International Baccalaureate Program (IB)
About the IB Program
IB is a comprehensive academic program that fosters inquiry and intercultural understanding in students as they engage in a series of college-level courses that will prepare them to build a better world.
Students can either take individual IB classes or pursue an IB diploma. For more information, please contact your guidance counselor or the AP/IB Coordinator.
IB classes may qualify for college credit or enable students to bypass introductory courses in college.
To earn an IB diploma, a student is required to take three one-year “standard-level” classes and three two-year “higher-level” classes. Students also must take a Theory of Knowledge class both junior and senior year and complete an extended essay on a research topic of their choice. Students must plan and carry out a Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) project as well. Finally, students must successfully complete IB exams in each class they study.
Students enrolled in IB courses or the full IB diploma are expected to take the IB examination in May and submit all required assessment components. You will be charged an examination fee for each IB course you are enrolled in. A fee reduction may be available based on financial need. Students must take the IB exam associated with the course in order to receive potential credit for the course. Failure to do so will result in an inability to gain credit for course work, or the full IB diploma.
The aim of all IB programs is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.
The IB learner profile represents 10 attributes valued by IB World Schools. IB learners strive to be inquirers, open-minded, knowledgeable, caring, thinkers, risk-takers, communicators, balanced, principled and reflective. We believe these attributes, and others like them, help individuals and groups become responsible members of local, national and global communities.
Studies indicate that the IB program is positively correlated to academic success in college. The program is geared for high-school juniors and seniors and provides students with the leadership skills necessary for success in the 21st century. In order to successfully complete the requirements for the IB diploma, each student must take three higher-level courses, three standard-level courses and successfully complete the components of the IB Core. For these reasons, you must opt into the full IB diploma program beginning your junior year.
Courses are defined as either HL or SL:
Higher Level (HL): typically taught over the course of two years
Standard Level (SL): typically one full year course and one half year course (meeting every other day)
The curriculum utilized to achieve these goals is based on what the IB calls “the hexagon model." It features six subject groups: language A, language B, individuals in society, experimental sciences, mathematics and the arts. It also features components unique to the program, known as the IB Core – a 4,000-word extended essay, a specialized course entitled Theory of Knowledge, and a public service element known as Creativity, Action, Service (CAS).
Learn more about the classes offered for each group in the "IB courses" section below on this page.
Diploma program students must complete the following over two years:
- A total of six IB courses: three Higher Level (HL) courses; three Standard Level (SL) courses
- An independent extended essay research paper
- Theory of Knowledge course (TOK) offered at Albany High over two years
- Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) – an average of three hours per week over the two years
IB courses and requirements
IB Extended Essay
The Extended Essay is a 4,000-word, in-depth study of a topic chosen from one of the subjects offered in the IB program. Its purpose is to acquaint the student with the type of independent research and writing skills expected by universities. Emphasis is placed on the process of formulating an appropriate research question, engaging in a personal exploration of a topic, communicating ideas and developing an argument.
IB CAS (Creativity, Action, Service)
CAS enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development by learning through experience. Students participate in community service activities alongside their academics. The most meaningful CAS experience comes from spending time with others to build relationships and to develop the self-worth of both server and served. The CAS coordinator will assist in the design and construction of all CAS schedules. The activities should be undertaken gradually, be appropriately adapted to the circumstances and take into account the student’s aptitude and preferences. Some type of commitment to one situation or organization for a length of time is recommended as well as smaller scale projects. The project concludes with a written reflection that provides evidence of learning outcomes.
IB Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is the core course of the IB experience. It is central to the educational philosophy of the diploma program, offering students and their teachers the opportunity to reflect critically on what knowledge is in various cultures and at various times. How we know what we know and how we learned it are central to the TOK experience. The following is from the IB course description booklet, “The stated aim of TOK is that students should become aware of the interpretive nature of knowledge, including personal and ideological biases, regardless of whether, ultimately, these biases are retained, revised, or rejected.” TOK encourages the intercultural understanding central to today’s globally interdependent world. The external assessment will be based on a 1,200- to 1,600- word essay written on a topic prescribed by IB. Internal assessments will be based on teacher-rated student presentations.
Advanced coursework FAQs
Advanced courses are designed to challenge and encourage higher-level thinking. Most advanced courses are comparable to college courses. You can develop intellectual skills and your own interests as you explore specific subject areas more deeply. Some of those skills are critical reading, data set analysis, synthesizing evidence to develop new insights and evaluating and solving problems. Your investment in any advanced course is sure to provide many returns.
Taking advanced courses provides you with additional learning opportunities. The courses give you the kind of background and preparation that will prove beneficial in your college courses or career. An advanced course exam grade shows your college or employer that you have learned college-level material and deserve credit and/or advanced placement for meeting that challenge.
Students need to be motivated to study and learn at the college level. If you are committed to participating actively in advanced courses and doing the out-of-class assignments, you have met a major prerequisite for success.
You should discuss your interest with your school counselor who will be able to advise you. The AP/IB coordinator can offer you information and guidance about all higher level courses at Albany High. Teachers and other students are sources of information as you consider higher level courses. Finally, you should also discuss the coursework with your parents.