How is the IB Program different than Advanced Placement (AP)?

What is the difference between IB and AP?

International Baccalaureate
  • International: emphasis on global perspectives
  • From the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) Mission: Through challenging programs of international education and assessment, IBO seeks to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people, who will become compassionate citizens seeking a better and more peaceful world.
  • Holistic or Total Program: The Diploma Program is a course of study, encompassing six areas: literature and language arts, history, foreign language, science, math and the arts.
  • Students also take a class called Theory of Knowledge, write a senior research project called the Extended Essay, and complete 150 CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service) hours.
  • More divergent: asks why more than what
  • Graded world-wide with global standards
  • Many factors, such as papers, orals, and projects, in addition to the written exam, determine the final score (1-7).
  • Emphasizes process and integration of content across content areas
  • IB Student many also sit for AP exams.
Advanced Placement
  • Mostly U.S.: more academic than philosophical
  • The College Board Mission: To be a great educational organization dedicated to preparing, inspiring, and connecting students to college success and opportunity, with a commitment to excellence and equity.
  • Single Strength or Cafeteria Style: students choose AP courses that fit their strengths and that are independent of one another.
  • No additional requirements
  • More convergent: asks what more than why
  • Graded in U.S. with American standards
  • Score (1-5) hinges on a single written exam.
  • Content driven
  • AP students may not sit for IB exams.

  1. Both are rigorous programs devoted to educational excellence; each program sets high performance standards for students and faculty.
  2. Both programs involve dedicated and creative teachers committed to their students, their disciplines, and their profession.
  3. Both programs attract highly motivated students who wish to excel academically and attend the most selective colleges and universities.
  4. Both programs provide for articulation with middle-school curricula, IB through its Middle Years and Primary Years Programs, and AP through its Pre-AP program and its K-12 initiative.
  5. Both programs have attracted the attention of international educators, educational policymakers, and the general public as ways to improve the quality of education around the world.
  6. Both programs value students doing independent research, thinking and writing. IB students are expected to produce a 4,000-word Extended Essay as a formal requirement of the IB Diploma. AP teachers and IB teachers typically require students to write extended research essays, papers, and reports that involve the use of both primary and secondary sources and that also require independent thinking, analysis, and interpretation.
  7. In support of the academic programs, both AP and IB offer extensive professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators.