IB schools follow a rigorous curriculum. Students can take individual IB courses, or they can opt for an IB diploma. In both cases, students must pass a qualifying exam for each IB class in order to receive college-recognized credit. Regular IB courses are either one or two years, followed by the exam, and high IB courses are two years, followed by the exam. If a student wishes to obtain an IB diploma, they must successfully complete a certain set of courses (at least 3 of which must be high IB) as well as meet a variety of additional requirements, such as papers, presentations, and service hours.
IB courses / diploma are offered to 11th and 12th graders.
Many American high schools offer IB programs and diplomas, but AP courses are more common. AP courses are college-level classes that are established by The College Board. These courses are one year long and culminate in a qualifying exam. They are not necessary for a high school diploma from an American school, but they are an advantage in the college application process.
AP courses can be taken at any point in high school, but they are most commonly taken by 11th and 12 graders.
Colleges and universities consider both the IB and AP courses to be equal with regards to difficulty, but they are more familiar with the AP curriculum. Both IB and AP classes convert into college credit, so long as the minimum score (as determined by the college or university) is met.