Why the IB opens doors for top US & Canadian schools

SISD is a proud advocate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, a globally recognised, standard academic programme. Which is run by an independent not-for-profit organisation, the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO).

The IB programme is continually growing in popularity, and in this blog we’ll talk about why it can enhance your child’s access to top US and Canadian universities.


IB demonstrates breadth of knowledge

The IB education requires students at age 16 to pick subjects across six academic disciplines if they’re preparing for university. The IB programme can be up to double the coursework of a standard secondary school’s curriculum. Moreover, it requires independent study and self-discipline. It’s unofficially accepted as “college standard” curriculum in the US. That being said, some schools may have specific admissions policies and guidelines for IB students.

One of the advantages of an IB curriculum is its structure and quality,” said Christoph Guttentag, director of undergraduate admission at Duke University. He continued: “It is a coordinated programme, well established, well known and well respected. We know the quality of IB courses, and we think the IB curriculum is terrific.”

The IB curriculum provides students with a well-rounded liberal arts perspective. This is highly sought after in the admissions departments of North American universities. At university, students have two years to explore a wide range of courses before deciding on their major or specialisation. This intellectual exploration that post-secondary schools encourage is similar to what students experience in the IB programme.

All US universities accept the IB Diploma (IBDP) and know about its requirements and value. Most US universities will offer course credit for IB courses, and many offer college credit for high exam scores on Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Some may also give credit for A-levels. This allows freshmen students to skip the basic freshman 500-person survey course taught by a graduate student. This can also allow students to cut their expenses and save up to one semester of tuition. Granted they have enough credits to skip 3 or 4 of the total courses required.

“IB is well known to us for excellent preparations. Success in an IB programme correlates well with success at Harvard,” said Marilyn McGrath Lewis, director of undergraduate admission at Harvard University. She continued: “We are always pleased to see the credentials of the IB Diploma Programme on the transcript.”


IB challenges students

It is important for students to have a specific, recognised programme in secondary schoool. Otherwise, it isn’t easy for admissions staff at universities to interpret their academic journey. This applies even if a student achieved good marks throughout high school. Indeed, admissions staff don’t know what was required of the student to achieve those grades.

Students need a mix of at least sixes and sevens in their subjects for a good shot at college admission. A score of at least 36 makes a student a more competitive candidate academically. Although non-academic factors also play a role in admissions. If the student’s score is below 36, the application should be exceptional to compensate for a lower score.

When admissions officers see the IBDP on a student’s application, it allows them to draw some conclusions. They immediately get a picture of the student and an insight into their character. Because of the IBDP programme requirements, they know students have worked hard and aren’t afraid of challenges. This also means that they understand the rigour of the IB programme. Finally, they know the consistent work and dedication it takes to come out of the DP with a good score.

Some universities even say outright that they hold IB applicants in higher stead. We know our students aren’t afraid of a challenge, as they even responded well to blended learning during the pandemic.

According to the IBO, feedback collected from a wide range of IB graduates suggests that they have an easier time adjusting to university studies.


IB creates well-rounded students

At SISD, we prepare students not just for a successful career, but for a thriving life as a global citizen.

“It is the ‘best’ high school prep curriculum an American school can offer,” said Marilee Jones, director of undergraduate admission at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We’ve talked many times in past blogs about how the IB programme’s 10 attributes create well-rounded students. The programme ensures students show achievement not only academically, but also outside of their studies. Students develop soft skills in the IB programme, which are more important than ever in the workplace.

North American universities favour community involvement, impactful projects, and leadership and research skills. All of which are built into the IB curriculum.


At SISD, we know that the IB programme is not only a door opener for students wanting to go to North American universities. It also equips them with the best skills possible in this post-pandemic world. For more information about IB programmes, contact our Admissions team at admissions@sisd.ae.

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