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The value of an IB Diploma at university

We are always delighted by the number of Old Boys who tell us how well prepared they are for university studies as a result of completing the IB diploma program. This anecdotal evidence has been validated by a recent study released by the University of British Columbia.

Over a period of four years, officials at UBC tracked the performance in first-year university classes of IB and non-IB graduates from British Columbia high schools. They discovered that students who entered UBC with a final IB diploma score (achieved, not predicted) of 27 points performed at the same level as provincial secondary school diploma students who entered UBC with an 86% admission average. It is such studies that convince top Canadian universities such as UBC and University of Toronto to set very reasonable IB point total cut-offs for admission.

In most cases, Canadian universities also recognize the rigour of the IB program by granting advanced standing to diploma holders. At some schools (such as the University of Victoria, University of Calgary or McGill), you would be given credit for a full year of university courses if your final IB grades are strong enough. At other universities (such as the University of Western Ontario), you might be granted three university credits for your Higher Level subjects, technically giving you the status of a second-year student (although you would still have to make up two additional credits in order to graduate in three years). Some programs, such as engineering at the University of Toronto or the University of Waterloo, allow no credit for high school courses.

Most universities leave it up to you to decide if you want to take university credit for eligible IB courses. McGill University, however, requires students who score 5 or above on all their IB subjects to enter Year 1 (as Quebec students would) rather than the Year 0 program usually reserved for out-of-province students. Please speak to your university counsellor if you are planning to apply to McGill in order to ensure that you understand the full implications of this policy.