Colleges that favor IB Diploma students

Hi all,

My daughter is a Junior pursuing IB Diploma in a California public School. We are in the process of figuring out which colleges she should apply so that we can create our safety, target and Reach list. Mainly looking for schools that favor IB diploma students.

She will be in the top 10% of her class (3.9 UW GPA), going test optional.
She has done some EC’s related to Music (School band, Community band), science and Medicine (shadowing, AIM program from BU, science olympiad, tutoring).
She is also the president for the IB Board in her school and has attended RR leadership program and conducted a food drive for local school during COVID.

We will not be eligible for FA and will end be paying full tuition unless she gets merit awards. She prefers private schools that have good pre med programs and has a better chance of getting into Med school. All good UC’s (UCB, UCLA, UCSD) are going to be a reach for us, so we are not considering UC’s at this point.

Any advice/thoughts on which schools to consider/apply would be super helpful!

One good way to split them is big/medium/small and urban/suburban/rural. Ohio State and Kenyon are about 50 miles apart but a world of difference. What is her backup plan to med school? Understanding what needs to be offered helps define the universe. Does she want backups in engineering, business or health science?

Her backup is Health sciences either teaching or doing research.


Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas and the University of Tulsa are private schools which are very IB friendly.

Students admitted to SMU and who have completed the IB diploma receive a scholarship of $7500/year. However, tuition and cost of attendance is still VERY EXPENSIVE! If it matters to you or to your daughter, California students are very well-represented at SMU. It will be test-optional for at least another year.

I am not certain about IB scholarships, per se, but the University of Tulsa is very generous with awarding IB credit (HL and SL)…up to 30 hours credit for an IB score of 28. It, too, is still a bit pricey if you are full-pay. It is NOT test-optional.

If things change and a public school is an option, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers $15k/year for every student who has an IB diploma and a 25 or above on the ACT. That makes the cost of attendance less than $30k/year. Nebraska will even give 3 hours of philosophy credit with a passing grade in TOK.

I am not an expert on pre-med programs, but I would anticipate excelling academically at any of these schools and scoring well on the MCAT would provide ample opportunities for medical school acceptances. I personally know some very successful doctors who are SMU graduates.

Based on your daughters stats:


Best of luck!

IB credit for courses that happen to be pre-med course requirements can create some issues with medical school applications. See FAQ Pre-med courses, AP/IB/etc. credit and college/DE courses, etc. .

Is she open to schools in the upper midwest? Lots of small LACs that like IB students and give merit aid: St. Olaf, Lawrence, Grinnell, Ripon, U of MN-Morris, Gustavus. I am a doctor and have classmates who went to all of these. Also, if you are looking in California, I have a doctor friend who did undergrad at Sonoma State and had a great experience.


Yes, we heard about that. We are not looking for IB credit as medical schools don’t like that. Mainly looking for colleges that favor admission to IB diploma students so that her chances of getting admitted is higher. I read in the CC that Notre Dame likes IBD but it is a reach school.
Looks like this year is pretty competitive and lot of kids with good stats are getting deferred. She is interested in North Eastern University and George Washington University.

Thank you, I will look at the LAC’s you have mentioned here.

Most colleges that look at rigor will consider IB diploma or IB courses as high rigor. Or do you mean colleges that specifically favor IB over other high rigor course work that high school students may choose or have available to them (e.g. AP courses, college / dual enrollment courses)?


We are planning to apply to SMU. I thought it will be a target :slight_smile: , I have to do more research on that.
Will look at University of Nebraska for safety.

1 Like

I meant colleges that specifically favor IB over high rigor course work.

I’m curious why you think SMU is even a partial reach for a top 10% kid with a 3.9 GPA and full IB diploma. Isn’t their admit rate in the mid 50%s?

1 Like

I am sure there are numerous posters here on CC who are able to quantify “reach”, “target”, and “safety” better than I. If they say SMU is more of a “target” for your daughter, then I will defer to their expertise.

Your daughter’s GPA and IB curriculum should be enough to earn her admission along with the IB scholarship. Nevertheless, I still would not completely underestimate the competitiveness of being admitted to SMU…especially applying test-optional.

Union has a BSMD program and will give a student with an IBD one year of placement at the end of a successful freshman year (or did when we were looking)… They also give merit. Finishing UG in 3 years with merit can save $ and time – possibly interesting for someone with a long, expensive path in from of them.

Earlham does a great job with premeds and also offers merit. I don’t recall a specific lift for IBD holders.

1 Like

Do you mean LIM FAQs | Leadership in Medicine | Union College ? Note the 3.50 college GPA required to stay in the program.

She has a 3.9 UW GPA and is doing a rigorous IB program. I am unclear why you think she can’t get into the top UC’s. Yes, they are reaches, but she has a shot, and a not unrealistic one at that.

In fact, she has a shot at a lot of great schools. College know that an IB diploma is very rigorous. Most colleges will favor a kid who’s completed the IB diploma. By all means have a balanced list, but she can aim high if she likes.

Has she considered any LACs? A lot of them have excellent med school acceptance rates, in part because they have very good advising for premeds. All the NESCACs are worth a look, and she might get merit aid at Conn College or Trinity. There are many other excellent LACs too. The Claremont consortium, Swarthmore, Carleton, Haverford, Union, Macalester, Lafayette, many others.

Remember that students can be premed at almost any college. It’s about taking the right courses, getting the highest grades, and doing well on the MCAT.

1 Like

I assume most students planning to go to med school will have a 3.5…

We will check it out. Since BS/MD programs are super competitive and students applying there have some kind of research experience we did not explore that program.

Only the Top 4-5% of the high school class gets into Top UC’s. We will be applying to all of the UC’s but we consider the top ones as a reach.

We are still compiling our list. This is what we have for now, and most of them are a reach. We are not completely sure which ones will be safety, target or reach.

We are open to suggestions, since we are on the west coast we only know about the LAC’s and universities around our area and some well known from east coast. I will take a look at the LAC’s you have mentioned.

Tufts - They have Early assurance program, we might do a ED on this.
University of Chicago
Notre Dame
Claremont McKenna College

Target: not sure if these are target or reach considering the increase in applicants this year and lower acceptance rate.

Northeastern University
Boston University
Case Western
Grinnell College

American University
George Washington University
University of Colorado at Boulder (Dad is an active alumni)
Santa Clara University
some UC’s

American University is one of those schools that considers level of applicant’s interest to be very important, and does not like being used as a “safety”. Expect a waitlist or rejection if the student appears overqualified and does not show interest that makes them think that they are a top choice, rather than a backup (especially behind George Washington and/or Georgetown).

1 Like