Top Bar

Lower Merion School District


International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

IB is offered at Harriton High School only.

Courses designated International Baccalaureate follow the specific guidelines of the IB curriculum. Students must be accepted into the IB program in order to enroll in the IB Diploma program. However, students may enroll in select IB electives that are available to non-IB students. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB) is located at Harriton High School. The two-year IB Diploma Program is designed to meet international standards of excellence and is typically completed by students in grades 11 and 12. IB features a comprehensive and broadly based curriculum that includes languages, social studies, science, mathematics, and electives culminating with examinations in six subject areas.

Prerequisites are stated in several courses. Prerequisites are guidelines to registering for these courses. Questions regarding prerequisites and placement should be addressed with the appropriate counselor.

What is the benefit of AP or IB courses?

By taking college-level Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, you enter a world of knowledge and a learning environment that you might not otherwise experience in high school. By taking AP or IB exams, you have the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at many of the nation’s colleges and universities.

The greatest benefit of AP/IB is the experience of taking academic courses in an enriched environment with classmates who are seeking intellectual challenge, are motivated to learn, and are committed to excellence. The courses offer students opportunities to delve more deeply into content, research in a scholarly fashion, and learn in a college-like inquiry-based manner.

AP: Most four-year colleges in the United States and colleges in more than 60 other countries give students credit, advanced placement, or both on the basis of AP Exam scores. By entering college with AP credits, students have time to move into upper level courses, pursue a double-major or study abroad. Students must take the AP exam in order to be eligible for college credit. More information on the Advanced Placement Program can be obtained from the school counseling office or by visiting the website:

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program was designed to provide a rigorous high school diploma experience for students who are internationally mobile. The Diploma serves as an entrance credential to universities throughout the world. The IB’s headquarters are in Geneva, with a curriculum and assessment department in Cardiff. Worldwide operations are supported by offices in Bethesda, Vancouver, Buenos Aires, The Hague, and Singapore. Though intended to be of high school rigor by an international standard, universities throughout the U.S. consider IB courses to be comparable in rigor to college coursework and grant credit accordingly.

Though intended originally for students who are internationally mobile, the vast majority of Lower Merion School District’s IB students grew up in the United States and plan to attend US colleges. The program has proven to prepare Lower Merion School District students exceedingly well for university study in institutions throughout the world, including every Ivy League School in the U.S. as well as their approximate equivalents in many countries.

The IB Program is a Lower Merion School District offering that is housed at Harriton High School. Students who are interested in applying do so during their sophomore year and then complete their IB studies at Harriton in their junior and senior years.

More Information about the IB Program

Unlike the Advanced Placement program, the International Baccalaureate Program is not offered in most high schools. This and more can be found on the website:

Because the IB is a diploma program, students take courses in all disciplines: a literature course in their first language; a language acquisition course; a history course; an experimental science course; a mathematics course; and an elective chosen from Visual Arts, Music, Psychology, Economics, Theatre, or a second science. IB students seek a balanced education: a humanities-oriented student can craft an IB schedule that is rooted in the humanities, but he/she must still study math and sciences; likewise, a math and science-oriented student can craft a schedule that is very heavy in quantitative studies, but he/she must still study the humanities.

In addition to these six courses, students complete three "core elements" of the Diploma Program:

  • CAS (creativity, activity, service), a program of out-of-classroom experiences that includes community service as well as endeavors that engage the students in creativity and action and encourages critical reflection on these activities;
  • Extended Essay, a 4000 word essay on original research;
  • Theory of Knowledge, a metacognitive course that engages the students in the evaluation of the nature of knowledge and how we come to understand the world around us.

The six subjects and the core are unified philosophically by the IB’s mission statement and learner profile (see below) as well as the fundamental understanding that acquiring knowledge is a critical step toward the greater goal of critical thinking. IB teachers foster an environment conducive to the development of critical thinking skills, including long-term projects, active engagement of the students in seminar-type lessons, research tasks, and writing assignments.

Key features of the IB experience include:

  • an interdisciplinary study in which inter-curricular links are natural;
  • an emphasis on internationalism;
  • a cohort experience in which a common group of students studies a common set of subjects, fostering close ties among each other and their teachers;
  • an international flavor, as the program attracts students from throughout the world who seek an IB diploma to facilitate their university studies either back in their homeland or a future destination.

Students who elect not to enroll in the Diploma Program are welcome to take the IB electives: Psychology, Economics, Visual Arts, Theatre and Music. Further information is available from Mr. Thomas O’Brien, IB Coordinator at (610) 658-3958 or


The International Baccalaureate Organization aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the IBO works with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment. These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.


IB learners strive to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective.

© International Baccalaureate, Strategic Plan of the IBO, April 2004 and Learner Profile, March 2006.