored at an acceptable level on individual tests, they may still receive some credit.

Most universities will set a maximum number of credits that can be earned through participation in IB tests. It's important to know your university's specific requirements regarding the transfer of credits from international baccalaureate exams.

How Else Do Colleges Use IB Scores?

While colleges may not see the results of IB tests during the application process, candidates who participate in an IB program are often considered excellent candidates, as the program at any level can help to develop academic and critical thinking skills that are essential to success in college. The results of IB examinations may also be used for placement purposes in college-level classes, and some of the individual tests, particularly in the sciences and mathematics, may be used to waive or satisfy requirements for degree programs. Some universities also have scholarship programs for students who enter holding their IB diploma.

Students interested in learning about the concept of credit hours can read this article, which provides information about what college credit hours are, how they are earned, and a few different types of credit hours.

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