Recognition of the IB Diploma in Germany
Last update: January 2019
The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB diploma) is a school-leaving qualification that is awarded by the Geneva-based, private sector International Baccalaureate (IB) Organisation and can be earned at thousands of schools worldwide. Throughout Germany, an IB diploma is generally recognised as a school-leaving certificate if the requirements as stipulated in the decision of the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs on 10 March 1986 in the amended version dated 8 June 2018 are fulfilled.
The IB diploma is a general school-leaving qualification and comprises a two-year Diploma Programme. The curriculum encompasses six examination subject groups, one of which must be taken from the subject groups one through five, as specified by the IB organisation, as well as another optional subject, which can be chosen from the six subject groups.
- Group 1: Studies in language and literature
- Group 2: Language acquisition
- Group 3: Individuals and societies
- Group 4: (Experimental) Sciences
- Group 5: Mathematics
- Group 6: The arts
A minimum of three (alternatively four) subjects must be completed by the students at the Higher Level (HL), and the others must be completed at the Standard Level (SL). According to the IB organisation, HL courses must have a total of 240 classroom hours and SL courses must have 150 classroom hours.
This information, prepared in cooperation with the Central Office for Foreign Education (Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen, ZAB) is based on the decision of the Standing Conference of Education Ministers (Kultusministerkonferenz) on 10 March 1986 in the amended version dated 8 June 2018 with regard to the recognition of the “International Baccalaureate Diploma / Diplôme du Baccalauréat International”. The evaluation proposals serve the respective certification authorities as the basis for deciding which international school diplomas can lead to access of the higher education system in Germany. The information that is found on the DAAD website serves as an orientation for international students, but it is not binding for the certification authorities.
1. Requirements for the recognition of an IB diploma in Germany
According to the resolution of the Standing Conference of Education Ministers, the IB diploma is recognised as a higher education entrance qualification when the diploma “has been conferred after the graduate has attended a minimum of twelve consecutive years of full-time education”. Additionally, graduates must have taken the following subjects, according to the IB-specified requirements.
1.1 Examination subjects
- Over the course of the consecutive, two-year IB Diploma Programme, students are required to take six examination subjects that are independent of one another. Of these, at least three subjects must be completed at the Higher Level (HL). The remaining subjects can be taken at the Standard Level (SL).
- Students must take a total of two languages at level A (native speaker or very high level) or level B (intermediate level) from the IB subject groups 1 and 2. According to the above-mentioned IB agreement, students must be able to provide proof of “at least one foreign language studied uninterruptedly as Language A or Language B HL”. Students may choose a so-called Language ab initio (meaning another foreign language of which a student has little or no prior knowledge) as their sixth subject, but this will not meet the conditions for subject groups 1 and 2. As per the above-mentioned IB agreement, from the 2013 examination onwards what is known as a school-supported self-taught course can be recognised as Language A: Literature SL if the students in question cannot receive lessons in their native language at their school.
- A social science subject from the subject group 3 (History, Geography, Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Social Anthropology, Business and Management, Global Politics) must be included in the six exam subjects.
- Students must be able to provide proof of a natural science subject (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) from group 4.
- From group 5, Mathematics SL, Mathematics HL, or Further Mathematics must be chosen in conjunction with Mathematics HL.
- In addition to the aforementioned subjects, the sixth compulsory subject may be one of the following subjects recognised by the IB: Visual Arts; Music; Theatre (Arts); Film; Literature and Performance; another modern foreign language; Latin; Classical Greek; General Chemistry; Applied Chemistry; Environmental Systems and Societies; Computer Science; Design Technology; World Religions; and Sports, Exercise and Health Science. In order to be recognised in Germany, only the subjects that are explicitly named in the above-mentioned IB agreement can be included in the evaluation. All other subjects will be excluded from the evaluation.
- Students must be able to prove that one of the three compulsory HL subjects is Mathematics or a natural science subject such as Biology, Chemistry, or Physics.
- German diploma holders who attended a school abroad and cannot provide proof of having studied German as part of the IB programme must supply proof of competency in the German language before they can commence their studies in Germany. Further details are defined by state regulations.
The IB point system for examinations is based on values ascending from grade 1 to grade 7. Grades 7 through 4 are passing grades, and 3 through 1 are non-passing grades. The IB diploma is awarded when a total score with a minimum of 24 points has been achieved from the six examination subjects. Proof of the required score is required in order for the IB diploma to be recognised in Germany.
The examination subjects must have been awarded a minimum of grade 4 in the IB point system. According to the above-mentioned IB agreement, if a non-passing grade of 3 has been attained, the student can compensate for this by achieving a passing grade of 5 in a different subject at the same level or a higher level as the subject in which a grade of 3 was attained and by earning a total of at least 24 points. The IB diploma will also be awarded if more than one non-passing grade has been attained. Nonetheless, this cannot be taken into account for direct university access in Germany.
In the event that the conditions of the above-mentioned IB agreement are not completely fulfilled, you have the option to attain a higher education entrance qualification in accordance with the “regulatory framework for higher education admission for applicants with foreign educational qualifications and certificates for the Studienkollegs (a preparatory course for university-bound students) and for the Feststellungsprüfung (a higher education entrance examination)” (according to the decision of the Standing Conference of Education Ministers of 15 April 1994 in its current version). The recognition of a subject-restricted higher education entrance qualification is also possible in the event that the student has successfully passed one year of higher education studies in a country in which the school leaving certificates lead directly to the university entrance in Germany or after one year of successful studies (see page 4 of the above-mentioned IB agreement).
2. Grade conversion
The conversion of the total number of points achieved with an IB diploma into the German grading system is especially relevant for you in the event that you are applying for admission to a subject with a restricted admission qualification. With the formula in the IB agreement, the IB grade can be converted into a German grade. In this way, you can determine if you have achieved the average grade required for your desired course of study at a German higher education institution.
- N = required German average grade
- P = the total score shown on your transcript
- Pmax = the upper benchmark figure (maximum grade = 42)
- Pmin = the lower benchmark figure (minimum grade = 24)
The final result of the conversion is a decimal number (including its first decimal place) that represents the German average grade. This grade is not rounded, but further decimal places are omitted from the score.
The total IB score of a graduate is 37:
As the second decimal place is omitted, this score is converted to a grade of 1.8 in the German grading system.
3. Recognition of the diploma
When applying to a German higher education institution, you must present your diploma with a corresponding certificate that lists the examination subjects and grades, and this certificate must have been issued by the IB organisation. Diplomas that have been issued by the schools themselves are generally not recognisable. Additionally, German universities do not accept a so-called IB Certificate.
In the event that you have not yet received an official IB diploma at the time of your application, this can be substituted with an official Transcript of Grades that has been issued from the IB organisation. There is usually just a short period between the time when the grades are issued and the application deadlines for the winter semester of the same year at German universities. Therefore, it is recommended that you request that your school obtain your Transcript of Grades from the IB organisation early on.
In order to determine if you meet all requirements for direct admission to a German higher education institution, you also have to submit all term reports/semester reports. The reports have to show the level of the 6 IB subjects during the 2-year IB programme.
If you apply for university admission through the uni-assist system and you do not yet have an IB diploma in its paper form, you can have your examination results verified online by the uni-assist system. In order to do this, you must tell your IB school coordinator early on that your examination results should be made accessible to universities and other relevant institutions on the IB homepage. Please note that uni-assist can only verify your examination results online once you have informed the portal uni-assist using the contact form that you want your IB organisation examination results to be made public.