International Baccalaureate

Students who love learning and enjoy a rigorous academic challenge should consider the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. IB students are self-motivated, engaged in learning, and resilient. Success in an IB program will depend on the student’s ability to:

  • handle a demanding workload at a fairly quick pace
  • work to understand concepts and their development rather than just memorize
  • learn to become an independent, self-disciplined student
  • face challenges with enthusiasm and resilience

Students have two candidacy options in IB: Diploma or Diploma Course.

  • Diploma - students take a full IB program that includes 6 IB courses. In addition, students will complete Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay and CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service).
  • Diploma Course - students must take a minimum of any two IB courses plus Theory of Knowledge and CAS. We encourage, but do not require a balanced or well-rounded program, including a humanities based IB course and a math/science based IB course (for example, Mathematics IB, Chemistry IB and History IB, plus be involved in TOK and CAS activities). Overall grades in core subjects must still be adequate, even if a student chooses two complementary IB courses such as Psychology SL and Business Management SL.

In May of either the Grade 11 or Grade 12 years, or both, students will write challenging IB exams and, when applicable, the Alberta Education Diploma exams in January and/or June.

Additional Costs

Students will be responsible for: CBE registration fee ($25.00 per year) and the assessment and mailing fee for external assessments (currently $200per subject).

IB courses are: Higher Level (HL) & Standard Level (SL)

Higher Level courses are in-depth two year studies of a particular subject, usually beginning in grade 11, except Math HL. Higher Level courses are similar in difficulty to a first-year University course. Standard Level courses are normally more than one year study duration, beginning in grade 10 or grade 11. They do not go into the depth or detail of HL courses. Universities usually only recognize HL courses for credit.

IB Courses We Offer

  1. Studies in Language and Literature - English Literature
  2. Language Acquisition - French SL, Mandarin SL*, Cantonese SL* or French ab initio, Mandarin ab initio*, Spanish ab initio
  3. Individuals and Societies –World History HL, Business Management SL, Economics HL
  4. Sciences: Chemistry HL, Physics SL, Biology SL, Computer Science HL
  5. Mathematics SL/HL
  6. Visual Arts HL

NB *Cantonese IB and Mandarin IB are offered at The Chinese Academy, a Friday/Saturday Chinese school in partnership with the Calgary Board of Education.


Students usually apply in November of Grade 10 for admission into the IB program. Selection is granted on a course-by-course basis and the admission criteria are:

  • Overall marks of 75% or better depending on the course
  • a positive recommendation by the subject area and other teachers
  • priority placement for (full) IB Diploma Candidates
  • Quality of Application Essay. 

If students accept placement in IB they will be expected to fulfill their 2-year commitment to the program not withstanding unforeseen circumstances. Withdrawal from the program will be granted only with IB Coordinator's consent, not at the student or parents’ request. Not achieving the grades you would like is not a reason to request and exit from the IB program. There is a second round of application for grade 10 students in April of their grade 10 year, for English HL, Computer Science HL, Economics HL, Chemistry HL, World History HL, Art HL, French ab initio, French SL, Spanish ab initio, Mandarin ab initio and SL.

Please select IB courses cautiously.

Over the next two years, in order to fulfill the IB Diploma Requirements and an Alberta Education High School Diploma, a Grade 10 student seeking a full IB Diploma must register for the following:

1. Math 10 Cohort IB and Science 10 in semester 1.

2. Math 20 IB,  Physics 25 IB or Biology 25 IB, or Business Management Advanced IB for the second semester of Grade 10.

3. PE 10.

4. International language at SWC:

  • French 10, 20 or 30 (depending on their previous French background)
  • Mandarin/Cantonese 10 (at the Chinese Academy)
  • Spanish 10

5. CALM 20.

6. Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay and CAS.

7. 3 HL subjects.

8. 3 SL subjects.

Higher Level (HL) Subjects

  • English 20/30/35 IB HL
  • Economics 20/30 IB HL
  • World History IB HL
  • Chemistry 30/35 IB HL
  • Computing Science 30 IB HL
  • Math 30/31/35 IB HL
  • Art 30/31 IB HL

Standard Level (SL) Subjects

Business Management Intro/Advanced IB SL

Language ab initio:

  • French IB ab initio 20 and 30
  • Mandarin/Cantonese IB ab initio 20 and 30
  • Spanish IB ab initio 20 and 30

Language B:

  • French 30/31 IB SL

Biology 25/20/30 IB SL

Physics 25/20/30 IB SL

Math 20/30/31 IB SL

Chinese International Baccalaureate

As part of an IB program, Chinese IB is an excellent way to improve a heritage language or learn a new globally important language.

The IB schools in Calgary are proud to have been IB partners with The Chinese Academy for almost 20 years. Chinese IB is taught by IB trained teachers at The Chinese Academy. 

The Chinese courses run Saturdays, throughout the school year, at sir John A McDonald School and the John G Diefenbaker High School campuses. Students who wish to study Mandarin IB or Cantonese IB at The Chinese Academy must register in September of Grade 10 with The Chinese Academy, for Chinese 10 Honours, which is a pre-requisite course for entry into Chinese IB in Grade 11.

Students will apply to the IB program in their designated high school, and if they are successful in being accepted into an IB program including Chinese IB, they continue with The Chinese Academy throughout Grade 11 and 12 on Saturdays. They pay their IB fees (for IB registration and for their exam) and write their exams at their designated high school.

The Chinese Academy offers Mandarin ab initio (for the beginning Mandarin student, who may have some experience speaking the language, but does not read or write at all in Mandarin), a new Mandarin ab initio (new in 2020 for complete beginners with zero background), Mandarin SL and Cantonese SL(for students with minimal experience reading and writing in Mandarin or Cantonese). Students who are highly proficient with the native speaking, reading and writing and who are able to proficiently study grade level literature in Mandarin/Cantonese are not eligible to study Chinese IB in Calgary, as no school currently offers Chinese HL.

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