International Baccalaureate

IB Diploma Programme

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end, the organization works with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. General information about the IB is available on the IB public website.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate, and life-long learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right. 

Student group photo in front of IB flag mural

See Hanover County Public Schools IB Teams in Action

  • Atlee High School: Instagram: @AtleeIB
  • Hanover High School: Instagram: @hhshawksib
  • Mechanicsville High School: Instagram: @mvilleib
  • Patrick Henry High School: Coming soon!

Why IB?

An IB education develops active learners equipped with a variety of learning strategies and traits such as reflective thinking, open-mindedness, and inquiry.

From our Hanover County IB students:

“The IB program gives students the opportunity to really think outside the box.”

“IB fosters commitment and character.” 

“I think more critically and individually have a greater respect for all different cultures.”

IB Learner Profile graphic

IB Learner Profile

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the plant, help to create a better and more peaceful world.

As IB learners we strive to be:

  • Inquirers
  • Knowledgeable
  • Thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Principled
  • Open Minded
  • Caring
  • Risk Takers
  • Balanced
  • Reflective

Read more about the learner profile in more detail.

IB Logo

Contact Your IB Coordinator Team to Learn More

Learn more about IB with the help of our IB coordinator team.

IB DP Overview

Students doing chemistry

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is a comprehensive option program for any student seeking a rigorous course of studies. This two-year curriculum adds to intellectual rigor and high academic standards by fostering a strong emphasis on the ideas of international understanding and responsible citizenship. Achievement is assessed using international standards.

The IB was born of efforts to establish a common curriculum and university entry credential for students moving from one country to another. International educators were motivated by practical considerations but also by an idealistic vision: students should share an academic experience that would emphasize critical thinking, intercultural understanding and exposure to a variety of viewpoints.

IB DP in Hanover County Public Schools

IB coursework and the IB Diploma Programme are offered at all four Hanover County high schools.  We encourage all students to consider taking part in the IB program.

Learn more about IB with the help of our IB coordinator team.

Hanover County high school students may complete the full IB diploma or take individual IB courses. All students enrolled in IB courses will take the IB exam and pay the fee associated with that course.

The course fee provides students with:

  • All formal assessments
  • The scoring of those assessments
  • The results/feedback on assessments
  • The certificate/diploma
  • Transcript of results sent to the student's college of choice
IB Diploma Programme Requirements

Full IB Diploma Requirements

The basic IB diploma formulas are: 

3HL + 3SL + Core= IB Diploma
4HL + 2SL + Core=IB Diploma

  1. Full IB diploma candidates must complete one subject within each of the IB’s six subject groups.
    • Language A - First Language
    • Language B - World Language
    • Individuals & Societies
    • Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Arts (may replace with a second IB science or Individuals & Societies course)
  2. At least three IB courses are taken at the higher level (HL).

  3. IB diploma candidates must complete the IB Core.
    • Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
    • Extended Essay (EE)
    • Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS)

Earning the IB Diploma

Students in graduation gowns and caps

In the DP, students receive grades ranging from seven to one for each course.  A four is considered passing while a seven is the highest. A student’s final diploma result score is made up of the combined scores for each subject. The diploma is awarded to students who gain at least 24 points, subject to certain minimum levels of performance including successful completion of TOK, the extended essay, and CAS.

IB Diploma Core

Students who pursue the full IB Diploma complete the IB Core in addition to the six IB subjects. These components broaden the students’ education experience and application of the IB Learner Profile.

  • Theory of knowledge, in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
  • The extended essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS), in which students complete a project related to those three concepts.
Students doing an activity with Playdough

Theory of Knowledge (ToK)

The IB Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class is an interdisciplinary course intended to stimulate a student's critical reflection on knowledge and experience gained inside and outside the classroom. The course challenges students to question the basis of knowledge, to be aware of subjective and ideological biases and to develop the ability to analyze evidence.

TOK is a key element in encouraging students to appreciate other cultural perspectives. It links different lines of inquiry and explores similarities and differences in different types of knowledge found in different disciplines. As a core element of the IB Diploma Program, each IB subject course has links to TOK.

Extended Essay (EE)

Students sitting at a table with laptops

Each IB Diploma Candidate has the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest through the development of the Extended Essay. This core requirement for the IB Diploma familiarizes students with the kind of independent research and writing skills expected by colleges and universities. The essay may be written on a topic in one of 60 subject areas and allows students the opportunity to explore an area of interest in depth.

For example, selecting a topic in one of their higher level courses allows a student to broaden their knowledge in a highly rigorous academic topic of their interest. They also might add breadth to their academic experience by electing to write in a subject not included in their course of study. While the essay is a student-led project, they are assisted and supported in their efforts by a staff mentor ("Extended Essay Supervisor") who meets regularly with the student.

CAS: Creativity, Activity & Service (CAS)

One goal of the IB program is to help students become responsible and compassionate citizens. The IB Diploma's CAS requirement encourages students to share their energy, talents and interests with others through Creativity, Activity, and Community Service. Students may, for example, participate in theater or musical productions, competitive and non-competitive sports, and community service activities. Students participate in these activities in order to develop a greater awareness of themselves, concern for others, and the ability to work cooperatively with other people.

"Creativity" in IB CAS is interpreted broadly. It includes a wide range of art activities but can also be defined as the creativity students show in designing and implementing service projects. Activity can include not only participation in individual and team sports but also taking part in hiking and backpacking expeditions and in local or international projects. Service encompasses a host of community and social service activities, such as helping children with special needs, visiting hospitals, and working with refugees or the homeless.

Students volunteering at a warehouse

IB Subjects

  • College-level content, readings, and materials are included in these courses.  
  • Course availability subject to student enrollment and teacher availability.
  • IBO subject briefs, which offer an overview of the course aims, curriculum model, assessment model, and sample questions linked for each subject.

Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature

Offered in Hanover County Public Schools:

Group 1 is the study of literature in a student’s first language, including the study of selections of world literature. In studying their first language, students are able to develop:

  • personal appreciation of the literature
  • skills in literary criticism
  • strong written and oral skills
  • respect for the literary heritage of their first language
  • an international perspective

The range of texts studied in language courses is broad, and students grow to appreciate a language’s complexity, wealth and subtleties in a variety of contexts. A specific aim is to engender a lifelong interest in literature and a love for the elegance and richness of human expression.

Group 2: Language Acquisition

Offered in Hanover County Public Schools:

The main emphasis of the modern language courses is on the acquisition and use of language in a range of contexts and for different purposes while, at the same time, promoting an understanding of another culture through the study of its language. The language acquisition courses are designed to provide students with the necessary skills and intercultural understanding to enable them to communicate successfully in an environment where the language studied is spoken. The Latin course focuses on the study of the language, literature and culture of the classical world.

Group 3: Individuals and Societies

Offered in Hanover County Public Schools:

Studying any one of the Group 3 subjects provides for the development of a critical appreciation of human experience and behavior, the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit and the history of social and cultural institutions. In addition, each subject is designed to foster in students the capacity to identify, to analyze critically and to evaluate theories, concepts and arguments relating to the nature and activities of individuals and societies.

Group 4: Sciences

Offered in Hanover County Public Schools:

Students explore the concepts, theories, models and techniques that underpin each subject area and through these develop their understanding of the scientific method. A compulsory project encourages students to appreciate the environmental, social and ethical implications of science. This exercise is collaborative and interdisciplinary and provides an opportunity for students to explore scientific solutions to global questions. Computer science is an elective subject in Group 4.

Group 5: Mathematics

Offered in Hanover County Public Schools:

The three Mathematics options serve to accommodate the range of needs, interest and abilities of students, and to fulfill the requirements of various university and career aspirations. The aims of these courses are to enable students to develop mathematical knowledge, concepts and principles, develop logical, critical and creative thinking, and employ and refine their powers of abstraction and generalization. Students are also encouraged to appreciate the international dimensions of mathematics and the multiplicity of its cultural and historical perspectives.

Group 6: Arts

Offered in Hanover County Public Schools:

The subjects in Group 6 allow a high degree of adaptability to different cultural contexts. The emphasis is on creativity in the context of disciplined, practical research into the relevant genres. In addition, each subject is designed to foster critical, reflective and informed practice, help students understand the dynamic and changing nature of the arts, explore the diversity of arts across time, place and cultures, and express themselves with confidence and competence.

The Diploma Core

Learn more about each course in the Hanover County Program of Studies.

IB Academic Planning

Student group photo at Randolph-Macon College

If you are interested in pursuing the IB Program, please consider the following information regarding scheduling. IB coursework does not officially begin until junior year, but in order to stay on track and keep your options open, there are a few courses you will specifically need in 9th and 10th grade.

What should I do first?

  1. Please let your counselor know that you are interested in pursuing IB coursework.  
  2. Should you have any questions about IB, please contact your high school’s IB coordinator.
  3. Finally, IB courses do not officially begin until the junior year.  You don’t have to decide right now if you want to do the full IB program. You will need to complete courses in freshman and sophomore year in order to best prepare for the full IB program.

Current 8th Graders/Rising 9th Graders: Please be aware that as a freshman interested in IB, you will need to take:

Math Pathways If you are in Math 8, register for Alg. 1 and plan to take Geometry in summer school between 9th and 10th grade.
If you are in Alg 1, register for Geometry.
If you are in Geometry, register for Alg. 2 Pre-Bac
History Adv. World History II
Science Adv. Biology
English Adv. English
Language (German, Latin, French & Spanish) Please continue with your current World Language. IB requires six years of the same language.
If you started WL in 8th grade and really want to pursue the IB diploma, it is feasible. Please discuss options with your counselor.

Current 9th Graders/Rising Sophomores:

Graduates holding their diplomas outside

Virginia Diploma Government requirement: Please register for Adv. or AP Government as a sophomore as IB Junior and Senior History does not cover the required material.

Virginia Diploma Economics & Personal Finance (EPF) requirement: IB Economics satisfies both an IB elective requirement and the EPF requirement. If you are more interested in one of the other IB electives, you may want to consider taking EPF through summer school, either through Hanover County or through the Longwood program. You may also take this as an elective course during your sophomore year. 

Earning the IB Diploma: In the junior and senior year, you must have three higher level (HL) courses and three standard level (SL) courses, as well as Theory of Knowledge. Some courses are two year and some are a single year. Please note there are free elective blocks for you to continue pursuing your passions (music, theater, yearbook, marketing, etc).

Course Options for the IB Diploma:

IB Groups 10th Grade 11th Grade  12th Grade
1 - English Adv English 10 IB English HL - year 1 IB English HL - year 2 
2 - World Language
(French, German, Spanish, Latin) 
*We also offer Spanish HL
IB WL SL - year 5

WL - year 4
IB WL - year 6

IB WL - year 5
Free elective 

IB WL - year 6
3 - Social Studies ADV or AP Government IB History HL - year 1 IB History HL - year 2 
4 - Sciences  Advanced Chemistry IB Biology HL - year 1
IB Chemistry HL - year 1
IB Biology HL - year 2
IB Chemistry HL - year 2 
 5 - Math & Math Pathways Algebra II
AP Calculus
IB Math Analysis HL - year 1 
IB Math Applications SL
IB Math Applications SL
IB Math Analysis HL- year 2 
6 - IB Elective - Diploma candidates must select one IB elective    IB Film SL/HL - year 1
IB Art HL - year 1
IB Economics, IB Philosophy, IB Psychology - can be taken junior year OR senior year. 
IB Film SL/HL - year 2
IB Art SL/HL - year 2
IB Economics, IB Philosophy, IB Psychology - can be taken junior year OR senior year.  
7 - TOK      Theory of Knowledge - year 1  Theory of Knowledge - year 2 
8 - Free Elective    Free elective  Free elective 

*This is a sample. You will work with your counselor and IB coordinator to personalize your IB path.

IB Assessments

Please visit the International Baccalaureate Organization website for more information on Diploma Programme assessments. The exam window is typically in May of each year.

Hanover County International Baccalaureate Community Committee

Committee member helping students

The Hanover County IB Committee provides support, feedback, and input to students, teachers, and administrators of the the Hanover County IB program. The primary purpose is to provide an opportunity for parents and students to participate in the IB program, review local IB policy, encourage communication and collaboration with families and stakeholders, and to promote a positive academic experience for Hanover’s IB students.

The committee will meet at least twice annually.

Membership will consist of at least two to four students from each school representing junior and senior diploma candidates and course only students, at least one to two parents of students currently enrolled in an IB course, the IB coordinators and heads of school from each high school, and the division coordinator.

Student and parent membership is a one-year commitment and students and families may serve two consecutive years.

Student and parent membership will be solicited through an application process early each fall, followed by a lottery selection to represent each school.

IB Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Students wearing IB shirts

What are the benefits of taking IB courses?
Research has shown that the intensity and quality of coursework in high school is the single greatest indicator in students’ completion of a bachelor’s degree in college, far outweighing the GPA.

What does IB teaching and learning look like in high school?
The International Baccalaureate programs focus on teaching and learning through rigorous student-centered strategies that encourage inquiry, global perspectives and development of the whole child. These practices are the foundation of each unit, and students will engage with IB learning throughout each class daily. This includes but is not limited to collaboration, problem solving, reflection, skill building, real world connections, student choice, differentiated instruction, student-led activities, multiple forms of communication, student demonstrations of learning, IB assessments, feedback, teacher and peer support, and an array of resources. The Diploma Program (DP) includes all of these elements as well as additional focus on the formal Internal Assessments (IAs) throughout the year and the IB international examinations in May.

Do I have to take the IB assessment if I take an IB course?
Yes, IB course students and diploma students must take all IB exams. In the 2022–2023 school year, assessment and course fees were $119.

What if I can’t afford the IB assessment and course fee?
If you have a financial hardship, please reach out to your school counselor or high school IB coordinator to learn about fee assistance.

What’s the difference between IB and AP courses?
IB and AP courses both feature college level curriculum with the opportunity to opt into exams that have the potential for college credit award. The programs are both recognized by universities as having a strong college-preparatory curriculum. IB courses are interconnected with an emphasis on conceptual learning and inquiry. It also offers the IB diploma with a balance of subject courses and core components (Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge, CAS).

Student with a crab grabbing onto her hat

What is a typical IB student?
We believe that IB is an option for all learners.

The most successful IB learners are those that love to learn, are curious, comfortable with inquiry and creative thinking, are academically focused and like working cooperatively and independently. 

Do I have to go to another school to be an IB student?
IB is offered at all four Hanover County high schools, so you will remain at your zoned school.

Can I get college credit for IB coursework?
Yes, it varies at each institution. It is the student’s responsibility to inquire at the college(s) of their choice regarding college credits. Earning college credit is contingent upon student performance on the IB exams.

Is there an application?
No, there is not an application. If you are interested in IB, reach out to your school counselor or high school IB coordinator.

Must a student be academically gifted to be in the IB Diploma Program?
No, the common standard of IB students is that they like to learn and are willing to work hard. They should be highly motivated, have a strong academic foundation, and have good abilities in all subject areas.

Are IB teachers specially trained?
Yes, IB teachers attend training seminars offered through the IB organization. They periodically receive updates and notifications as the curriculum changes. Teachers also receive support through a local network of IB schools and through IB’s on-line curriculum center.

Can IB students be involved in athletics and extracurricular activities, have a social life, and still maintain good grades?
Definitely. Most IB students are involved in sports and/or clubs and activities at school as well as in their community and churches. Most say the busier they are, the more efficient they are in making the most of their time. They have active social lives and say they do need some time for fun in order to be effective learners. IB helps students to become efficient time managers. They learn to prioritize course work and create study groups for their own learning styles. Involvement in sports, school clubs, and activities can count toward CAS.

What if I have a concern about an IB course, grade, or assessment?

  • For concerns or questions in respect to a course, subject, or school related, students should contact/email their IB teacher and the IB coordinator. If your question or concern is not resolved, please connect with your school’s principal.
  • For questions or concerns about an IB assessment grade award, please review the IBO general regulations.

Hanover County IB Policies

Students in English class holding up their hexagon project

IBO requires each IB school to establish and regularly review policies for the implementation of the Diploma Programme. Please contact your school’s IB coordinator for further information about the policies below:

Academic Honesty and Integrity Policy
Access and Admission Policy
Assessment Policy
Inclusion Policy
Language Policy
Complaint Policy

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