IB and College Admissions

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In this section you will find

Research says:

University of Tulsa just released the following statistics from entry 2002:

  • 25 IB diploma candidates arrived

  • 23 had earned the dip.  

  • 5 of the 23 earned 4.0

  • 11 earned 3.5 or higher

  •  Average of all first year students  2.8

  • Avergea of first year IB students:             3.6 +
The University of Florida surveyed students studying Chemistry, Mathematics and English in 1997. Of the 58.3% of students that scored a "B" or higher in Chemistry, 91.7% of the students were IB students. In other subjects it was found that the results of IB students were consistently higher than the results of other students.
Virginia Tech surveyed a large sample of students - 3688 students that were non-IB students, 647 students that has studied AP courses, and 100 IB students. They focused on the percentage of students that obtained a GPA above 3.0 after four semesters. Non-IB: 33%, AP: 41%, IB: 88%. In the summary sent to schools, Virginia Tech concluded that student performance indicated that important positive attitudes toward learning are developed at high schools offering the IB program.
The University of Pennsylvania surveyed "highly" and "most selective" American universities in 1990 and 59% said that they gave preference to full IB Diploma students.
Many U.S. schools have stated that results and attitude toward learning have actually increased from non-IB students since the IB program was introduced into the schools.
From the data collected from 12 competitive universities in the U.S.A., "results indicate that the IB experience contributed to university success..." the survey indicated that IB favorably impacted on (i) understanding of complex assignments (91%), (ii) working independently (88%), (iii) working cooperatively (65%) and (iv) organizing time (91%).

Universities that offer scholarships to IB diploma holders:

Keep in mind the following:

• The scholarships vary in size. Some are modest; others are substantial. Please check universities’ web sites and contact university officials for more detailed information about a particular scholarship.

• The IB diploma is recognized by 1,709 universities worldwide. These universities, including those that do not offer scholarships for IB students, often look favourably on applications from IB graduates. They may offer other types of scholarships for which IB graduates are encouraged to apply.

• In many cases, universities with low tuition fees do not offer scholarships of any type because financial assistance is unnecessary. However, they may recognize the IB diploma and even be particularly interested in IB students.

• The following list is not exhaustive and is regularly revised as new information is received from universities.

• The IBO nor ECA does not in any way endorse the universities listed below.

DeVry Institute of Technology, Alberta
Memorial University, Newfoundland
University of Alberta
University of Calgary, Alberta
Red Deer College, Alberta
Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
University of British Columbia
University of Manitoba, Manitoba
University of Toronto, Ontariao
University of Winnipeg, Manitoba
York University, Ontario

United Kingdom
Richmond College, the American International University, London
University of Bath
University of Reading
University of Sheffield

United States
Eckerd College, Florida
Florida Atlantic University Honors College
Florida Gulf Coast University
Midwestern State University, Texas
New College of Florida
Oregon State University
St. Mary's University, Texas

Savannagh College of Art and Design
University of Florida (for IB diploma holders from United World Colleges)
University of North Florida
University of Kansas
University of Tampa, Florida
University of Tulsa, Oklahoma
Winthrop University, South Carolina


The 65 Universities in North America Receiving the Most IB Transcripts

May 2002

University of Florida 940

University of Alberta 698

University of British Columbia 608

McGill University 508

University of Toronto 490

Queen’s University 318

Florida State University 239

University of California – Berkeley 222

University of Central Florida 218

University of Virginia 216

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University 208

University of Texas – Austin 181

University of California – Los Angeles 178

George Mason University 174

Simon Fraser University 167

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill 165

University of Western Ontario 152

University of Washington 151

University of Colorado – Boulder 150

Boston University 149

University of Calgary 147

University of Southern California 147

University of Miami 142

New York University 132

University of Waterloo 132

University of California – San Diego 130

University of California – Irvine 125

University of Michigan 121

James Madison 120

Cornell University 118

College of William and Mary 114

Stanford University 107

Concordia University 105

University of California – Santa Barbara 105

Harvard & Radcliffe Colleges 102

University of Pennsylvania 95

Duke University 94

Georgia Ins titute of Technology 93

University of Maryland – College Park 92

University of Wisconsin – Madison 89

Virginia Commonwealth University 89

University of South Florida 88

University of Manitoba 87

Northwestern University 84

Arizona State University 80

University of Arizona 80

University of California – Davis 78

Emory University 72

George Washington University 72

University of Chicago 72

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities 72

Colorado State University 70

University of Winnipeg 67

Tufts University 65

Johns Hopkins University 64

North Carolina State University 64

Mary Washington College 63

McMaster University 63

Princeton University 63

University of California – Santa Cruz 63

Yale University 63

Brown University 62

University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign 61

Pennsylvania State University 60

University of Georgia 59

The International Baccalaureate:
Views from Selected American Universities
Cliff Sjogren and Elizabeth G. Vermey

            For students headed for an American college or university, one of the advantages of taking an International Baccalaureate course, or better yet a full International Baccalaureate diploma, is that they can receive college credit for their work in an International Baccalaureate course.  The following statements issued by the Directors of Admissions at the University of Michigan and Bryn Mawr College are indicative of most American universities’ respect for the caliber of the students who complete International Baccalaureate Programs.


The University of Michigan
Cliff Sjogren

            The best predictor of academic success at Michigan is previous academic performance.  Students who elect and satisfy the standards of a rigorous and demanding academic program in high school are the ones best suited to benefit from the intellectual environment and the Univer­sity.  A transcript that reveals a student’s enroll­ment in International Baccalaureate courses serves notice to the admissions officer that the applicant is someone who accepts rather than avoids educational challenges.  Further, a successful International Baccalaureate student will enroll at Michigan with some advantages over students who have taken less intensive programs.  The educational sophistication that students develop through an experience in an International Baccalaureate Program will serve them well at Michigan and other institutions that attract serious students.  Other advantages include an increased degree of self-confidence that comes from classroom experience with college-level academic material, a sharing of intellectual activities with the best students of the school, better time management, more experience with independent study, and a unique experience in ‘learning how to learn” through the Theory of Knowledge” course.  Of course, the fact that the International Baccalaureate is a world examination with near universal recognition can mean additional benefits for the internationally orientedyoung scholar.

            Secondary schools also benefit from their sponsorship of the International Baccalaureate.  The quality of the school from which the applicant graduates is a factor in admissions decisions at the University of Michigan.  A major criterion in the assessment of a school’s quality is the level and quality of courses that are offered to the college bound population.  Above-average grades in a very good school are looked at more favorably than superior grades at a mediocre school.  Unquestionably, a school that graduates each year a number of students with International Baccalaureate diplomas has demonstrated its commitment to high educational standards and that commitment will serve to influence admissions decisions at the University of Michigan.

            The International Baccalaureate program is uniquely designed to serve intelligent, serious students and progressive secondary schools that seek to create or maintain high educational standards.  The University of Michigan is proud to be an active participant in International Baccalaureate activities with these students and their schools.

How much credit for an International Baccalaureate course?

The University of Michigan’s Guidelines

IB Subject      IB Grade*  Credit Awarded
Biology  4 5
  5 6
Chemistry   4 4
  5 or above 5
English 5 3
  6 or 7 6
History 5 or above 4
Mathematics 4 or above 8
Physics 4 4
  5 or above 8
Foreign Language 4 or above 3-12


IB grading is based on a scale of 1 - 7:

1:  very poor   2:  poor      3:  mediocre  4:  satisfactory
5:  good   6:  very good 7:  excellent  
* for Higher Level courses


Bryn Mawr College

Elizabeth Vermey

            We have been admitting students with the International Baccalaureate diploma for a decade now (our first entered from Iranzamin in 1975) and have found them to be superbly prepared for Bryn Mawr.  Perhaps that is because what we attempt to do here in the first year or two of college--to develop competency in writing, in mathematics and in foreign language, and to give students a sound introduction the to liberal arts (humanities, social science and laboratory science) --coincides with the aims of the International Baccalaureate curriculum.  What makes the International Baccalaureate different from other university entrance credentials is that it manages to achieve all of a number of different goals: it insures breadth (through the distribution requirement), provides coherence (through the theory of knowledge requirement), teaches writing, analytical and research skills far beyond what is usually asked of a student in high school (through the extended essay) and demands that the student transcend his narrow national/cultural perspective (through the language B requirement).
            Because the International Baccalaureate jibes so well with our own faculty’s idea of a liberal arts curriculum, we decided early on to offer a full year’s credit to any student who came to us with a score of 30 or above on the full diploma.  We had already been given college credit for high grades on individual Higher Level exams (following our policy of giving course credit for high grades on the Advanced Placement examinations of the College Board.)  But it soon became clear to us that the full International Baccalaureate was something more than the sum of the parts in a way that three or four AP’s were not, or not so necessarily, in that it insured all the elements of breadth, coherence, basic writing, research and analytic skills, as well as, in most cases, some practical or community experience...

Reprinted from the International Quarterly.

At the time of printing, Cliff Sjogren was Director of Admissions at the University of Michigan and Elizabeth Vermey was Director of Admissions at Bryn Mawr College.

The College of William and Mary says:
William and Mary recognizes the International Baccalaureate program as extremely rigorous; the best possible preparation for both college work and life in the twenty-first century. In addition, we feel that the hallmarks of the IB experience - an international perspective, an interdisciplinary approach to learning, a commitment to service, and an emphasis on critical reading and analytical writing - are also the hallmarks of a William and Mary education. We encourage completion of the full IB diploma and will give special consideration for admission to students who have done so. We also award credit based on IB higher-level examinations. Score requirements are determined by individual departments.

Dr. Eugene Carson of Virginia Tech states:
. . . IB students who attended that university [Virginia Tech] as freshmen significantly outperformed all other freshmen, including students who had taken Advanced Placement courses.

The admissions director of Harvard states:
GPA is not nearly as important a factor in university admission as the IB Diploma. If a student has to choose, choose the Diploma over protecting the GPA.

IB and Advanced Placement

Both International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement are excellent preparation for college; however, the two programs differ in the type of student served and the means and methods utilized. The following charts highlight significant features of each.

Advanced Placement International Baccalaureate
Gifted students who have excelled in previous courses and are recommended for AP by subject-area teachers. Academically talented, highly motivated students with conspicuous analytical & critical thinking skills.
National standards of excellence. International standards of excellence.
College-level courses taken in the student’s area(s) of strength only. Comprehensive curriculum of college-level work; all subjects taken at the IB level, weaknesses as well as strengths.
Breadth of knowledge. Breadth & depth of knowledge: students study a few key topic areas in depth in each subject.
Courses taught in isolation from one another. Interdisciplinary approach in course work, the TOK course & Extended Essay.
Content driven: courses represent freshman level college courses requiring assimilation of large quantities of information. Process driven: students learn "how to learn" & engage in more independent projects.
Critical thinking is important for success Critical thinking is essential: students are evaluated on both the content & process of academic achievement. Exams are based on broad, general understanding of concepts and fundamental themes.
Course assessments emphasize multiple-choice (at least 50% of each exam) and essay-question formats. Course assessments emphasize essay and oral formats; multiple-choice format used little.
AP scores are based solely upon external grades determined by qualified national examiners. IB scores are based upon a combination of internal grading of required assessments by classroom teachers & external grades determined by 3,500 qualified examiners worldwide.

The following chart is copyright by Mary Enda Tookey, 1999.
Advanced Placement International Baccalaureate
The entire curriculum as laid out must be covered but an indication is given of how much of the examination will be from each topic. IB curriculum in each subject has a common core that must be covered and optional subject areas out of which a teacher selects 1 or 2 or 3 options depending on subject area and level.
AP suggests that students carry on personal research but does not require that they do (with the exception of Art Studio). Each student has to do personal investigations in each subject and some of this work done during the course becomes a part of the final IB mark in the subject area.
Most AP examinations have 2 parts, total 2 or 3 hours in length, and are written on the same morning or afternoon. Most IB exams are written in 2 separate sessions on 2 different days.
AP free responses questions are direct; they call for direct responses. (Student has had to engage in higher level thinking and integration in order to do this.) Most essays are wide ranging in scope and require integration of material from different topic areas, the citing of specific research, and evaluation of research and theories.