International Baccalaureate

Diploma Programme

Preparing students for success in higher education and to be active participants in a global society
The Diploma Programme (DP) is a two-year curriculum that will further distinguish Mercy graduates for college consideration because it is globally recognized by top colleges and universities.

Mercy is a Candidate School* for the IB Diploma Programme! We anticipate the Class of 2027 will be the first to be able to take DP courses as juniors.

We are an IB World School, offering the Middle Years Programme, and are pursuing authorization for the DP, which takes about two years. IB World Schools share a common philosophy—a commitment to high-quality, challenging, international education—that we believe is important for our students.

The DP prepares students to become creative problem-solvers and lifelong independent thinkers, equipped to succeed in a rapidly changing and increasingly global society. The DP offers a holistic approach to teaching and learning with a keen focus on developing intercultural awareness. Students learn to explore and understand the world around them through inquiry, critical thinking, and open-mindedness. 
Diploma Programme graduates are well-equipped to adjust, engage, and succeed. They graduate with analytical, writing, communication, and presentation skills; research experience; excellent organization and time management; the ability to approach a topic from multiple perspectives; and a deep understanding of academic concepts. This provides an excellent foundation for them to succeed at their chosen university.

The DP at Mercy

The DP will be offered to grades 11 and 12. It is similar to Advanced Placement (AP) courses in that it is optional, rigorous, and can provide college credits. Additionally, the IB DP is internationally renowned. Mercy students will have options for their courses in junior and senior years, similar to the current structure of college preparatory, honors, and AP courses: 
  • Mercy will still offer both college preparatory and honors courses. 
  • Students who might consider honors or AP courses will be able to take DP classes in their areas of interest and strength. Approximately half of all IB students worldwide enroll in individual DP courses, rather than completing the Diploma Programme. 
  • Students looking for the highest levels of rigor can complete the full Diploma Programme in pursuit of the DP Diploma. 

Why The Diploma Programme?

Families who want the best possible education for their children choose the DP because it offers:  
  • a challenging academic curriculum that serves as outstanding preparation for university and higher education
  • a student-centered approach to teaching, focused on developing students intellectually, emotionally physically, and socially, as opposed to preparation for test-taking only
  • a focus on international-mindedness, compassion, and understanding intercultural differences  
  • respected, reliable, and world-renowned academic preparation. Universities regularly cite DP students as the best prepared for higher education
*Only schools authorized by the IB Organization can offer any of its four academic programs: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP), or the Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted. For further information about the IB and its programs, visit


List of 6 items.

  • What Kind Of Student Is A Good Candidate For The DP?

    The DP is a rigorous course of study for motivated students. That said, prior academic success is less an indicator of ability to earn the diploma than is a student's determination to do her best; willingness to be organized in order to complete the work while leading a full, balanced life; and a strong commitment to learning in and beyond the classroom. In other schools, the IB Middle Years Programme for Grades 9 and 10 has been shown to help prepare motivated students who begin high school at varying levels of achievement to successfully take DP coursework.
  • Do DP Students Have Time For Anything Beyond Academics?

    Absolutely. Most successful Diploma Programme students lead very full lives as high school students. They are often members of athletic teams and are involved in a wide range of activities. Time management and organization are key skills the IB develops in students. 
  • Do DP Teachers Receive Special Training?

    All DP teachers receive professional development in the IB's approaches to teaching and approaches to learning from certified IB workshop leaders. This is a requirement for IB World Schools implementing the DP.
  • What's The Difference Between The Diploma And Certificates?

    Not all students choose to take the full course load leading to a diploma. Instead, some take a few DP courses in areas where they have a particular interest or strength, similar to honors and Advanced Placement classes. Certificates are awarded on a course-by-course basis to students who choose not to do the full program. Students who satisfactorily complete a DP course earn a certificate and may be eligible for university credit. 
  • How Does The IB DP Differ From Advanced Placement And Other College Prep Programs?

    The IB DP is a two-year comprehensive curriculum with a culminating set of externally graded final exams. IB and Advanced Placement (AP) programs are academically rigorous programs that prepare students for college study. There are important differences, however, in the content and exams. The DP is a cohesive and comprehensive program, not a collection of individual courses as is the case with Advanced Placement. The most important distinguishing factor is the core of the Diploma Programme (CAS, TOK, and extended essay).

    A 2015 study obtained by the Educational Policy Improvement Center revealed that students viewed AP only as a means to obtain college credit in high school, while the DP is considered a holistic program that develops strong life-long learners.

    Additional studies on program impact are available at 
  • Will AP Courses Be Offered?

    Yes. AP courses in selected disciplines will be offered as Mercy transitions to the DP. Where Mercy has identified DP courses that are more academically robust, DP courses will be offered. Qualified students could, with teacher approval, be able to take AP exams.
Mercy High School Baltimore is a sponsored ministry of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and is a member of Mercy Education.

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