Some students who are considering to start the IB or are in their first year may be wondering, “Is the IB full Diploma really worth it?”. An option for you may be to consider getting the IB Certificate instead. Here are some factors which you may want to consider before making that decision.

1. What is the IB Certificate?

The IB Certificate allows you to freely take IB classes and receive a certificate of completion for each individual subject that you have passed, without being enrolled in the full IB curriculum. Basically, it means that the subjects you are interested in studying happen to be within the IB curriculum, but you can also mix and take regular classes offered at your school. There is no regulation about how many “Higher Level” and “Standard Level” IB classes you have to take. Therefore, if you prefer, it is possible to take all IB courses at “Standard Level”. You also wouldn’t have to work on the Exteneded Essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (TOK), or CAS like the full diploma students.

2. Whats are the similarities and differences between the IB Certificate and the IB Diploma?

2.1 You graduate with different qualifications.

The full diploma is an international university admission qualification, which allows you to apply to various universities mainly in Europe, Canada, Australia, and some universities in other countries like the US and Japan. Some universities will have a minimum IB grade, while others will allow students with any scores to apply.

On the other hand, the Certificate only gives proof of completion for the specific subject that you have taken. This is useful when a university requires a certificate of a specific subject in the IB curriculum such as “Chemistry Higher Level” for a Science major. However, it does the not qualify for college admission so you may need to submit other documents like your transcript and admission test scores (ex. SAT, GCSE, TOEFL, etc) to support your application.

2.2 Course requirements are different.

There are detailed registration requirements to obtain the Diploma. You are required to take 1 course from each of the 6 subject groups in the IB curriculum. Of the 6 subjects taken, 3 or more must be taken at Higher Level (HL).

In addition to the 6 subjects, students need to complete the “Core”. The Core consists of three components, a philosophy course called “Theory of Knowledge” (TOK), an in-depth research paper called the “Extended Essay” (EE), and participation in extracurricular activities which is called “CAS” (Creativity, Activity, Service).

On the other hand, the Certificate does not have the above requirements because you will receive a certificate of completion of a specific subject.

2.3 The exams are the same.

Although the qualifications are different, those who take the Certificate will take the same classes as Diploma (DP) students, and the assignments and exams within each subject are the same. Therefore, in terms of your class schedule, life at school will be the same which ever option you choose.

However, since the curriculum requires you to complete many assignments that take time to prepare, full Diploma students may need to be more organized with their schedule outside of claases throughout the 2 years in order to complete all required assignments.

3. Pros and Cons of the IB Certificate

Pro: Efficient if you’re aiming for a university that doesn’t require the IB

Unlike the Diploma where you are required to take HL courses and complete TOK, EE and CAS, the Certificate has much easier requirements, and you can get a certificate of completion by subject. Therefore, if the university you are aiming for does not require a full Dipoma, or only requests completion of certain subjects, the Certificate may be more efficient and less time consuming for you.

Con: You don’t get the full experience of the IB program

The disadvantage of the Certificate is not being able to get the full experience of the IB Diploma, which will give you the opportunity to face a bigger challenge and ultimately lead to personal growth.

The IB is a highly trusted educational program recognized by universities around the world. The full Diploma is known for its well balanced selection of 6-7 subjects which students themselves can choose themselves, the Core subjects (the EE, TOK, and CAS) which gives you a rare and valuable opportunity to write research papers (already in high school!),

Through this rigorous program, students have a chance to not only develop their academic ability, but also their personal skills such as team work, good worth ethic and time managagement, which will surely be beneficial in their university life and in their future careers.

4. Conclusion

At the end of the day, It’s a personal choice which path you would like to take, the IB Certificate or the IB Diploma. The IB is not a requirement but simply an academic program that ensures you the best well-rounded education, which may also give you a “leverage” when applying to some universities. Therefore, It is Important to check the requirements of each university that you are planning to apply to, and also think about your personality and your future goals, in order to find what best fits your needs.