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 Diploma Program

In Grades 11 and 12, Branksome offers a range of Diploma Program courses that lets each student plan a program best suited to her strengths, interests and goals. Our curriculum and our Learning Strategies staff support all learning styles.

The combination of Standard and Higher Level courses, Arts and Electives options, plus considerable latitude in choosing an Extended Essay topic, allows each girl to focus indepth on mathematics, humanities or sciences. At the same time, she enjoys the benefits of a broad-based liberal arts education.

During the two Diploma Program years, students have ample opportunity to review their work, knowledge and skills with their teachers prior to internal and external assessments. Practice tests and exams prepare students for externally graded examinations in their final year.

Grounded in the liberal arts tradition, the IB Diploma Program features concurrent study in humanities, mathematics and sciences in a rich curriculum that combines breadth and depth. Designed to instill a global perspective and to promote cross-cultural understanding and respect, the Diploma Program emphasizes inquiry-based learning and discovery. Along with a sense of social responsibility, students develop independent and critical-thinking skills vital to university studies. The Diploma Program rounds out students' experiences through creative expression and physical activity.

Because the IB Diploma Program in Grades 11 and 12 is externally assessed, it provides an unequalled level of quality control over skills assessment and curriculum depth. Welcomed into the best universities world-wide and often given university credit for IB Higher Level courses, Diploma Program graduates are sought after because they are "committed, self-confident, highly organized and risk-taking individuals with multi-tasking capabilities."

Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) requirements are integrated with the International Baccalaureate, so graduates can receive both an IB Diploma and an OSSD.

Curriculum choices
Students choose one course from each of six groups during both years of the Diploma Program. Taking three courses at the Standard Level (150 teaching hours) and three at the Higher Level (240 hours) provides the flexibility to delve deeply into each student's strongest subjects, while providing a broad base of knowledge.

Course groups
  • English (or mother-tongue language)
  • A second language (French, Spanish, Latin or English)
  • Individuals and Societies (History, Geography, Economics, Environmental Systems and Societies)
  • Experimental Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Systems and Societies)
  • Mathematics (offered at three levels)
  • The Arts (Theatre, Music, Visual Arts)

Unique features
The Diploma Program has three other unique features:

1 ​ Theory of Knowledge is an interdisciplinary course designed to stimulate critical thinking and reflection. It challenges students to question the bases of knowledge, be aware of bias, and learn to analyze the evidence used in presenting an argument. Students come to understand different points of view and how one's background can affect one's perception of truth. ​

2 ​ Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) encourages students to involve themselves beyond the curriculum in the arts, athletics and service to others. Over the two-year Diploma Program, students involve themselves in the three CAS areas, developing and sharing their energies and talents while they learn to work cooperatively. ​

3 ​ The Extended Essay is a 4,000-word essay that all IB Diploma Program students write on a topic of special interest drawn from their studies. With the guidance of an advisor, each student conducts independent research, prepares her ideas and organizes material for her essay. The skills and techniques honed in creating the Extended Essay provide valuable practice for university work. ​

Assessment in the Diploma Program
A key feature of the International Baccalaureate is its emphasis on criterion-based assessment of performance. This means that students are not graded "on a curve," based on other students' performance; their learning is measured in relation to established, published standards that apply equally to each student at every IB World School.

The IB Organization's assessment strategy emphasizes validity, reliability and fairness. Teachers and IB examiners work as partners to ensure that students have various opportunities to demonstrate what they have learned. A student's progress is assessed by her teachers through classroom and group work, assignments, labs or artistic performances, and reviewed by highly qualified IB examiners. All examinations held in Grade 12, at the end of the two-year Diploma Program, are graded externally by IB examiners. Grades are awarded on a scale of one to seven, with seven being the highest.

In addition to their exam grades, students may receive up to three bonus points for combined performance in the Theory of Knowledge course and the Extended Essay. An International Baccalaureate Diploma is awarded to students who graduate with at least 24 points, up to a maximum of 45 points.

Branksome Hall students graduate with two diplomas, the Ontario Secondary School Diploma and the IB Diploma. Students are able to present two sets of credentials to universities for consideration.

Those students who do not complete all the requirements for the IB Diploma receive an OSSD and an IB Certificate for each course they have successfully completed.

More information
The Senior and Middle School Academic Program will provide you with more details about our exciting IB curriculum. View the Academic Program. In addition, several graduates and current students have share their IB Diploma Program insights here.

10 Elm Avenue, Toronto, ON M4W 1N4, Canada

Tel: 416-920-9741 |