International Baccalaureate Program

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program is a two-year course of study for students in 11th and 12th grades. Students in the IB Diploma Program gain rigorous and balanced academic preparation, an ability to draw on knowledge and understanding of various cultures and histories, and the experience of learning how to think critically and apply what they have learned across disciplines.

The IB Diploma Program consists of the IB core curriculum and six distinct “groups” of study, listed below. At least three, but no more than four, are at the higher level (HL) and the remainder are at the standard level (SL). Course selection within IB is based on student interest, availability, and prerequisites. In most cases, IB students are in dedicated IB classes, and in certain disciplines, students continue in the regular departmental offerings.

There are no required “pre-IB” courses at Country Day, but completing some advanced/honors level courses during 9th and 10th grades is recommended. Interested students apply to the IB program during the 10th grade year.

Core IB Curriculum

IB Theory of Knowledge

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the IB Program
In this junior year course, IB students strive to develop their critical awareness of what they and others know and value. Students analyze “personal knowledge” and “shared knowledge,” observing the overlap and exchange between these categories. Students learn to ask and answer “knowledge questions” and use “the knowledge framework” to explore eight “ways of knowing” and eight “areas of knowledge.” Students are evaluated through class activities and discussion, textbook and parallel reading, oral presentations, regular informal journals and online writing.

Extended Essay

The Extended Essay is an in-depth study of a topic that culminates in a major research paper. Students choose their research topic from a wide variety of disciplines, and choose a faculty mentor for guidance throughout the essay-writing process. The extended essay is completed during the junior year and submitted to IB during the senior year as part of the IB diploma requirements.

Creativity, Action, & Service (CAS)

CAS is designed for students to be involved in learning experiences that occur outside of the classroom. Working with the CAS Coordinator, students chose long-term projects that must involve three general categories: Creativity, Action, and Service. Students maintain a Web site to log hours and discuss and reflect on these learning experiences. Seventy-five hours must be recorded by the end of the junior year, 120 hours must be recorded by the end of the senior fall semester, and 150 hours must be recorded by April 1 of senior year. IB seniors must also participate in an exit interview with the CAS Coordinator.

Groups of Study

Group I: Language & Literature

IB English 11

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the IB program
Required for all IB juniors, IB English 11 enables students to build on skills acquired in English 10 by continuing their experience of a broad range of genres, periods, and styles in literature, including world literature texts in translation. Over the two years of IB English, students typically study text by authors such as Ibsen, Fugard, Szymborska, Garcia Marquez, Allende, Shakespeare, King, Heaney, Hawthorne, Morrison, and Fitzgerald. IB assessments include a formal oral presentation on a text and a formal literary analysis of a world literature text studied in the course and an essay ultimately graded by external IB readers. Like their peers in other 11th grade English courses, IB 11 students complete an autobiography.

IB English 12

Prerequisite: IB English 11, enrollment in the IB program. Required for all IB seniors.
IB English 12 continues the work begun in IB English 11, with a focus on preparing students for a recorded oral examination and two written papers at the end of the year. Major assessments completed at the end of the senior year are scored by external IB readers. Over the two years of IB English, students typically study texts by authors such as Ibsen, Fugard, Szymborska, Garcia Marquez, Allende, Shakespeare, King, Heaney, Hawthorne, Morrison, and Fitzgerald.

Group 2: Language Acquisition

IB Languages study occurs at three possible levels. “Ab initio” is the most basic level and intended for students beginning a new language. Standard Level (SL) is for students with multiple years of experience with the language, and Higher Level (HL) is for high-performing students with multiple years of experience. Students in the IB program move within the language course curriculum for their area of study at the honors or regular level. Languages offered include: Latin, Chinese, German, French, and Spanish.

Group 3: Individuals & Societies

IB 20th Century World History SL  

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the IB Program
Required for all IB juniors, this course examines the twentieth century events and ideologies that shaped the “international system” of the twenty-first century. Specifically, students study the causes, practice, and effects of war in the twentieth century; the theoretical and political differences between single and multi-party states; decolonization of Africa, Asia, and Latin America; Stalinism and the Cold War. This course requires substantial written work.

IB History of the Americas HL

Prerequisite: IB 20th Century World History
This advanced course for IB seniors fulfills the Higher Level history requirements of the IB. The course emphasizes several topics in United States history, but also integrates topics emphasizing the experiences of other nations and peoples in the Americas. The reading and evaluation of primary sources is central to this course, and students learn how to evaluate and frame historical arguments.

IB Psychology SL

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the IB Program
An introductory course on the scientific study of human behavior, with some reference to animal studies. This course focuses on three levels of analysis in psychology: biological, cognitive, and sociocultural. Additionally, students are introduced to mental disorders and their treatment as they relate to these three levels. Several weeks are spent conducting a replication of a published experiment in psychology.

IB Information Technology in a Global Society

Prerequisite: B in History or B in Introduction to Computer Science; open to students in grades 11 and 12; this course is open to non-IB students.
The Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS) course is the study and evaluation of the impact of information technology on individuals and society. It explores the advantages and disadvantages of the access and use of digitized information at the local and global level. ITGS provides a framework for students to make informed judgments and decisions about the use of IT within social contexts. ITGS involves the study of Information Systems as well as social and ethical considerations.

Group 4: Sciences

IB Biology SL

Prerequisite: Chemistry I/Honors Chemistry, enrollment in the IB program
IB students who wish to study biology as a Standard Level (SL) course take IB Biology during the junior or senior year. This course covers core curriculum topics: biochemistry, cellular processes, genetics, biotechnology, evolution, ecology, and human physiology. Students perform 40 hours of lab activities, some of which occur outside of class.

IB Biology HL

Prerequisite: IB Biology SL, enrollment in the IB program.
IB students who wish to study biology as a Higher Level course take IB Biology SL during the junior year and an additional semester of biology during the fall of senior year. The core topics from junior year are covered in greater depth and additional topics (such as other human systems and plant biology) are introduced. Students also complete an additional 20 hours of lab work, some of which occur outside of class.

IB Chemistry SL

Prerequisite: Chemistry I/Honors Chemistry I, enrollment in the IB program
IB students who wish to study chemistry as a Standard Level course take IB Chemistry during their junior or senior year. The course covers core curriculum topics: stoichiometry, atomic theory, periodicity, bonding, states of matter, energetics, kinetics, equilibrium, REDOX reactions, and organic chemistry. Emphasis is placed on the development of understanding of the chemical concepts and the application of these concepts to novel situations. Assessments are of the IB style, using IB questions and grading schemes. Students perform a minimum of 40 hours of laboratory activities, some of which occur outside of class.

Group 5: Mathematics

Eleventh grade students in the IB diploma program follow within the math course curriculum. In the 12th grade, they choose one of the following options based on their math performance.

IB Math Studies SL

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the IB program, completion of Algebra III or higher in 11th grade
This course covers topics on the IB exam not presented in previous courses, including statistics, probability, differential calculus, logic, sets, Venn diagrams, sequence and series, financial mathematics, and other minor topics.

IB Calculus

Prerequisite: Qualifying grade average from Pre-calculus or honors Pre-calculus
This course covers differential and integral calculus with applications for select functions. It also includes selected topics in statistics, probability, and vectors. Students chose a topic and conduct a mathematical exploration paper during the first semester which is used as the IB internal assessment.

Calculus III/Math HL

Prerequisite: AP Calculus (AB or BC). This course is also open to non-IB students.
Calculus topics with IB Higher Level topics include vectors, probability and statistics, matrices, higher level differential equations and integration methods, complex numbers, lines and planes in three dimensions, and mathematical induction. Student-selected options include advanced statistics, set/group theory, number theory, graph theory, and multivariable calculus topics.

Group 6: Fine Arts

Completing IB subjects in Groups 1–5 is mandatory, but pursuing Group 6 is optional. IB students may take additional subjects from Groups 2, 3, or 4 rather than pursuing the fine arts.

IB Art I

Prerequisite: Completion of level II in any visual art and enrollment in the IB program
IB Art is designed to expose students to artistic traditions from around the world while allowing them to develop a personal visual art statement contained in a portfolio and research workbook. Students are expected to incorporate acquired skills in a variety of media and methods, apply critical thinking and problem solving skills, and develop works with imagination and creativity. Art History, criticism, and aesthetics are an integral part of the curriculum.


Prerequisite: IB Art I
This course continues the work started in IB Art I and culminates with an exhibit of student work.

IB Theatre Arts I

Prerequisite: Acting Concepts AND Involvement (onstage or backstage) in one or more Upper School theatre productions; enrollment in the IB program
This course is designed to introduce students to theatre history, play analysis, and play production. Students explore past and present theatrical styles, artists, and conventions, including how different cultures value theatre as an art form. Students participate in class projects and productions, and at least one of the extracurricular Country Day productions.

IB Theatre Arts II

Prerequisite: IB Theatre Arts I
This semester course is the culmination of the IB Theatre Arts curriculum. After participating in productions in Theatre Arts I, students analyze the learning that occurred during the process. In addition, students create their own show to demonstrate the theatre skills they have acquired.