Diploma Program

The IB Diploma Program (DP) is designed as an academically challenging and balanced program of education with final examinations that prepares students, normally aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. The program is taught over two years (grades 11 & 12) and has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.

The DP is not meant just for the academically elite student. Motivated, committed, conscientious, and academically ambitious students should be successful in the IB DP. Good organizational & time management skills, good math & reading/comprehension skills and having resiliency should make for a successful student in the IB DP.

IB Diploma Program students study six courses. Three of the courses must be studied at higher level (HL) and three courses must be studied at standard level (SL). Standard Level courses have 150 hours of instructional time and are taught over two full semesters. Higher Level courses have 240 hours of instructional time and are taught over three full semesters. Traditional, non-IB courses in Nova Scotia have 110 hours of instructional time.

Students must choose one subject from each of groups 1 to 5, thus ensuring breadth of experience in languages, social studies, the experimental sciences and mathematics. The sixth subject may be an arts subject chosen from group 6, or the student may choose another subject from groups 1 to 5.


What is really unique to the DP and has no public school programming equivalent are three IB core requirements that are included to broaden the educational experience and challenge students to apply their knowledge and understanding beyond a set curriculum. University admission officers note that students “stand out” because of the following core requirements:

The extended essay (EE) is a requirement for students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a personal research question relating to one of the subjects they are studying. The EE is a very effective way to introduce students to writing longer, self-driven research papers expected at the university level. There is no equivalent to the EE in non-IB public school courses. This 4000 word research essay is worked on during grades 11 and 12. [see the “Press” link at left for more info]

Theory of knowledge (TOK) is a course designed to encourage each student to reflect on the nature of knowledge by critically examining different ways of knowing (ex: perception, emotion, language and reason) and different kinds of knowledge (ex: scientific, artistic, mathematical and historical). TOK encourages students to make connections between their subjects and to engage with difficult questions that focus on the quality of justification and balanced approach to the knowledge claim(s) in question. It is not about being “right” or “wrong”.
[see the “Press” link at left for more info]

Creativity, activity, service (CAS) requires that students actively learn from the experience of doing real tasks beyond the classroom. Students can combine all three components or do activities related to each one of them separately. While much of a students’ academic life is determined by the curriculum, the implicit value of CAS goes well beyond the academics by providing a rare opportunity. In CAS, you decide what you want to discover about yourself and the world around you, through experiential learning! You take charge of what you learn, and plan your own approach through CAS. It is a safe environment in which to challenge yourself, stretch your own perceived limits, and explore your own perspectives and values. In addition, CAS gives you the opportunity to give back to and learn about your local or global community by getting involved. There is intrinsic value in contributing to community via volunteer work. It fosters a sense of community…a sense of place. It promotes a healthy perspective of citizenship. Although there is no grade awarded for the successful completion of CAS, it is a requirement for the award of the IB Diploma. Thinking globally and acting locally is in the true spirit of CAS.
[see the “Press” link at left for more info]

Students take written examinations at the end of the program, which are marked by external IB examiners. Students also complete assessment tasks in the school, which are either initially marked by teachers and then moderated by external moderators or sent directly to external examiners.

The IB diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance across the whole program and to satisfactory participation in the creativity, action, service (CAS) requirement. The highest total that a Diploma Program student can be awarded is 45 points.