11 June 2021



Choosing your end-of-school programme can be an exciting time as you discover a world of new options, all helping you find the right path for your future. We have already reported extensively on our new IB Career-Related Programme (IBCP), but what of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) and the US High School Diploma (USDP)?


Although the difference between the two is fairly subtle, it makes a significant difference to students depending on their choice of higher education institution. What pushes students to pick one over the other?



  • The IBDP is a world-renowned, prestigious academic qualification that demands great focus and dedication from students, but brings with it great rewards.
  • Universities in Europe and much of the world all recognise the value of the IBDP as a qualification. Many institutions offer lower entry requirements to these students, trusting the knowledge and skills the rigorous DP course gives them. (See our interview with Susanne Siegler of Les Roches Hotel Management School.)
  • IBDP students become well-rounded, gathering a wealth of knowledge and a solid base from which to launch themselves into their next step. They study six different subject groups, of which language, science and mathematics are compulsory. What’s more, the higher level – standard level system gives students the chance to deepen their knowledge in the areas that most interest them.
  • The challenging nature of the IBDP serves as effective preparation for university, training students in time-management and prioritization. The course also features compulsory additions to the academic core to help students develop a holistic profile. For a greater explanation of these elements, why not watch this informative little video?
  • The mixed assessment of the IBDP enables all students to shine. Not purely exam-based, the programme also incorporates internal and continuous assessments over the course of the two years. These are both internally and externally moderated for transparency.


The US High School Diploma 

  • This programme is geared towards students intending to study in the United States or Canada, where the university application system requires a different approach.
  • The USDP follows a similar model to the IBDP, meaning students attend the same classes and learn the same content as their peers, but with a different assessment model. As such, they benefit from the same all-rounded, holistic education as IBDP students.
  • Assessment for the USDP is based on a system of credits, in accordance with the US university application procedure. Students are able to obtain the credits required for the USDP through a combination of higher and standard level DP subjects.
  • Our higher guidance counselor has extensive experience in US/Canada university applications. He is there to help students understand the many requirements, which change from university to university, so that they can submit as stellar an application as possible.




Ultimately, the minor difference between these two academically challenging yet rewarding programmes is a large one for students with US college aspirations. Be sure to consider your options wisely!

However, there is one thing you can be sure of from the start. Whichever programme you choose, you can be sure to emerge confident in your academic ability and ready for the next step.

Katie Harwood

Tags: IBDP, university, usdp, diploma

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