How Colleges May Recognize IB

  • Admissions

    Because it represents a comprehensive, well-rounded, and rigorous education that includes a course on critical thinking (ToK), community action (CAS), and a research component (EE), the IB Diploma Program can be an important factor in helping a student gain admission to his or her school of choice. Here is a small sampling of comments from the undergraduate admissions departments of Virginia universities:

    College of William and Mary
    “The rigor of the IB diploma meets our recommendation for the strongest high school preparation program possible.”

    University of Virginia
    “We assume that students pursuing a full IB Diploma are taking the toughest academic program available to them, and that is what the Committee on Admission wants to see.”

     Virginia Tech
    “Applicants certified as being candidates for the IB Diploma will be given high priority in the review for admission.”

    James Madison University
    “The university encourages the completion of the IB Diploma and will give special consideration for admission to students who have completed the IB program.”


    College Credit & Other Benefits

    In addition to admissions, there are three typical ways that universities may reward IB participation (depending on the IB scores the student earns):

    • college credit (actual credit for courses toward your bachelor’s degree)
    • skipping/bypassing basic classes or other general requirements (even if credits aren’t awarded)
    • honors standing

    -College Credit

    Every college or university has its own policy regarding the granting of credits for IB courses completed by students in high school. Some post-secondary schools grant more credit for this type of coursework than others.

    Just about all Virginia colleges offer credit for IB Higher Level (HL) courses. Some Virginia colleges do not offer credit for IB Standard Level (SL) courses, while others do.  More and more are, as they see how well-prepared IB students are for college coursework.

    It is possible to target college applications to schools that are the most generous in granting IB credit, if earning college credit is a priority.

    It is also possible that credit may be awarded even if it is not explicitly stated on a college's website; it's always best to call and ask as you're deciding where to apply, or at the very least inquire as you are planning your schedule with your academic adviser once you've been accepted.

    -Bypassing Classes or Other Requirements

    A student may be allowed to bypass introductory level courses based on completion of IB subjects, even if college credits are not awarded. Similarly, other general requirements (such a world language requirement) may be waived.

    These benefits are not always outlined in a university’s published credit equivalency policy. The student may have to inquire with the admissions office and/or registrar.

    -Honors Standing

    Some universities will grant “honors” standing or another special designation to IB students. Such designations can come with perks such as living in an honors dorm or being able to register for classes before the rest of the population at the university.

    How to Check a University’s IB Credit / Recognition Policy

    1. Make sure you know the IB classes offered at BPHS, and  make a list of the IB classes you are taking or wish to take. Make note of whether they are SL (standard level) or HL (higher level).
    2. Use a search engine such as Google to find the university’s undergraduate admissions web page.
    3. Locate the university’s transfer credit policy by either finding it in the page’s menu options or (more likely) by typing the words “IB recognition” or “IB credit” in the web page’s search box.
    4. Read through the university’s posted IB policy, making note of the IB courses for which they offer recognition and/or credit and the IB scores required to earn either.  Please note that, many posted policies are rather generic, and you can often get more detailed information about what IB scores are recognized by calling the admissions office directly.
    5. Make note of whether students in the full IB Diploma Program get any special advantages (some universities offer more credit or other benefits to students enrolled in the full program).