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Four questions (and answers) about the Career-related Programme (CP)

You did the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme, or the Diploma Programme – maybe even all three. But did you know that there’s a new addition to the IB continuum? The IB Career-related Programme (CP) began as a pilot program in 2004 and rolled out to all interested IB World Schools offering the Diploma Programme in 2012. In just two years, it’s expanded to 90 schools (and 480 students) worldwide and continues to grow fast.

What is the CP – who is it meant for?

Like the Diploma Programme, the CP is an academic option open to students entering their final two years of secondary school. There are three main components to the CP: a rigorous academic course-load, a core comprising of four components and a career-related study, which students complete concurrently.

The choice of at least two Diploma Programme courses provides and enhances the theoretical underpinning and academic rigour of the programme.

The Career-related Programme core aims to develop personal qualities and skills and professional habits required for lifelong learning.

The career-related study further supports the programme’s academic strength and provides practical, real-world approaches to learning.

What’s a “career-related study”?

Also called vocational, technical, or professional studies, a career-related education is a course of study that prepares the student for a specific career or position. Career-related studies prepare students for further or higher education, an internship or apprenticeship, or a position in a designated field of interest. It provides the opportunity for students to learn about theories and concepts through application and practice while developing broad-based skills in authentic and meaningful contexts. Graduates of the CP chose programs across a wide array of fields, including engineering, biomedical, business, nursing, automotive technology and sports and cosmetology. Some students may earn a professional qualification, such as a Nurse Assistant certification (CNA), upon completion of their program.

Tell me more about the CP core – is it different from the Diploma Programme requirements?

The components of the core are at the heart of the Career-related Programme and are designed to enhance students’ personal qualities and professional development.

The Career-related Programme core contextualizes the Diploma Programme courses and the career‑related study and draws all aspects of the framework together. The core is designed to develop many of the characteristics and attributes described in the IB learner profile.

All components of the core are mandatory. They are:

  • personal and professional skills
  • service learning
  • language development
  • reflective project

Personal and professional skills

The personal and professional skills course aims to develop responsibility, practical problem-solving, good intellectual habits, ethical understandings, perseverance, resilience, an appreciation of identity and perspective, and an understanding of the complexity of the modern world. Emphasis is on the development of skills needed to successfully navigate higher education, the workplace and society.

A minimum of 90 timetabled hours is expected to be devoted to the personal and professional skills course.

Service learning

Service learning is the practical application of knowledge and skills towards meeting an identified community need. Through service, students develop and apply personal and social skills in real-life situations involving decision-making, problem-solving, initiative, responsibility and accountability for their actions.

A minimum of 50 hours is expected to be devoted to service learning.

Language development

Language development ensures that all students have access and are exposed to an additional language, which is a central tenet of an IB education and will increase their understanding of the wider world. Students are encouraged to begin or extend the study of a language other than their best language that suits their needs, background and context. It develops students in the areas of oral, visual and written linguistic and communicative abilities.

A minimum of 50 hours is expected to be devoted to language development.

Reflective project

The reflective project is an in-depth body of work produced over an extended period and submitted in year 2 of the Career-related Programme. Through the reflective project, students identify, analyse, discuss and evaluate an ethical dilemma associated with an issue from their career-related studies. This work encourages students to engage in personal inquiry, intellectual discovery, creativity, action and reflection, and to develop strong thinking, research and communication skills.

The reflective project is assessed using grades A to E, with A representing the highest level of achievement.

A minimum of 50 hours is expected to be devoted to the reflective project.

What are the benefits of the CP for students and schools?

One of the major advantages that the CP offers students is flexibility: it allows them to both pursue challenging academics and gain professional skills. Unlike any other program available at the secondary school level, the CP lets schools and students design their own course of study and prioritizes students’ interests while still providing a structured and rigorous environment.

CP graduates are prepared for a wide range of post-secondary options, including going on to university, working in the “real world”, and pursuing further professional studies. David Barrs, head of the Anglo-European School in the United Kingdom, agrees, telling the UK’s Telegraph that the CP “opens the IB experience to a wider range of students.” CP students also become part of their school’s IB community and the wider IB family – after graduation, they are welcome to join the 45,000-strong IB global alumni network.

The programme also allows schools to better serve their students because it requires close collaboration between the student and the school. Developing an individualized course of study helps educators understand what their students are interested in, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to best support them to reach their full potential.