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Articles / Applying to College / How Useful are IB Credits?

How Useful are IB Credits?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | July 25, 2013

Question: How useful are credits earned through the International Baccalaureate program?

IB credits can be VERY useful. At many colleges, students who enter with enough of them may be allowed to “accelerate” and graduate early (a big money saver!). IB credits may also allow students to skip introductory classes. (But be wary. Some students find these intro classes boring, yet others who have jumped ahead … especially in technical fields like engineering … have later complained that they weren’t adequately prepared by their IB program.)

Note, however, that colleges … even similar seeming ones … may have markedly different policies when it comes to IB credits. Not only will these policies vary from college to college but sometimes even from department to department within the same institution. So you have to read Web sites carefully to see what exam scores you need in order to earn ANY credit and also to find out exactly how this credit can be applied. Note also that these policies might even vary from year to year, so don’t rely on the grapevine for information.

Most (but not ALL) colleges will award some sort of credit for strong performance on the IB exams, and all (as far as I know) will at least use IB results for placement purposes.

When it comes to earning college credit before actually enrolling in college, IB and Advanced Placement exams are the most reliable. Summer classes and other courses taken during high school may or may not provide you with credits that the college you choose will accept, no matter what you were promised when you signed up for them. But never assume that the IB credits you can earn at one college on your list will be the same at the next. In fact, you may feel as if you need a college degree (preferably one from MIT or Cal Tech 😉 ) to discern the differences!


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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