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International Baccalaureate Program

Sandia High is an authorized International Baccalaureate World School, offering the prestigious IB Diploma Program to qualified students.

Sandia HS and IB signage

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, housed at Sandia High School, offers the rigorous Diploma Program for juniors and seniors. The two-year course of study is designed to be an academically challenging and balanced program, preparing students for success at the university level and beyond.

Students study both Standard Level courses, leading to a breadth of knowledge, and Higher Level courses, leading to mastery.

Why Choose IB?

  • IB courses stress depth over breadth in learning.
  • Students are required to accept more responsibility and accountability for their education, preparing students to succeed at the university level.
  • IB teachers at Sandia complete high-quality professional development in their subject area every four years.
  • IB teachers have access to a worldwide network of teachers and examiners as well as best practices in their respective curricula.
  • Universities are increasingly accepting IB coursework for college credit.

Eligibility and Admissions

Students enter the two-year program as juniors. All qualified students from around Albuquerque are invited and encouraged to participate in the program.

What type of student should apply for the IB Diploma Program?

  • Highly motivated students
  • Students with proven academic success
  • Students who are intellectually curious
  • Students who are ready to be pushed to their academic limit

Learn more about the IB learner profile.

What is the admissions process?

  • Complete the application
  • A personal interview
  • Teacher recommendations
  • A review of school transcripts and grades
  • A review of the fall PSAT*
    *Applications from students who haven't taken the PSAT or who currently are enrolled in an IB Program will be reviewed on an individual basis.

Contact Sandia IB to learn more.


IB Diploma students study the three core elements and six subject groups over two years. The core elements — theory of knowledge (TOK), extended essay, and creativity, activity, service (CAS) — are intended to unify the six subject areas and give students ownership of their educational experience.

Students complete assessment tasks in the classroom, which are scored by their teachers, and then moderated by IB. Once students complete their classes, they will be required to pass three Higher Level assessments and three Standard Level assessments to earn the IB Diploma.

Theory of knowledge

The theory of knowledge (TOK) core element is assessed through an oral presentation and 1,600-word essay.

TOK unifies the six subject areas and develops inquiry and critical thinking by asking students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and how we know what we claim to know. Students learn the development of cognition and to identify how and why cultural norms exist.

Learn more about the TOK.

Extended essay

The extended essay core element is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.

The extended essay offers an opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest at length and to become familiar with the research and writing skills expected at the university level. A mentor teacher assists students in developing this “mini-thesis.”

Learn more about the extended essay.

Creativity, activity, service

The creativity, activity, service (CAS) core element requires students to be involved in a range of experiences and at least one project. These should involve:

  • Personal challenge
  • Planning, reviewing progress, and reporting
  • Reflection on project outcome and personal learning

We recommend involvement in sports, artistic pursuits, and community service (150 hours minimum). The goal of CAS is to provide a balance between academic and social life.

Learn more about CAS.

Six Core Subjects

The IB curriculum is comprised of six subject groups in which students are tested, surrounding a unifying core.

Six Core Subjects
1. Language Arts Language and Literature
2. Second Language French, Spanish
3. Individuals and Societies History of the Americas
4. Experimental Sciences Biology, Chemistry
5. Mathematics Mathematics
6. The Arts & Electives

Music, Visual Arts, Sports, Health and Exercise Science (Athletics), Business Management

More information available: IB Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens once a student is accepted into the program?

  1. Qualified students will be notified.
  2. Upon notification, students will be asked to confirm their intent to enroll in the IB program.
  3. Students will register for IB classes.
  4. Sandia counselors will handle transfer paperwork for all students accepted into the program.

What's the difference between IB and AP Classes?

IB is a balanced program of study. Course work is completed over two years and students are assessed multiple times over the two years.

Advanced Placement (AP) classes are taken independently of each other. Course work is completed in one year and there is one assessment per class at the end of the academic year.

Sandia will continue to offer AP classes for students who aren't enrolled in the IB program.

Will transportation be provided for IB students?

Students in the Sandia High district who live at least two miles from the school are eligible to ride the bus. Buses will not be available to students outside of Sandia's district.

Will IB athletes play for Sandia?

Yes. The New Mexico Activities Association granted a two-year waiver that allows IB students transferring from another school to participate in Sandia sports.

Is there a fee to take IB diploma assessments?

There is a fee for the assessments, but the City of Albuquerque contributed $115,000 to help cover the cost of those fees, so students and families won't have to pay them.

This page was last updated on: October 16, 2012.