International Baccalaureate

Country Day is proud to be the first private school in North Carolina to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program. Our small class sizes, dedicated faculty, and wide array of school resources are essential to successfully developing the intellectual and personal skills that the IB Diploma Program promises for students.

The IB Diploma Program is a two-year course of study for juniors and seniors.  It includes a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum, promotes international mindedness, develops research, writing, and thinking skills, and emphasizes reflection and growth. The IB Diploma Program is best suited to students who think critically, desire rigorous academics, and are committed to stretching themselves inside and outside the classroom. Students who successfully complete the IB Diploma program are very well prepared for college and have the opportunity to earn the internationally recognized IB Diploma in addition to their Country Day diploma.  

Who are IB Students?

For a student to have a valuable experience in the IB Diploma Program, he or she should be in the academic top third of the class and demonstrate personal values that align with the mission of IB. This 2018 IB graduate received the highly selective Morehead-Cain Scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill.

IB students perform in school productions and choral and instrumental groups, participate in cultural clubs, serve as editors on publications, lead the Coffeehouse talent show, and have won Scholastic Art Awards, like this Gold Key Winning Photo from a trip to Cuba.

IB students perform in school productions and choral and instrumental groups, participate in cultural clubs, serve as editors on publications, lead the Coffeehouse talent show, and have won Scholastic Art Awards.


Many IB students are two-season athletes or play on year-round club teams, have earned state championships and all-state player honors, serve as team captains, and are recruited to play at the collegiate level.  This 2018 IB graduate is playing lacrosse for Colby College.

IB students participate in Country Day international travel, global interest clubs, global service, and hosting of exchange students. This  2018 IB graduate initiated a service learning experience in Peru.

IB students serve as leaders in student government, as club presidents, as editors of The Hook (student publication), and leaders within the Diversity Awareness Forum, like this 2018 IB graduate.

IB students serve as campus leaders, like this student government representative, pictured with her Special Olympics buddy.  

Inside and outside of school, IB students serve others through activities such as Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors, Refugee Center volunteers, and talented musicians deeply engaged with Playing for Others, like this member of the IB Class of 2019.

Inside and outside of school, IB students serve others through activities that fuel their passions, like this state champion tennis player who also volunteers with Project Unify.

Explore More and Consider Applying

IB Core

Theory of Knowledge (TOK), the extended essay, and CAS form the core of the IB experience and are required of all diploma candidates worldwide. 

Theory of Knowledge 

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a required course for all diploma candidates and often one of their favorites. (Read this article to learn more.)

TOK is a course about critical thinking and inquiring into the process of knowing, rather than about learning a specific body of knowledge. The task of TOK is to emphasize connections between areas of knowledge and link them to the knower in such a way that the knower can become aware of his or her own perspectives and those of the various groups whose knowledge he or she shares. TOK, therefore, explores both the personal and shared aspects of knowledge and investigates the relationships between them.

Core TOK questions include:

  • What do I know?
  • How do I know it?
  • What happens when different people know different things? 

In TOK, we use knowledge questions (e.g., how do we judge what is the best model of X?) and the knowledge framework to study shared and personal knowledge, ways of knowing (e.g., emotion or sense perception), and areas of knowledge (e.g., the natural sciences). Other IB classes will often connect to TOK, as the TOK approach to knowledge is key to an IB education.

For more info on TOK, contact Tim Waples, TOK instructor.

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 are paired with a faculty mentor for guidance throughout the research and writing processes. A draft of the extended essay is completed during the junior year and then finalized during the senior year as part of the IB diploma requirements. Essays that score well can add "bonus points" towards the IB diploma.

The extended essay represents a core philosophy of IB education- the balance between high academic standards and student engagement.  While the project is extensive, it is owned by the students since they select their own topics and faculty mentors. 

Below is a list of recent extended essay titles:

"How does Jane Austen illustrate her thoughts on the ideal relationship between a man and a woman in her novel, Pride and Prejudice?"

"To what extent did the Cold War have its roots in the Grand Alliance of World War II?"

"In what ways did Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy influence the artists of Die Brucke?"

"How does gender affect the consolidation of memory during sleep in sixteen year-olds?"

For more info on the extended essay, contact Tim Waples, Extended Essay Coordinator.


Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)

The ultimate goal of CAS is to encourage personal growth outside the classroom through engaging in and reflecting upon meaningful experiences. CAS is organized as follows:
  1. Creativity—exploring and extending ideas leading to an original or interpretive product or performance
  2. Activity—physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle
  3. Service—collaborative and reciprocal engagement with the community in response to an authentic need

CAS enables students to demonstrate attributes of the IB learner profile in real and practical ways, to grow as unique individuals and to recognize their role in relation to others. Students develop skills, attitudes and dispositions through a variety of individual and group experiences that provide students with opportunities to explore their interests and express their passions, personalities and perspectives.

The CAS program formally begins at the start of the Diploma Program and continues for at least 18 months with a reasonable balance between creativity, activity, and service. All CAS students are expected to regularly contribute to  a CAS portfolio (through the Managebac website) that shows thoughtful completion of CAS experiences and meets the seven CAS learning outcomes: 

  1. Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth
  2. Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process
  3. Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience
  4. Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences
  5. Demonstrate the skills and recognize the benefits of working collaboratively
  6. Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
  7. Recognize and consider the ethics of choices and actions

For more details on the CAS program, contact Lee-Anne Black or Beatrice Eldredge, Co-CAS coordinators.

IB Curriclum

The IB emphasis on critical thinking, depth of learning, research, and writing skills underscores what is already occurring at Country Day. However, IB does have specific requirements for a "diploma candidate" that are outlined below.  

The IB curriculum is a comprehensive, two-year program for juniors and seniors. Students choose courses from the following subject groups: studies in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, and the arts. (Students may opt to study an additional sciences, individuals and societies, or languages course, instead of a course in the arts.) Students will take three or four courses at higher level (HL) and the remainder at standard level (SL). HL and SL courses differ in scope but are very similar in their approach. HL students are expected to demonstrate a greater body of knowledge, understanding and skills than SL students. Completing the IB Diploma Program will also fulfill Country Day graduation requirements.  

Below are typical schedules, but each prospective IB student will craft an individual schedule based on their experiences, graduation requirements, and academic strengths. While these are typical choices, there is flexibility beyond what is listed below.  Country Day currently offers over 25 IB courses.  For further information on IB courses or to see what an IB schedule looks like for you, contact Stewart Peery, IB Coordinator.

Typical Junior Year courses include:

  1. IB English 11
  2. Precalculus, Algebra III/Trig, or Calculus
  3. IB Chemistry or IB Biology
  4. IB World History
  5. French, Spanish, Latin, or Chinese (multiple levels available)
  6. Theory of Knowledge
  7. Free Period

Typical Senior Year courses include:

  1. IB English I2
  2. IB math course (dependent on junior year course and grade)
  3. IB Chemistry or IB Biology (if not completed during junior year)
  4. IB History of the Americas or US History
  5. French, Spanish, Latin, or Chinese (multiple levels available)
  6. IB "elective" such as Visual Art, Theatre, ITGS, or Psychology
  7. Free Period

IB Diploma

The ultimate goal of all IB Diploma students is to earn the prestigious IB Diploma. The IB Diploma is based on completion of the IB core and assessments from all IB courses and is awarded in July after Country Day graduation. Colleges and universities worldwide recognize earning the IB diploma as a significant achievement and may award college credit, placement, or financial compensation for IB coursework. IB Diploma recipients from Country Day have matriculated to fine colleges and universities (see the Preparing for College tab). 

The IB Diploma pass rate for Country Day students in the past five years is 84% (compared to the U.S. average of 68%). The Class of 2018 had a 100% pass rate.

Assessment in IB based on students meeting worldwide standards and involves both work carried out during IB courses and materials sent to IB examiners. Students are scored in each subject on a 1-7 scale (with 7 being the highest).  Mulitple assessments lead to a final score; for example, an IB English score is based on a major paper, a two-part exam, and two oral presentations. A minimum of 24 points is required to earn the IB diploma (subject to certain minimum levels of performance across the whole program). Students can also be awarded up to three additional points for their combined results on Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay. Colleges vary widely in their policies for credit and placement from IB courses, but generally speaking the majority of Country Day IB students earn either credit or placement in multiple subjects at the collegiate level.


How do I apply for IB?
Admission to our IB program occurs during the third quarter of sophomore year. The student application includes a short essay, their transcript, and teacher recommendations. An admissions committee consisting of IB faculty will consider all applications anonymously and release admissions decisions prior to Spring Break. See the "Applying to IB" tab for more information.

How many students choose IB?
Typically, about 20-30 students per grade or about 20-25%. There is not a set size for IB and the numbers do vary year-to-year.

Who is a "good fit" for IB?
Students who do well in IB are motivated to learn, have a strong work ethic, work well with their peers, and are already performing well in many academic areas.  Furthermore, students must have three academic areas where they can pursue Higher Level IB coursework.  English Higher Level is a mandatory requirement of IB at Country Day; there are additional Higher Level IB courses available in all disciplines. 

Do I only take IB classes?
No. During junior year only about half of your classes are IB and there is often room during senior year for non-IB classes. There will be some flexibility in your schedule.  If you are curious about what an IB schedule what would look like for you, reach out to Mr. Peery, IB Coordinator.

What classes should I take before my junior year?
Our Country Day curriculum in grades 9 and 10 does prepare students for all possible courses in grades 11 and 12 (college prep, honors, AP, or IB). There is not a specific "pre-IB" track but a challenging, well-rounded course of study is recommended.

Do colleges recognize IB?
Yes, colleges and universities worldwide respect students who successfully complete the IB Diploma Program.  IB alumni have both the knowledge and skills to succeed at the next the level.  Country Day IB alumni routinely matriculate to elite colleges and universities.  See the "Preparing for College" tab for more information.

Is there an additional cost for the IB program?
Country Day pays for the majority of costs associated with the program, however, students are asked to pay for their exams just as they are asked to pay for Advanced Placement exams. The full cost of IB exams is $886 for the May 2018 session.  Financial aid may be available for those who qualify.

What if IB is not for me?
A Country Day student has a rich array of choices including IB, AP, Honors, and college prep courses. Students should choose the academic program that best matches them and allows them to challenge themselves without being overwhelmed.

Preparing for College

IB students commonly report feeling well-equipped to engage and succeed in college coursework and are more comfortable and academically adjusted during their first year at university. Benefits that IB alumni cite include: motivation, work habits, organization, time management, high levels of academic self-concept, familiarity with an interest in research, the ability to take multiple perspectives, strong analytical writing and comfort with college level writing, deeper understanding of the structure of knowledge, large concepts and how content connects across disciplines.

“The IB Program built a foundation of critical thinking and problem solving that has been paramount to my success. I know what I took from my time in the program will continue to help me in my medical studies and in my career as a doctor.”

Abby Winn '10, MD candidate, School of Medicine; medical student researcher at VTC Research Institute

Teachers, administrators and university staff also report that IB students develop the traits needed to succeed in university to a greater extent than their non-IB peers.

American universities and colleges fully recognize and honor the IB Diploma Program; enrollment in the full IB Diploma Program is considered our most rigorous course of study.  The Diploma Program is also recognized by universities worldwide, opening additional opportunities for Country Day students. Country Day's recent IB Diploma recipients attend these fine institutions:

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Davidson College
  • Middlebury College
  • Duke University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of Southern California
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Colgate University
  • College of William & Mary
  • Northeastern University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Elon University
  • University of Richmond
  • Wake Forest University
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Furman University
  • University of Georgia
  • University of South Carolina
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • Washington and Lee University

Past IB graduates have also earned prestigious merit-based scholarships, including the Morehead-Cain (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Park (NC State) scholarships.

Applying to IB

How To Apply to IB

For a student to have a valuable experience in the IB Diploma Program, they must demonstrate academic readiness and personal values that align with the mission of IB. An application process exists to examine whether or not students are a "good fit" for IB. There is no cap for IB; all qualified students are admitted to the program.

Admission to our IB program occurs during the third quarter of sophomore year. The student application is comprised of three parts:

  1. One short essay written by the applicant
  2. The applicant's transcript
  3. Teacher recommendations (from all core academic areas and the advisor)

These components are reviewed anonymously by an admissions committee consisting of IB faculty.  Admissions decisions are released prior to Spring Break and come in three categories:

  1. Admission to IB (not binding- a student is not forced to pursue IB)
  2. Rejection (the student cannot pursue IB but can pursue other Country Day courses)
  3. Provisional admission: for students with IB potential but also some concerns.  The student will be registered as IB and the IB coordinator will re-evaluate the student in June to confirm admission to IB. (also not binding- a student is not forced to pursue IB) 

IB Program Application


-Early January: Mr. Peery visits all English 10 classes to discuss IB

-Feb. 1: Mr. Peery and IB students visit sophomore grade level

-Feb. 13, 7pm: IB Open House in Hance FAC Dance Room.  Attendance is strongly encouraged.

- March 4, 3:30pm: Student essays and teacher recommendations are due

-March 26: Admissions decisions are released via email

-March 28-29: Individual conferences with Mr. Peery for accepted and provisionally accepted applicants

-April 15: Deadline for accepted applicants to commit to IB

Contact Us

Stewart Peery
IB Diploma Program Coordinator
(704) 943-4617

Tim Waples
Extended Essay Coordinator, TOK Instructor 
Lee-Anne Black
Co-CAS Coordinator

Beatrice Eldredge
Co-CAS Coordinator