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IB Program

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is a rigorous college preparatory course of studies that meets the needs of highly motivated secondary school students.

Designed as a comprehensive two-year curriculum that allows its graduates to fulfill requirements of various national education systems, the diploma model is based on the pattern of no single country but incorporates the best elements of many. It is a deliberate compromise between the specialization required in some national systems and the breadth preferred in others.

The IB Diploma program is offered in English at SAS. All students who take IB courses are required to take the IB exam at the conclusion of the course. Students may register for individual IB courses or for the full IB diploma.

IB Diploma Subject Requirements

Diploma candidates are required to select one subject from each of six subject groups. Usually three subjects are taken at Higher Level (HL) and three others at Standard Level (SL). Higher Level courses cover 240 teaching hours and Standard Level courses cover 150 teaching hours. Hence, over a two-year period, some subjects are studied in depth and some more broadly. SAS will add or delete courses and offer some courses at HL or SL according to student demand and staff availability.

Additional IB Diploma Requirements

The program offers special features in addition to the six subjects of the curriculum that is central to the diploma.

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

Students must complete an interdisciplinary course called Theory of Knowledge (TOK). This course is designed to stimulate critical reflection upon the knowledge and experiences gained inside and outside the classroom. TOK challenges students to question the basis of knowledge, to be aware of subjective and ideological biases, and to develop a personal mode of thought based on analysis of evidence expressed in rational argument. The key element in the IBO’s educational philosophy, TOK seeks to develop a coherent approach to learning, which transcends and unifies the academic areas and encourages appreciation of other cultural perspectives.

Extended Essay (EE)

Students must undertake original research and write an extended essay of some 4,000 words. This offers the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest from within one of their six examination subjects. It also acquaints students with the kind of independent research and writing skills expected at university. Each student works under the guidance of an appropriate subject teacher and will spend approximately 40 hours of private study and writing time to complete the essay.

Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS)

Participation in the school’s Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) program is intended to develop a student’s creative, artistic and physical well being. The CAS requirement seriously considers the importance of life outside the world of scholarship, providing a refreshing counterbalance to the academic self-absorption some may feel within a demanding school program. It also considers seriously the goals of educating the whole person and fostering more compassionate citizenship. Through participation in CAS activities, students are encouraged to share their energies and special talents, while developing awareness, concern and the ability to work cooperatively with others.


For more information regarding the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Shanghai American School Puxi campus, please refer to the International Baccalaureate Policy Manual.

The IB programme is a well-rounded liberal arts and science programme designed to prepare students for success in life beyond school.

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