IB Diploma Program – Grades 11-12

 Magellan Upper School opening Fall ’24.
Limited enrollment.

High School and the IB

The International Baccalaureate framework is set up a bit differently than traditional schools. The Middle Years Program encompasses grades 6-10, while grades 11-12 are considered part of the Diploma Program. We are currently enrolling our first 9th grade class who would ultimately be the first class to graduate from the Magellan and the Diploma Program.

The IB Diploma Program (DP)

The IB Diploma Program is an academically challenging and balanced program that prepares students extremely well for success at the college level and beyond. It is respected by universities across the globe. IB Diploma students are characterized as highly motivated, confident, independent learners who are typically better able to cope with demanding workloads, manage their time, and meet the expectations placed on them than their peers. 

What are the benefits of the IB diploma program?

Research shows that DP IB Diploma students:

  • Are three times more likely to enroll at a top 20 higher education institution.
  • Are offered increased scholarship opportunities.
  • Present significantly higher levels of critical thinking.
  • Exhibit higher levels of global mindedness than peers their age.
  • Exhibit higher levels of interpersonal skills and perseverance.
  • Exhibit higher capacities for a variety of 21st-century skills compared to non-DP counterparts.

*NEW* Non-spanish speakers & IB Newbies welcome in grade 6 and 9

Magellan is now offering a flexible program where no Spanish or IB experience is required. New and current students will have the option of bi-lingual learning (50% of the day in Spanish) or to take all courses in English, in addition to an entry-level language class of their choice.

What do colleges have to say about IB Diploma grads?

What do students say about the IB Diploma experience

What do teachers say about the IB Diploma experience

One of the advantages of an IB curriculum is its structure and quality. It is a coordinated program, well established, well known and well respected. We know the quality of IB courses, and we think the IB curriculum is terrific.

Duke University Admissions

Success in an IB program correlates well with success at Harvard. We are always pleased to see the credentials of the IB Diploma Program on the transcript. GPA is not nearly as important a factor in university admission as the IB Diploma.

Harvard University Admissions

The Curriculum

The DP curriculum is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising theory of knowledge (TOK), creativity, activity, service (CAS) and the extended essay. Through the DP core, students reflect on the nature of knowledge, complete independent research and undertake a project that often involves community service. The IB has a highly reliable system of assessment that involves external grading of student work.

The 6 Subject Groups

There are different courses within each subject group. Students are required to take some subjects at a Higher Level and some at Standard Level.

Language acquisition

Individuals and societies


The Sciences

Studies in  Language & Literature


The Arts

The Diploma program (dp) Core

Through the Diploma Programme core, students reflect on the nature of knowledge, complete independent research, and undertake a project that often involves community service.

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

TOK provides an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. Mastery is assessed through an oral presentation and a 1,600 word essay. 

Extended Essay

The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper. It provides practical preparation for undergraduate research and an opportunity for students to investigate a topic of personal interest to them. This essay illustrates the students ability to explore, reflect on their knowledge and go further through inquiry to investigate a real world issue and develop an argument that provides answers to defend their position. 


Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)

The CAS program involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies including Arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking, Activity – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, and Service – an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student. CAS is not formally assessed, but is an essential counterbalance to the academic rigor program.

Assessment and Exams

Unlike other programs, a high percentage of student work is assessed and/or moderated by IB-appointed, external examiners who have no connection to the school. This is another reason why the IB has such a strong reputation. Most subjects, it should be noted, do include an internally assessed component that accounts for 30% – 40% of a student’s final mark.  All results are determined by performance against set standards that students are trained to meet over the course of two years. More details

General Skills
Analyzing and presenting information
Evaluating and constructing arguments
Solving problems creatively
Retaining knowledge
Understanding key concepts
Applying standard methods

Internal Assessment
Oral work in languages
Fieldwork in geography
Laboratory work in the sciences
Investigations in mathematics
Artistic performances

External Assessment
Structured problems
Short-response questions
Data-response questions
Text-response questions
Case-study questions

Quick Facts

Universities recognize it and give credit for it

The number of higher education institutions recognizing the Diploma Programme grew 21 per cent in 2011, backed by a proactive campaign of engagement, including a range of professional materials made available on the official IB website (www.ibo.org/recognition).

And IB students are at an advantage with elite institutions: in the US, IB graduates are 21.4 per cent more likely to be admitted into 10 of the country’s most prestigious universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford.

It offers academic breadth and depth

We know graduates do well. In 2011, figures from the UKs Higher Education Statistics Agency found that IB graduates were much more likely to be enrolled at one of the top 20 higher education institutions than entrants holding other qualifications. Studying six subjects means students aren’t forced to narrow their choices while still at school, and can keep university options open. That doesn’t come at the expense of academic rigor, though. IB Diploma Programme students follow three subjects at Higher Level, where they receive 240 teaching hours in each. And learning a second language has been linked in studies to a higher level of achievement at both school and university.

Graduates care about more than just results

The creativity, action, service (CAS) requirement in the Diploma Programme encourages experiential learning acquiring knowledge through direct experience. That could mean anything from building new homes in Africa to creating a newspaper for your local community. It gives students a perspective on the world, and the drive to plan their own activities and skills that help distinguish IB alumni in the university admissions process.

It creates independent learners who feel prepared

Every Diploma Programme graduate will have written an Extended Essay – an immersive research paper of up to 4,000 words that requires independent research and excellent organizational skills. A 2011 survey of university admissions staff undertaken by Cardiff University, UK found they valued the Extended Essay’s role in developing cognitive, research, writing and communication skills. Dr David Conley, Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership in the College of Education at the University of Oregon and founder of the Educational Policy Improvement Center, says the IB exceeds standards in critical thinking and research skills required for college-readiness. And many Extended Essays are presented at admissions interviews, to demonstrate student’s analytical skills. Perhaps all that college-readiness is why research by SRI International found the graduation rate for IB alumni after four and six years studying in US universities was higher than the national average.

It’s a genuinely international qualification

Major global challenges require global solutions and the Diploma Programme aims to balance local and national identity with an international mindset as part of its commitment to building a better future. Students learn to see the world from different cultural perspectives, while learning another language that will help them communicate with peers from different backgrounds. Like all IB programmes, the Diploma Programme aims to encourage students to become internationally minded people who recognize their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet. IB World Schools help students engage in inquiry, action, and reflection on locally and globally significant issues across the curriculum. And fittingly, the qualification is internationally benchmarked, allowing graduates to continue their studies anywhere in the world.

The IB encourages critical thinking

Students learn to look beyond the facts: to analyze sources, link one subject to another and question the consensus. Inquisitiveness and interpretation are among the key cognitive properties of an IB education: a 2012 study of Diploma Programme students in Chicago found strong academic skills, especially related to analytical writing. Leading thinkers such as Professor Howard Gardner have identified the ability to reflect and critique as vital to effective 21st century learners.

Time management and accountability skills are implicit

All that rigorous, independent study leads to vital organizational techniques that only become more important when students reach university. Good study habits create learners who hit the ground running in higher education. The 2012 Chicago study of Diploma Programme students found that they were able to set aside time for homework and resist going out with their friends when they needed to study.

It assesses more than examination techniques

Diploma Programme assessments are summative, largely taking place over the two years of the programme, focusing on what students have learned and their abilities, rather than what they haven’t learned or can’t do. Testing is rigorous, backed by high-level evidence and is based on performance against set standards. As well as helping give a true picture of student performance, it also assists universities in the admissions process with no grade inflation for more than 30 years, the Diploma Programme is a reliable and internationally consistent measure of academic excellence.


Subjects aren’t taught in isolation

One of the main differences between the Diploma Programme and other curricula is Theory of Knowledge (ToK) classes that encourage students to make connections between subjects and gain the skills they need to become critical thinkers and more effective learners, rather than simply repositories of knowledge. But ToK is only part of the picture: teachers in IB World Schools are encouraged to plan interdisciplinary classes. Seeing connections between subjects also helps prepare students for higher education studies, where learning is becoming less compartmentalized. 


And here are 10 more

The IB learner profile offers 10 qualities underpinning the Diploma Programme and the learners who embrace it. From open-minded to balanced, they form a framework for an international education that goes much deeper in meeting the needs of a changing world.