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What is the AICE Diploma?



As you start drawing out a blueprint for the high school classes you plan to take, you may be trying to fit in as many advanced courses as possible. After all, if college admissions officers see that you challenged yourself with rigorous coursework in high school, they may be more confident that you can handle their tough college curriculum. There are many programs available for advanced classes at the high school level, several of which are known. For example, there are AP and IB courses. However, a lesser known advanced program is the Cambridge AICE.


The Cambridge AICE is an international diploma program that was developed by Cambridge Assessment, a nonprofit branch of the University of Cambridge in England. It is lesser known because it is a newer program (the first diploma was awarded in 1997) and because it is not yet recognized by all colleges and universities in the United States.


Interested in learning more about this new and exciting opportunity to enhance your learning experience, impress colleges, and maybe even get college credit? Read on.


What is AICE?


AICE, or the Advanced International Certificate of Education, is an internationally recognized program that emphasizes the value of broad and balanced study. It offers students the ability to gain an in-depth understanding of subjects that suit their specific passions and interests while developing the tools necessary to succeed in college-level classes. AICE classes are known for being flexible and allowing students to dive into their study of concepts they find interesting, as opposed to AP/IB courses that give a general conceptual overview of a certain subject. Some unique courses offered by the AICE program (that are less common in other programs like AP or IB) include Accounting, Law, and Information Technology.


Students who attend schools that participate in the AICE program have the option to take individual classes from the AICE program or put themselves on track to go through the full course. If you go through the full course and meet certain qualifications (details below), you will qualify for an AICE diploma, which is recognized as an advanced diploma at many universities across the country. You may also be able to use some of your AICE classes to qualify you to opt-out of some introductory college classes during your freshman year.


Where Can You Earn An AICE Diploma?


At this time, students may only participate in the AICE program if their school offers those courses. Currently, AICE is primarily offered in Florida high schools, Toronto, and Great Britain. However, the number of schools that offer this program is growing rapidly, so there may be one in your area. If you want to find a school near you that offers the AICE program, check out this look-up tool.


What are the Financial Costs?


Unlike the AP and IB programs, there are no costs to students or parents for participating in the AICE program, taking the courses, or taking the exams. Your school will pay all of the fees for this program.


Furthermore, if you are a student in the AICE program who lives in Florida, you may be able to get some financial compensation for earning an AICE diploma. If you earn the AICE diploma and complete 100 hours of community service, you automatically become eligible for the Florida Academic Scholars award, an award provided by the Bright Futures Scholarship. You may also be eligible for this scholarship if you don’t get the full AICE diploma, but instead show some combination of AICE coursework, community service hours, and minimum scores on the SAT or ACT.


The AICE program may prove to not only be a great step towards building your knowledge and preparing yourself for college–it could be financially beneficial as well.


Requirements To Earn An AICE Diploma


To earn an AICE Diploma, students must complete a minimum of seven credits at either/both the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) level, where each course is worth one credit, and the Advanced (A) level, where each course is worth two credits.


The only required course in the AICE program is the Cambridge AS Level Global Perspectives & Research course, which is a skills-based course that teaches students to think critically, analyze evidence, and compare different perspectives. A student’s performance in this course is judged by a team project, presentation, and an individual written examination.


The other six credits can be earned from any of 50 Cambridge International AS and A Level subjects, split into these four groups:


  • Group 1: Mathematics and Sciences (example: Biology)
  • Group 2: Languages (example: Arabic)
  • Group 3: Arts and Humanities (example: Economics)
  • Group 4: Interdisciplinary Skills (example: Thinking Skills)


To see a more comprehensive list of courses, check out their class offerings.


Students must complete at least one credit from Groups 1, 2, and 3. The courses in Group 4 are optional. Each course is available at both the AS and the A level. The required core-course counts in Group 4.


AS courses typically last one year whereas A courses typically last two years. Once these courses are completed, the student will need to complete the Cambridge International AS/A Level examinations to earn credit for the course. You must take all of your exams within a 25-month period. The student may be entered for the AICE diploma during their final examination series.


In each subject, you will earn one of the following grades: A*, A, B, C, D, E, or a fail. An A* is the equivalent of an A+ in the US, whereas an E is similar to a US C grade. This implies that each letter grade in an AICE course is counted as more impressive than its American counterpart.


Depending on what grade you earn in each course, you will earn anywhere from 20-60 points per credit. Your cumulative point total for all of your credits will determine the level of distinction at which you will graduate. There are three levels, outlined as follows:


  1. AICE Diploma at Pass Level: 140-249 cumulative points
  2. AICE Diploma with Merit: 250-359 cumulative points
  3. AICE Diploma with Distinction: 360-420 (max) cumulative points

Can You Take Individual Classes Without Earning a Diploma?


Yes! If your school offers the AICE program, you are welcome to take individual classes without entering the program and striving for the AICE diploma. Colleges will still see these courses as advanced and rigorous, so you’ll still be doing good for your college applications. You will also receive an AICE certificate for completing the course as proof of your hard work and accomplishment.


If I Take Individual Classes Without The Diploma, Can I Still Get College Credit For Those Courses?


Absolutely! The AICE certificate you receive for completing an individual course can be used to justify getting college credit for the course. However, whether you get credit or not heavily depends on the university you go to, as some universities still do not recognize the AICE program.


Which Universities in the US recognize AICE and award credits?


Overall, you’ll find that way fewer colleges in the US recognize the AICE program than recognize the AP or IB programs. The colleges that do recognize AICE are clustered around Florida, and the rest tend to be overseas. However, they are rapidly expanding their recognition, so it’s important for you to check whether the universities you are interested in recognize this program.


To explore which colleges and universities in the US recognize the AICE program and award college credit for AICE classes, use this search tool.


Why Take AICE over IB/AP?


AICE is a very new and unique program that gives students the freedom to explore the subjects that they are interested in without getting bogged down by a bunch of requirements and classes they would rather not take. For example, if you want the majority of your credits to come from language courses and only take one Math and Science course, you can do that! With this program, students get to delve deep into their passions. As you’ll be studying things you are genuinely interested in, your grades are likely to be much better.


Furthermore, AICE is an internationally recognized program. If you are thinking you may want to attend college abroad or you want the rigor and unique perspective of international courses, this is definitely the program for you.


AICE also takes a different approach to learning that many students enjoy. Rather than try and hit a wide range of concepts in a single course, as AP and IB courses do, the curriculum in AICE courses are flexible and modular so that teachers can go in-depth on the concepts that students are clearly enjoying and potentially gloss over some other ones. This way, the teacher has the opportunity to maximize student interest and engagement.


For More Information


Interested in earning college credit in high school? Check out these previous blog posts:


Guides for Acing Your AP Exams

Everything You Need to Know About Pre-AP Classes

To IB or Not To IB: Is International Baccalaureate Right for You?

What Are The Benefits of Earning an IB Diploma?


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Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!