The International Baccalaureate (IB) Career-related Program (CP)

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Social work education

International secondary education is ever-changing, and in the process of evaluating programs around the world, you may encounter offerings which are not clearly represented as equivalent to studies which grant admission to higher levels of education. 

A recent program that credential evaluators, admissions professionals may have encountered through International Baccalaureate, is the Career-related Program (CP). In a bid to expand into vocational secondary preparation, the Swiss educational foundation has created a pathway incorporating elements of their Diploma Program (DP) with vocational streams.

The CP originated from a 2006 project led by the International Baccalaureate in Finland. The project aimed to develop a new program that combined the IB Diploma Program courses with career-related studies and a special ‘IBCC Core’ to integrate the two parts. After a six-year pilot involving schools from around the world, the IBCC was made available to IB Diploma Program schools in 2012.

Since January 2016, all schools can apply for CP authorization and become an “IB World School.” This quality assurance element is critical to the success of the program. Any school, or group of schools, wishing to offer the CP or any other IB program (the Primary Years Program, the Middle Years Program and the Diploma Program) must first be authorized to do so by International Baccalaureate. The requirements are the same for all schools, and the authorization procedure is designed to ensure that schools are well-prepared to implement the IB programs successfully. All IB World Schools are additionally required to participate in an ongoing process of review and development.

Students complete at least two DP courses in any of that program’s subject groups. For CP students, DP courses provide the theoretical underpinning and academic rigor of the program, ensuring that the program is not exclusively vocational. The CP core components give practical context to the DP courses and the career-related study, drawing all aspects of the framework together. Through the CP core, students develop personal qualities and professional skills, as well as intellectual habits required for lifelong learning. A student might choose the Biomedical Science pathway, taking subjects within the CP (e.g., biomedical sciences, biomedical interventions, and biomedical innovations), which are then complemented with DP courses such as Biology, Chemistry, and/or Mathematics.

Each school chooses the career-related study most suited to local conditions and the needs of its students. IB World Schools also select a number of DP courses as part of the CP framework. The career-related study must satisfy IB criteria for accreditation, assessment, and quality assurance. The CP validates both achievement and academic integrity in students' performance through its examination and moderation process. Some examples of CP pathways include: JROTC, Pro-start Cooking, Engineering, Medical Concentration, Business Concentration, Agriscience, and Personal and Professional Skills (PPS).

Students in the International Baccalaureate Career-related Program engage with a rigorous study program that integrates their personal interests, while gaining transferable and lifelong skills in applied knowledge, critical thinking, communication, and cross-cultural engagement. The CP’s three-part framework comprises the study of at least two Diploma Program courses alongside the distinctive CP core and a career-related study.

This career-related study prepares students for internships or apprenticeship, a position in a designated field of interest, or (most importantly for those evaluating the equivalency of the program) higher education.

At Scholaro, we consider the completion of the CP program to be equivalent to a High School Diploma, the benchmark credential for completion of secondary education in the United States. A Credential Evaluation Report will confirm this equivalency. While these programs may differ from the traditional IB DP, they equally mark the completion of the academic level and grant access to college and university programs.


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