What is the difference between the IB and OIB school leaving diplomas?

When researching the various options of international or bilingual education in Paris/France, one of the selection criteria for families is the diploma awarded by the various establishments. Some international schools follow the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) leading to the International Baccalaureate (IB), whilst others award a diploma of the Option International du Baccalauréat (OIB). So, what exactly is the difference between the IB and the OIB?

The International Baccalaureate – IB

The IB programme is designed for children aged 3-19 and more than 3900 schools around the globe have chosen to teach it. The International Baccalaureate diploma (IB) is a school leaving certificate awarded for the successful completion of a two-year educational programme primarily aimed at students aged 16–19. The IB is an internationally accepted qualification for entry into higher education.

The IBO (International Baccalaureate Organisation) is the official body administering this diploma. The IB is currently taught in English, French and Spanish. The schools offering this diploma have to be officially authorized by the IBO and must follow their curriculum and guidelines.

As the syllabus of the IB is different from the one leading to the French baccalauréat, it is considered a foreign diploma and therefore access to French higher education is not automatic and has to be granted by the dean of the desired institution.

Key information

  • Created in 1968 in Geneva
  • Four teaching programmes for children aged 3-19
  • Programme taught in in English, French and Spanish
  • An extensive network of IB world schools around the globe allow for a continuum of international education
  • Final IB diploma awarded for the successful completion of the IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme) for students 16-19
  • Internationally accepted qualification for entry into higher education
  • The IB is a foreign diploma in France


The « Option International du Baccalauréat (OIB) »

The OIB is a school leaving certificate combining the French baccalauréat with extra subjects taught and examined in a foreign language to the same standards at university–entrance level as their country of origin. To obtain the OIB, candidates must pass specific papers in language, literature and history & geography (or mathematics in the case of the Chinese OIB) in addition to their chosen programme of the French baccalauréat.

The OIB was developed as a special version of the French Baccalaureate, based on partnerships between the French Ministry of Education and a number of foreign authorities.

The governing body for the OIB is the CIEP, responsible for the organisation and the administration of the annual examinations and being under the direct tutelage of the French Ministry of Education.

This examination may only be prepared in schools with international sections leading to the OIB. A good number of schools in France and also abroad offer the possibility to do the OIB.


Key information

  • A wide variety of languages: Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English (British and American), German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish
  • Officially accepted school leaving diploma in France as well as in the countries of their sections
  • Same status and validity as the mainstream baccalauréat in France
  • The “option” subjects are taught and examined in the relevant language, to a standard comparable to that of the equivalent examination in the home country (A levels in the UK, AP in the USA).
  • Jointly certified by the French Ministry of Education and the governing body of the various countries
  • The governing bodies administering the exams papers for the language options depend on the country of origin
  • In the case of the option britannique, the administering body is the University of Cambridge International Examinations
  • One important purpose is to ensure that foreign students are in a position to return to their countries of origin to pursue higher education
  • The OIB is a French diploma

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