Don't miss out on new resources - join the newsletter!
We have the best collection of free IB & MYP resources for students, covering lots of subjects and areas. Make sure you never miss out on the most important resources you need right now with our monthly free resource newsletter!

The IB Career-related Programme

Choosing the right subjects can set up a student for life. Make sure your child starts the IB on the right foot by speaking with an EIB Consultant to pick the perfect subjects.

What is the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP)?

The IB Career-related Programme (IBCP) is an International Baccalaureate programme for 16-19-year-olds designed to increase “access to an IB education and to provide a flexible learning framework that can be tailored by the school to meet the needs of students.”

IB Students who did not want to take all 6 subjects previously had the option of taking ‘Certificates’; whereby students could select 3 or 4 subjects that matched their academic strengths. However, when these students wished to apply for university, this posed a serious problem. University offers are typically made based on a student’s overall diploma score, so taking fewer subjects left students unable to access university places. The IBCP solves this problem by including career-related development alongside academic learning, in the form of an IBCP core and career-related study. Universities have also understood the value of the IBCP, now offering different entry requirements to accommodate it.

How is the IBCP structured?

The IBCP has 3 parts:

  1. Students take at least two Diploma Programme courses as part of the IBCP. These are chosen from the range offered at schools and can often be taken at Standard or Higher Level. The syllabus and assessment are the same as a normal IB Diploma module.
  2. Students also undertake an IBCP core that includes approaches to learning, community and service, language development and a reflective project. We break down what each of these means below.
  3. Finally, students also complete an approved career-related study – normally an A-level applied A-level or BTEC qualification – which is often accompanied by work experience in relevant sectors.

The IBCP is known for its flexibility, and so is easier for schools to offer, and gives students the chance to follow a more personalised pathway, continuing into further study or employment depending on their desires. The IBO states that each school creates its own distinct version of the CP to meet the needs, backgrounds and contexts of its students, and we believe this applies equally to its students.

As an example of how the course can be broken down, the Western International School of Shanghai breaks down their Sports pathway.

What does each of the components offer?

1. Diploma courses

The Diploma courses offer the theoretical underpinning of the IBCP as they do with the IBDP. They give students a rigorous academic foundation that will support moving into further study. This will also give students the knowledge they then apply in their career-related study and CP core components.

2. CP core

The CP core is broken down into 4 components:

  1. Personal and professional skills – Students develop skills relevant for the workplace and personal growth
  2. Service-learning – students identify and meet a need in the community through undertaking projects that are linked to their academic disciplines
  3. Reflective project – Students identify, analyse, critically discuss and evaluate an ethical issue. They develop research, writing and communication skills, so this is good preparation for university research
  4. Language development – Students develop proficiency in another language apart from their own

The CP core components have an emphasis on experiential learning, whereby students learn through experiencing their subject matter in skills workshops, work experiences, language practice and volunteering in the local community. This means students develop a combination of academic and practical skills suitable for further study and the workplace.

3. Career-related study

Students study practical, real-world approaches to learning, through studying a career-oriented curriculum. The IB partners with a range of providers of career-related qualifications, including Pearson, the Council for Awards in Care, Health & Education (CACHE), and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) to offer these courses. Career-related qualifications are often BTEC or equivalent qualifications, such as the BTEC Level 3 National Award that is offered at ACS International School in Egham. The Halley Academy’s website also offers a good insight into their programme, so please see this for more information on career-related study.

Alternatively, as a useful summary of all 3 components, Dallam School suggests that students study 10 lessons per week of career-related study, 3 lessons per week of each standard level subject and 4 lessons per week of IBCP core; whilst also including blocks of work experience in their school calendar. At the Anglo European School in Essex, this translates into 2 Standard Level subjects, two A-levels and the CP core.

How is the IBCP assessed?

The IBCP components are assessed internally by your school or externally by the IB:

  1. Diploma courses are assessed externally by the IBO (except for coursework components), like IB Diploma Programme exams. For more information on Diploma assessments, please see the IBO’s assessments page
  2. Career-related study is marked externally by the relevant exam board
  3. CP core is marked internally by a student’s school (indeed, the language development module is non-examined at The Halley Academy and at Patrick Henry High School, rather, students develop a language portfolio, following the ab initio course syllabus)

Similarly, The Halley Academy offer various options for the reflective project assessment. Students can choose to complete a written essay (3,000 words) and reflection (1,000 words), or they can complete a written essay (1,500 – 2,000 words), an additional format (film, oral presentation, interview, play or display) and reflection (1,000 words). It is this freedom that gives the IBCP an edge over traditional qualifications such as A-levels.

If you would like support in your Diploma course revision, why not look at one of our courses? We host courses in 8 different locations worldwide, including London, Geneva, Berlin and Singapore, offering rigorous support from IB graduates, teachers and examiners. Alternatively, for a more bespoke experience, why not look at face-to-face or online tuition? Our tutor’s average score in the IB is 43 points, and we have a variety of IB examiners and teachers also offering to tutor. Please do get in touch!

Thanks! Check your emails to complete your sign up!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Are there potential drawbacks compared with the IBDP (Diploma Programme)?

It could still be harder to attain a university place with the IBCP, given that you normally only study 2 IB subjects at Standard Level. The University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) uses a UCAS points system to equate students with different qualifications when administering university admissions. With less subjects than an IBDP or A-level student, students studying the IBCP will rely on their career-related study and reflective project to increase their UCAS points.

However, this is certainly possible! An IBDP student will attain 56 points for a 7 in any HL, 28 points for a 7 in any SL, and 12 points for an A in the Extended Essay or Theory of Knowledge. By comparison, an A in the CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education is worth 144 points, whilst a Pearson BTEC qualification is worth between 40 and 60 points (roughly equivalent to a Higher Level). Furthermore, the reflective project also has the same weighting as the Extended Essay. This means that students studying the IBCP are not unfairly disadvantaged when applying to university, although it may be easier to attain a higher points score with the Diploma Programme. Nevertheless, Paul Luxmoore, executive headteacher at Dane Court Grammar School, argues the the IBCP is attracting students who would not have even considered higher education before studying for the programme. Indeed, students at Wrotham School Sixth Form, who study the IBCP, have gone on to attend universities such as Brunel, Durham and King’s College London.

Adrien Kierney, regional AEM director at the IBO, also suggests that universal perspectives such as lifelong learning and analytical skills give IBCP graduates a distinct advantage in the global workplace. As we are increasingly reliant on transferable skills in the workplace, the IBCP prepares students very well to flourish in the world of work.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article and hope it has given you a clearer idea about what the IBCP is and how it is structured. We encourage you to contact universities regarding their admissions procedures to ask what IBCP grades they require (the earlier the better). Please also contact the IBO or your prospective school for more information on the structure of their IBCP programme. Finally, please do see our resources page for more articles like this one.

Helpful links:

The IBO’s guide to the IBCP:

The Skinner’s Kent Academy IBCP FAQs:

Featured EIB resources
Thanks! Check your emails to complete your sign up!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Timothy Hoffmann