International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program

IB at the Lab School

Information about the IB program at U-High can also be found in the information booklet and the program overview.

IB Framework

The Diploma Program at University Laboratory School operates under the authority of the Lab School following the guidelines set forth by the International Baccalaureate Organization. To be eligible for the IB Diploma, a student must meet the minimum requirements, which include the following: 

  • one course from each of the six required subject fields during the two years of the Diploma Program. Of these, at least three and not more than four subjects must be taken at the higher level (HL) and the others at standard level (SL)

  • Theory of Knowledge course

  • 150 hours of Creativity, Action, and Service (see CAS)

  • extended essay of approximately 4,000 words. The extended essay is an original piece of research and writing on a topic of interest to the student which is approved by the IBO

  • maintenance of good academic and disciplinary standing at the Laboratory School

  • satisfactory scores on the examinations for the diploma. (see The Examinations)

Our IB Curriculum

Working within these guidelines, the faculty has prepared an IB curriculum that allows many of our students to secure the Diploma. Those with special circumstances or talents are urged to speak to their guidance counselor in their tenth-grade year to ensure that their IB progression is a smooth one.

One of the objectives of the program is to produce the well-rounded student so that the mathematically talented must also succeed in the humanities and vice-versa. Still, there are options in the curriculum which students and their parents should study carefully before they submit their two-year IB plans in the tenth grade. Those options are listed below. Diploma candidates must choose ONE course from each of the six groups, and they must take at least THREE of these courses at the higher level (HL). They must also take the junior level Theory of Knowledge course and fulfill CAS and extended essay requirements. Within this framework they may exercise some choice. Please note that only advanced language students may choose HL group two courses and only after consultation with their foreign language teachers and the IB Coordinator. Students interested in taking the group six visual arts class at the higher level must be recommended by their art teacher. In putting together their two-year plan, students should also note that Geography SL, Environmental Systems SL, Economics SL, Information Technology in a Global Society, and Music Theory are one-year courses. Any of these may be taken in either the junior or senior year. Students may schedule a non-IB elective, a study hall or service option, or a senior privilege during their eighth hour.

The Extended Essay

The extended essay plays a critical role in the overall diploma program. IB students must sign an extended essay plan and calendar as a part of their IB planning, pledging to successfully complete the essay. This involves the research and preparation of an original 4,000-word research paper under the guidance of a three-person faculty committee. The extended essay both instructs and tests that ability. As in all IB work, the production of the essay will be carefully monitored and assisted by the faculty, but the product will come from the mind of the student.

Students were exposed to the essentials of inquiry in their earlier courses, and taught essential research and analytic writing skills. They must choose a subject area for their extended essay by March 31 of their junior year. Students select their extended essay subject advisors from the faculty in the spring of the 11th grade. At least two of these advisors should be Lab School faculty; a third may be an outside expert from the University or community. Students should plan to meet with their advisors frequently during the second semester of the junior year and first semester of their senior year to review research and writing progress. Because the extended essay advisor will also serve as a contact with the IB program, he/she will also monitor overall academic progress. Students are encouraged to go to their advisor not only to stay on track in their research but also to be guided in the successful progression through the IB program in general. They should also consider the IB Coordinator to be an advisor in all areas pertinent to the program at the Lab School.

To make sure they stay on track, students and their advisors will set deadlines for completion of the major components of the extended essay (See Calendar) Although other deadlines may be necessary depending on the topic and student, minimum deadlines will include the following : annotated preliminary bibliography, thesis and preliminary outline, and abstract and introduction. Regardless of the deadlines agreed upon by advisors and their students, the school deadline for completion of the final paper is the first day of the second semester of the senior year.

Course Students

The IB Diploma Program derives its power from its interlinking components as listed above. Academically capable students are strongly urged to participate in the entire program. But some students may demonstrate a particular talent or interest in only one curricular area, or may not find it possible to enroll for the diploma for personal reasons. These students are urged to consider certificate status in individual IB classes. Course students are those who choose one or more IB courses without committing to the entire program. Advantages of this status include the richer educational value of IB courses, the community of dedicated students who choose such courses, an enhanced GPA awarded for grades of "A"' "B", "C", and the opportunity to earn advanced college credit for successful performance on IB examinations (advanced standing is awarded by individual universities, and is generally not given for SL courses). All course students in higher level (HL) courses are required to take subject area examinations in their IB courses. Students enrolled in standard level courses may elect to take IB external examinations. Those students who elect not to take the official IB examinations in SL courses will be given an IB-formatted final examination by their teachers.


A central goal of the IB is to encourage international understanding as well as to produce the finest education to international standards. To that end, the Laboratory School will emphasize international awareness and tolerance as a central goal of the program. This will be accomplished by an increasing number of activities and emphases both in and out of the classroom:
A K-12 second language program;
An emphasis on international literature in English classes;
An emphasis on Oriental art in art/design classes;
School pairings with overseas IB schools;
International travel to Mexico, Spain, Canada, and France;
Participation through CAS in University and community celebrations of internationalism;
An emphasis on bio diversity and environmentalism through science courses.