International Baccalaureate (IB)

Imagine a worldwide community of schools, educators and students with a shared mission to empower young people with the values, knowledge and skills to create a better and more peaceful world. This is the International Baccalaureate (IB).

The International Baccalaureate (IB), formerly known as the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), is a non-profit foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, founded in 1968. IB is a global leader in international education with a stated mission of creating a better and more peaceful world through education. To this end, the organization works with IB World Schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. To teach IB programmes, schools must be authorized by the International Baccalaureate and go through 5-year cycles of accreditation and renewal.

IB programmes aim to provide an education that enables students to make sense of the complexities of the world around them, as well as equipping them with the skills and dispositions needed for taking responsible action for the future. They provide an education that crosses disciplinary, cultural, national and geographical boundaries, and that champions critical engagement, stimulating ideas and meaningful relationships.

IB World Schools are united by an emphasis on developing lifelong learners who are able to not only make sense of, but to have a positive impact on, our complex and interconnected world.

The IB Diploma Programme

The IB Diploma Programme (DP) is one of four educational programmes offered by IB. Designed for students in their last two years of high school, it is internationally recognized as a challenging pre-university path. IB students graduating with the IB diploma are able to study at universities all around the world, often with advanced credit.

The curriculum is made up of the DP core and six subject groups. 

Made up of the three required components, the DP core aims to broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills.

The three core elements are:

  • 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, in which students complete a project related to those three concepts.

There are different courses within each subject group.

IB diploma candidates study six subjects (three at standard level and three at higher level) over two years and complete three additional requirements: the theory of knowledge (TOK), the extended essay and at least 150 hours of CAS—creativity, activity and service tasks outside of the classroom. In addition to these requirements, students must earn a minimum of 24 points out of a possible 45 points on the final assessments which are externally marked and moderated by the IB, in order to receive an IB diploma.

Not all students choose to take the full course load leading to the awarding of an IB diploma. Instead, some take a few DP courses in areas where they have a particular interest. IB course candidates may choose to complete as many individual IB courses as they would like. They receive a certificate for each course they complete along with a chance at advanced credit at many post-secondary institutions.

Choosing Subjects in the Diploma Programme

Students choose courses from the following subject groups: studies in language and literature; language acquisition; individuals and societies; sciences; mathematics; and the arts.

Students may opt to study an additional sciences, individuals and societies, or languages course, instead of a course in the arts.

Students will take some subjects at higher level (HL) and some at standard level (SL).  HL and SL courses differ in scope but are measured according to the same grade descriptors, with students expected to demonstrate a greater body of knowledge, understanding and skills at higher level.

Each student takes at least three (but not more than four) subjects at higher level, and the remaining at standard level.

Standard level subjects take up 150 teaching hours. Higher level comprises 240 teaching hours.

At Bellerose, we offer courses the following courses within the six subject groups:

Subject group



1. Language and Literature

English Literature


2. Language Acquisition


SL (for beginners)


SL (with some prior exposure)

3. Individuals and Societies



4. Sciences





Computer Science


5. Mathematics

Math: Analysis & Approaches


6. The Arts

Visual Art



Example Subject Choices

Students can choose many varieties of subject combinations; a selection of the combinations that can be chosen by students are shown below. It is important for prospective students to review our IB guidebook to make sure that they are enrolled in the necessary prerequisite courses in grade 10.

Students can choose many varieties of subject options; a small selection of the many combinations chosen by students are shown below.

SL—standard level

HL—higher level

HL English: Literature

SL Spanish

HL History

HL Biology

SL Computer Science

HL Mathematics
HL English: Literature

SL French

HL History

HL Biology

SL Mathematics

SL Visual Arts
HL English: Literature

SL Spanish

HL History

HL Biology

SL Chemistry

SL Mathematics

The Diploma Programme as a Springboard for Future Study

IB students are distinctive and bring a unique set of attributes to whatever university or college that they ultimately attend. Diploma Programme students:

  • know how to do independent research
  • have a demonstrated foreign language skill
  • contribute a global perspective to current events
  • have given back to their communities through volunteerism and community service
  • study the language, history and arts of diverse cultures, and approach problems from multiple perspectives
  • are exceedingly well-prepared for the rigour of college-level coursework

It is no surprise that the DP is internationally recognized as representing one of the highest standards in university preparatory education. In North America alone, more than 1,000 colleges and universities have recognition policies on how they weigh it in admissions, advanced standing, undergraduate coursework credit, and scholarships.

Students consistently report that their involvement with the DP has given them the tools needed to succeed at college or university. In particular, students comment on their sense of preparedness, self-confidence, research skills and their ability to manage their time. Even more important, they have developed a sense of the world around them and their responsibility to it.

What is Unique About the Diploma Programme at Bellerose?

As of November 2022, over 7500 IB programmes were being taught at over 5500 schools in 160 countries. The IB Diploma Programme, specifically, is learned by an estimated 1,250,000 students at 4,538 IB World Schools. Bellerose Composite High School is proud to be one of 184 schools in Canada and the only St. Albert Public School offering an IB programme. There is no doubt about the benefit of being a part of a globally unified network of schools, teachers, and students. Nevertheless, at Bellerose, we stand out from the crowd.

IB Diploma Programme students and staff at Bellerose are engaged in many community partnerships. Our students develop an awareness of their connectivity to the environment by planting trees and caring for natural areas nearby our school through the City of St. Albert’s naturalization program. They attend and critique plays at the University of Alberta’s Timms Centre for the Arts. At the city of St. Albert’s public library, you will find our students learning vital research skills to prepare them for their Extended Essay. Development around our city’s Grey Nuns White Spruce Park, one of the oldest-growth white spruce forests in any urban municipality in North America, is explored in the context of global habitat loss. Our students work with national organizations, like Ducks Unlimited Canada, to forward conservation attitudes geared explicitly to local wetlands. Within the school, we take on leadership roles, making the world a better place locally by leading student activities like bike-a-thon fundraising and eco-club initiatives. Some might claim that the Diploma Programme leaves no room for sports and extracurricular activities. One walk through our halls quickly dispels that notion.

IB World Schools agree to comply with the following relevant rules and publications which govern the administration of the IB programme offered at the school. Authorized schools must also operate in accordance with all applicable, local and national laws, regulations, and policies and in accordance with best practice in the area of education.

Article 3.1: The IB is independent from schools. Schools must inform the relevant authorities and legal guardians that:

a.  the sole responsibility for operating the school and the implementation and quality of teaching of the IB programme(s) rests with the school

b.  the sole responsibility for any shortcomings in the implementation or quality of teaching of the IB programme(s) is borne by the school

c.  the award of the International Baccalaureate diploma and Diploma Programme course results are the sole prerogative of the IB and not of the school

Article 5.2: Schools are responsible for the quality of support provided, for the teaching of the IB programme(s), their internal assessments and their predicted grades and they undertake to hold the IB harmless with regard to any legal action taken by students, candidates or their legal guardians as a result of any shortcomings.

Article 5.4: Schools must ensure that they implement their IB programme(s) in accordance with the documents published by the IB for that purpose.

Article 5.8: It is the practice of the IB to make its programmes available to all students enrolled at IB World Schools. No student will be excluded by the IB on the grounds of race, nationality or national origin, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political beliefs, disability or any other personal characteristic as prohibited by law. 

Article 5.10: Schools are responsible for ensuring that students and legal guardians:

a.  can access a copy of the General Regulations from the time the student is enrolled in the IB programme

b.  are informed about the general regulations and all programme requirements, notably the content of the curriculum and relevant aspects of assessment and any restrictions or  prohibitions that apply to the programme(s)

c.  are informed of how the school implements the IB programme(s)

d.  are aware of the services offered by the IB.

Article 5.18: Schools must ensure that legal guardians and candidates themselves are aware of the inclusive assessment arrangements (also known as access arrangements) that the IB offers to support candidates with access requirements. With the exception of access arrangements that do not require authorization from the IB, a school must request authorization from the IB to provide access arrangements for candidates with access requirements during IB assessments. This must be in accordance with the policy and procedures outlined in the relevant IB publication on access and inclusion and in the Assessment procedures for the relevant IB programme(s).

Article 8.2: The IB actively promotes wide recognition and acceptance of the IB diploma and the CP certificate as a basis for entry to universities and other institutions of higher education, but the requirements of individual institutions and the relevant authorities of a country are subject to change beyond the IB’s control. Schools, therefore, have the duty to make it clear to all candidates and legal guardians, including in relevant documents such as their enrolment forms or their promotional literature, that the recognition of an IB diploma by a specific university cannot be guaranteed.

Academic Integrity Policy
Access and Inclusion Policy
Adverse Circumstances Policy
Language Policy

At Bellerose, we, operating under the district’s Healthy Interactions framework, believe that complaints and students’ requests for appeals against IB programme decisions taken by the school should be resolved with those individuals most directly involved.  Therefore, if a student and/or parent has a concern directly related to the course, these steps should be followed;

  1. Contact the teacher/DP coordinator directly via email, phone or scheduled meeting, to discuss the concern and a path to resolution.
  2. If the concern or request is with a teacher, and if a resolution is not met, the student/parent may then seek support from the school’s Diploma Programme coordinator.
  3. If the matter is not resolved, school administration will work collaboratively with the teacher, DP coordinator, and the student/parent to find resolution.