IB Diploma Programme Subject Areas and Courses

The Diploma Programme model

The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is a rigorous, academically challenging and balanced programme of education designed to prepare students aged 16 to 19 for success at university and in life. The DP aims to encourage students to be knowledgeable, inquiring, caring, open-minded and to develop intercultural understanding and the attitudes necessary to appreciate a range of viewpoints.

The DP provides the opportunity to develop both disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge that meets the rigorous standards set by institutions of higher learning around the world.

To ensure both breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding, students choose courses from the following subject groups: studies in language and literature; language acquisition; individuals and societies; sciences; mathematics; and the arts. Most subjects may be taken at either standard level (SL) or higher level (HL).

To earn the full diploma a student must take at least three subjects at HL. In addition, three core elements—the extended essay, theory of knowledge and creativity, activity, service—are compulsory and central to the philosophy of the programme.


Globally, IB STEM courses are the most popular with students. The science and math that we do in IB mirrors the types of real-world math and science problems people in the research and applied mathematics fields do. The Group 4 scientific disciplines to work collaboratively to solve a community problem.


IB Theater Arts and IB Visual Arts offer students an opportunity to learn new skills and applications in their creative fields. Theater students write, perform, and stage manage productions. Visual arts students create thematic studio art and mount their own show.


One of the most important aspects of a liberal arts education is the skill of thinking deeply and critically about topics. IB Humanities course are theme-based, rather than date and fact based, and focus on recognizing how the bigger picture, globally, impacts both our past and future.

ib DP core: theory of knowledge, extended essay, and creativity, action, and service (cas)                                                                                                                                                                                  


Literature and Language

individuals and societies



THE ARTS                              



Planning your Full IB Diploma Schedule at Fitch


  • You need 6 DP courses, plus TOK for a full diploma load.
  • You must take an English, World Language, Science, Social Studies, and Math course.
  • You will also choose an elective.
  • 3 of your courses must be HL and 3 must be SL
  • You can only take 4 HL classes at most
  • You must take TOK
  • An elective can be an extra class from Science, Individuals and Societies, or Visual and Performing Arts
  • All courses are 2-year and 2-credit courses unless designated otherwise
  • Courses listed in violet text are pending Board of Education approval process for 2020-2021
  • Courses listed with an asterisk have pre-requisites – see Program of Studies


The nature of HL and SL courses

It is essential for any pre university education to equip students with the depth of discipline-specific knowledge and skills that they will need for their chosen academic and career paths. However, this must be balanced with the breadth needed to develop well-rounded students who can draw connections between the different disciplines.

As such, the philosophy of the IB DP is that students should engage with a range of subjects while being able to explore specific areas of personal interest in greater depth. SL courses ensure students are exposed to a range of disciplines that they might otherwise opt out of, and HL courses allow students to spend more time with subjects they are more interested in by exploring options in addition to the SL core curriculum. In this sense, all DP courses, regardless of whether they are SL or HL, are integral to the programme.



Curriculum and assessment

Both SL and HL courses are meant to span the two years of the DP. SL courses are recommended to have at least 150 hours of instructional time, and HL courses are recommended to have at least 240 instructional hours.

In most cases both SL and HL courses consist of the same educational aims, core syllabus and curriculum and assessment models. HL courses typically also include a range of additional elements designed to allow students to explore areas of interest within the subject in more depth. In this sense, SL courses are not watered down versions of their HL counterparts. The assessment criteria are equally demanding for both levels, and SL exams are marked and standardized with the same rigour as all IB coursework.