Comparing the German International Abitur to other Diplomas and Courses of Study

Understanding the similarities and differences between the German International Abitur (DIA), the International Baccaulareate Diploma Programme (IB), and a traditional High School Diploma with Advanced Placement (AP) courses is helpful in making decisions about your child’s future academic path.


HS Diploma with Advanced Placement (AP) courses

German International Abitur - the DIA

International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB)

Administered & awarded by

Local school disctrict

Permanent Conference of the Dept. of Education of the Federal Republic of Germany (Kultusministerkonferenz - KMK)

International Baccalaureate Organization

Number of subjects

High School students are required to satisfy specific requirements, set at the state or local level, and can select individual subjects to take as an AP course depending on their school’s offerings.

Students are required to take the following subjects taught across 2 years in Grades 11-12: German, English, and Math plus additional courses in subjects including History, Social Studies, Music, Art, Ethics, Physical Education French, Latin, Spanish,Biology, Chemistry, Physics. Each school has its own offerings.

Students select a mix of standard and higher-level courses in 6 areas, taught across Grades 11-12. 1. Language and Literature 2. Language Acquisition 3. Individuals & Societies (social sciences) 4. Sciences 5. Mathematics 6. Arts. Students may make limited substitutions. Students must also complete a Theory of Knowledge course, submit a 4,000 word Extended Essay and fulfill requirements for creativity, activity, and service projects.

Choice of Classes

Students choose which subjects to take as an AP course. Within their school’s offerings, there may also be honors or on-level courses, providing a differing level of academic rigor.

Each school allows students some choice with regards to electives. For example, they may choose to pursue a third foreign language or add an additional science.

Students choose their class for each subject area, and also choose the combination of Higher Level and Standard Level courses, based on the school’s offerings and teacher recommendations.

College Entry

A HS diploma and AP courses do not guarantee acceptance into college. AP courses are well-regarded by prestigious universities worldwide.

The DIA offers entry into any German university. There are some competitive programs that may require a particular score or have other enrollment requirements. The DIA is well-regarded by prestigious universities worldwide.

The IB Diploma does not guarantee acceptance into any college. The IB Diploma is well-regarded by prestigious universities worldwide.

College Credit

Universities may offer credit for AP courses with a score of 4 or 5 out of a possible 5.

Universities may offer credit for successful Abitur exam results.

Universities may offer credit for IB Higher Level classes with a score of 6 or 7 out of a possible 7.

Partial Credit





Students take one exam per AP course. Exam format differs by course matter. Exams are administered worldwide at the same time.

Students must take 5 exams. Exam 1: German - written. Exam 2: Math, English or 2nd Foreign Language - written 3: Any of the above or. Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, or other subject offered at each school - written. Exam 4: Oral. Also chosen from the list above, cannot be the same as Exam 2 or 3, and has been studied for at least 3 years. Exam 5: Oral. In the form of a presentation. 50% of the exams must be conducted in German. The remainder may be in another language or bilingual. Exams are administered in the same period across geographic regions.

Students take one exam for each of the 6 courses. Language exams have both written and oral components. Other exams may have multiple papers or components. Exams are administered worldwide at the same time.

North American Schools with the program

22,169 in the US and 84 in Canada (2018, The College Board)

5 (4 in the US, 1 in Canada)

940 (2018, International Baccalaureate Organization). 185 in Canada