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Monday, June 24, 2013 - OU expands International Baccalaureate opportunities
By Kathleen Williams, student writer


Oakland University has increased its support of young students pursuing an ambitious educational experience by updating its International Baccalaureate Transfer Policy to award general education credit to students who have earned an IB diploma. 

Dr. Carolyn O’Mahony, who teaches in OU’s IB teacher development program, supports the university’s decision to recognize more clearly the IB Diploma because she feels it will attract students who are excited about and committed to learning. 

“Our relationship with International Baccalaureate puts Oakland University in an excellent position to recruit students from around the world who have had intellectually stimulating experiences in their K-12 schools,” Dr. O’Mahony said. “These students can add much to the OU learning community. It is not about their test scores though, it is about the orientation towards holistic thinking that the IB curriculum nurtures.” 

In addition to offering course equivalency credit depending on individual exam scores, the university has expanded its policy to recognize the value of the well-rounded education represented by an IB Diploma. Students who have an IB diploma will earn at least 24 credits, with the potential to earn even more, based on their scores in individual examinations.

The International Baccalaureate Organization offers a broad-based international curriculum for students aged 3-19, focusing on critical thinking and intercultural understanding and respect. Established at the International School in Geneva, Switzerland in 1968, the two-year high school program was intended to enable students to enter universities in different countries. At the end of the program students earn an International Baccalaureate Diploma.

An IB diploma is awarded to students who earn at least 24 points on a group of six exams that are scored between 1-7 points each. Students are tested in the following categories: English /Language A, an additional language/Language B, Individuals and Society, Experimental Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science, and The Arts.

“If they’ve earned an IB Diploma, the student has met the spirit of General Education and is ready to take on their major coursework at an earlier point in their college career,” Tricia Westergaard, associate registrar, said. “It’s a rigorous curriculum and their efforts should be acknowledged.” 

Students must also satisfy three core requirements: completing an extended research essay, taking a year-long Theory of Knowledge course, and exhibiting creativity, action or service through 120 hours of social or community work. 

“IB has really taken off in the last few years and it’s definitely becoming more prevalent,” Westergaard said. “We’re seeing these students more and more and I think the program’s going to continue to grow as more people become familiar with its many benefits.” 

In addition to private schools in Flint, Pontiac and Waterford, IB curriculum can be found in 30 public school districts, including Bloomfield Hills, Troy, Royal Oak, Oxford, Dexter, Berkley and Utica. 

Prior to expanding its IB transfer policy for undergraduates, Oakland has been a destination for teachers working in schools that offer the IB curriculum. OU is one of just 12 universities worldwide to offer IB-recognized teacher development and one of only three universities in the country that supports teachers in the IB Primary Years Program (PYP), Middle Years Program (MYP), and Diploma Program (DP).

“Offering more credit for IB students really solidifies our commitment to International Baccalaureate education,” Westergaard said. “It shows that we believe in the program at all levels and we’re endorsing this education fully.” 

Oakland’s Graduate Certificate in International Education, established in 2008, is a 20-credit program that gives teachers an IB Teacher Award. Also, teachers can use the credits to renew their Michigan’s professional teaching certificate or to work towards a Master of Education in Educational Studies. As of Fall 2013, all courses in the certificate will be offered completely online, enabling international teachers to participate.

In a worldwide first, as of Winter 2013, IB administrators can now enroll in a six-credit sequence offered by Oakland.

To see how IB credits will transfer, view the Diploma Transfer Guide or the Credit Transfer Guide.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.