All About Duke TIP Program

If you dream about your child walking across the lawn at the ivy leagues, Duke TIP may be the ticket. TIP (Talent Identification Program) is a program that identifies gifted children based on standardized test scores and provides resources to assist in nurturing their development. Being part of TIP means that the gifted child has access to programs and services that may not be available at school.

Duke TIP helps gifted kids and also provides valuable resources for their parents, teachers, and school administration. Duke's program is considered a leader in this type of early identification of gifted talent. Since 1980 they have helped over 1.8 million gifted children learn about their exceptional abilities.

Beginning in fourth or fifth grade, students who participate in TIP become part of a network of other gifted children and their families. The annual fee is $25 and for that you get access to advanced testing, a newsletter, and plenty of communication and information about how to give your gifted child everything to reach his or her full potential.

Advanced Level Testing

Although not required, a big advantage of being in TIP is the opportunity for fourth and fifth grade students to take seventh grade level standardized tests. When they reach seventh grade, they take college entrance exams like the SAT. What's the point? Gifted kids often score so high on their own grade-level testing that the results are not useful because they fail to measure variation.

Taking above-level tests gives gifted students and their families a better understanding the student's level relative to gifted peers. This is helpful in determining appropriate challenges for that particular student. Above-level testing can pinpoint areas of strength as well as demonstrate to the child (and school administration if necessary) the child's advanced ability. Tangible test scores can be a strong motivator for kids who may not otherwise realize their uniqueness.

When seventh grade kids take the college entrance exams they receive information about university level resources available to them based on their scores. This can be invaluable both academically and financially.

Other Resources

Testing is the most tangible benefit of joining TIP, but there are other advantages. Students receive valuable publications, formal recognition, and the opportunity to make friends with other gifted children. They are exposed to new and challenging academic opportunities and receive a clear message that developing their intelligence is worthwhile - not to mention fun!

Independent Learning Program

TIP also includes an option for at-home learning. In the Learn on your Own program for grades 4-12, students find a mentor in a particular subject area who will work the student using Duke TIP course materials. Students explore a topic of interest at their own pace. There are also CD-Rom Courses for students in grades 7-12 that provide an interactive, multimedia academic experience on topics not typically studied at the in middle or high-school level.

How Do Kids Qualify?

Students must live in or attend a public, private, or home school within Duke TIP's 16-state region, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Admission into TIP is based on test scores. Students must have scored at the 95th percentile or above on a grade level standardized test, such as those that are routinely given in elementary school. Scores must be from either of the two most recent tests and must not be more than two years old. The student only needs to qualify on one acceptable composite or sub test area.

Added Bonus

 In speaking with parents, I found the most popular motivator for enrolling a qualifying child in Duke TIP program was that the child would be included on a talent search list. The list gets the gifted child in the pipeline and on the radar of a major university. Not a bad deal for $25 a year. - Duke TIP website - Duke Gifted Letter, free - The Educational Opportunity Guide, comprehensive directory of over 400 educational programs for gifted students across the country.

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Comments 48 comments

KDeus profile image

KDeus 4 years ago from Florida

Thank you for sharing this article!

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dukeenergy 5 years ago

I received a letter from my son's school informing me that he scored in the 99.9th percentile in math, science and reading. I have never heard of the Duke Tip program. Should I enroll him in it?

Vernay Justice-Royster 5 years ago

I was just informed that my nephew received an invitation to the Duke Tip program. He scored at the 99% percentile nationally! This is great! Thanks so much for this program!

Jane 5 years ago

I have a now 6th grader that qualified in 4th but I never signed her up for the Duke Tip. Now I realize I probably should have. I am assuming it is too late???

Arya 5 years ago

@Tami Shinedling: Duke TIP is for the southern states, so if you live in Texas your child would be taking the advanced tests for the Duke TIP program.

Tami Shinedling 5 years ago

Does anyone have any comparison Duke TIP, John Hopkins' CTY, Standford and Northwestern's program? We are Texas? I've searched around but haven't found the information I'm seeking. We live in Texas and I have 8 year old.

Thanks for your input!

Laurie 5 years ago

My 7th grade daughter was just invited to the summer programs either at Davidson or Trinity..They are both about 900 miles away but we will be making the trip (financial aid allowing) I see a few comments about Trinity but would love to see some feedback about Davidson College.

Stephanie the TIPster 6 years ago


I went in 2009 to the Trinity campus as a rising seventh grader and it was the best time of my life. I didn't get to go in 2010 because of a school trip, but I still talk to my friends from Trinity, even the ones who went again in 2010. Most people I know, including myself went to Trinity as a tester, since it was small and closer to home (I live in Texas as well). The next year almost all applied or went to the Duke campus. People had said how Trinity did have fewer activities like the field trips, shopping excursions and afternoon electives, but as a 7th grader I was never bored.

On the quality side, it was wonderful. I took a science course which cover bio, chem, and physics. My teacher was a high school teacher, but really took the time to understand and get to know us. For what it's worth, science in school was a breeze thanks to TIP.

I apologize in advance for any spelling mistakes, I'm on my IPod, and I hope I helped.

Scott 6 years ago

and I see now tat the classes are for 7th grade and up. Good thing my son has better reading comprehension than me.

Scott 6 years ago

My son was just sent an invitation to join the Duke TIP. Since it's a summer program, how does it work with year round schools? I'm not really interested in taking up the only 3 weeks my kids will have off in the summer taking classes (certainly not for a 4th grader). What is the benefit of this program otherwise?

onlydbest 6 years ago

Anyone has done TIP summer at Trinity or Davidson? I wonder how it compares to the quality at Duke East. My HS daughter went to Duke and her writing teacher was a college prof and the whole experience was phenom. For my 7th grader, I wonder if the quality of teaching is same at Trinity. We live in TX and the commute savings will be a bonus.

MorningMoon 6 years ago

Miaomiao-Duke TIP is at several different locations, and has a program at Texas A&M. Several of my friends went there this year, and loved it, but I highly recommend Duke East/West for high schoolers. It might be a little farther from home, but the experience is worth while.

I've done two years of TIP, and it's improved my writing skills greatly. The kids there have also inspired me to graduate a year early, and take on 10 APs.

Definitely teaches you to be your own person, and acquire some independence.

Claudia-No, it's not! The program spans from 7th grade-10th grade. All you have to do is take the ACT/SAT before February of the year you want to go, and make a qualifying score. There were rising juniors new to the program when I was there.

Claudia 6 years ago

Is it too late to join if you are an 8th grader?

Miaomiao 6 years ago

I wonder if anyone compared the Duke TIP with the John Hopkins CTY program? We live in Texas, is there something similar near by?

Yulia 6 years ago

My son 7th grader will attend Duke TIP this summer at the Trinity College in San Antonio July 11-31. I am seeking a car pooling partners in the Greater Houston. If interested please e mail me

Nicole the 7th Grader 6 years ago

I was invited to go to the Duke Summer Studies Program but the classes were filled :( but i did go to the ceremony and this year I'm going to the Drury University. Next year i will go to Duke Tip Summer studies!

brionna 6 years ago

Hey...7th grader to 7th grader...I qualified also! I was just wondering what campus u guys were going to I'm going to ASU.

a parent from Texas 6 years ago

My son got 680 in reading, 680 in math. What shall we do next???

Lala 6 years ago

Hello, my son was invited for this program in the 5th grade. I enrollled him. Just wanted to mention that the fee is now $35.

HR 7 years ago

Wow, I got a 530, but at least I kow exactly what comes next. If you three received those scores do you not know how to read tables and see where ceromonies are?

cameron 7 years ago

oh wow i got 598 so what now

another 7th grader 7 years ago

i got a 570 what now

7th grader 7 years ago

I just got my SAT scores back, got a 550 on to critical reading which qualifies me for the summer program. Excited to go (if we can afford it)

Kirsta 7 years ago

I am pleased to hear such wonderful reviews. My son was invited to participate in the program and I am attempting to gather information for my husband. He gets very upset when summer break comes because he has to "quit learnin". This is a way for him to feel more complete. The local summer school programs just don't cut it for him.

Xiaomin Chen 7 years ago

I have three school age boys (11, 9, and 5) and all of them are very good students. My second son just received an invitation to enroll in the Duke TIP program. My question is how a parent should react to this without creating a potentially uneasy situation on the other kids.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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susanlang 7 years ago

This program has helped many to excel much further then their dreams. Some of my friends had children in the program and as adults..are very successful today!


Om 7 years ago

Which colleges are these at

A TIP alumna 7 years ago

Some information from a former TIPster: TIP was founded nearly thirty years ago and is based on a program at Johns Hopkins University called the Center for Talented Youth (CTY). There are sister programs at Northwestern University, University of Denver, and Stanford University. All of these programs feature talent searches and summer and school-year academic programs for middle and high school students at a variety of locations around the country and around the world. They also continue to function as critical research centers for the study of exceptional talent and have provided educators and parents with invaluable information on identifying and then meeting the intellectual, social, and emotional needs of gifted learners.

I attended TIP on Duke's East Campus in the early 1990s. As a student from the rural south, the opportunities that came to me as a result of my participation in this program are countless. It remains the single most important academic experience I have had, and among the most important social experiences, as well. TIP, quite literally, changed my life.

If you are the parent of a gifted student, especially one living in an area in which gifted education is not valued or is nonexistent, please, enroll your child in the talent search today. Do this not because you dream of the Ivy League down the road. Do it because your child has current needs that are not fully met by your local school. Do it because gifted students who are unidentified and unserved are at risk for dropping out of school. Do it because your child may not have learned much in school this year, but can make up for much lost time during a three-week summer intensive. Do it because your child can participate in research that aids gifted learners everywhere.

Any TIPster will tell you, TIP is love.

Just me 7 years ago

I had to enroll my daughter as well! Schools are not advocates for children IMO. Please read What High Schools Don't Tell You ....TONS of info that cannot be found anywhere else. Book was a god send for us! Daughter will take the SAT this December...funny thing though...she attended a private school who utilized the program but did not enroll her! FYI!!! Johns Hopkins and Stanford also have talent searches for children of various ages.

Kid with a Laptop 7 years ago

Too true =) I got my letter awhile back. I'm going to the 7th Grade summer program and I can't wait! The classes they offer are so great and I signed up for Creative Writing, which will be so helpful. Duke is great!!!

Erin 7 years ago

I am an eight grade student and I took the Act in seventh grade. I scored high on the Act and went to the Duke TIP Summer Studies program. It was the best experience of my life both academically and socially.

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Lindamom 7 years ago

Hi Everyone - I started my daughter as a 4th-5th grader.  She took ACT's Explore test - an 8th grade test as a 5th grader.  Because it is another above level test, it gives you a chance to get some information a little sooner.  Her scores were so high that the school district gave her an administrative grade skip and put her in pre-AP Algebra I at the time she would have been a 6th grader. That's the academic part of what it can do, but what it did for her emotionally is probably more important - it reflected back to her that she is as smart as she thought that she was - gave her support for being who she is - helped show that she is as different as she has felt.  She has more confidence now - was feeling kind of beat down by always feeling so different.  Now she has some big goals - just took the ACT as a 7th grader and has qualified for more recognition - state recognition and Grand Recognition.  The school district didn't introduce us to Duke TIP at the 4th - 5th grade level.  I enrolled her myself.  The 7th grade talent search seems to be catching on, though, because her middle school did send that home.  She can't wait to get her medals this year.

Bailee 7 years ago


Bailee 7 years ago

I just got my letter march 13,2009 and i cant wait to sign up!

but do you do in it when you're in 5grade?????????????????????

Eric B 8 years ago

For 4th or 5th graders? Sounds like a money making scheme to me. My child doesn't need external motivation to excel. I'll wait till she's in 7th grade.

Lela Davidson profile image

Lela Davidson 8 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas Author

Samantha - congrats! Take full advantage of the program!

Suzy - I'd say the recognition alone is a decent motivator. Your son should be acknowledged at school. Also, 5th graders can take a version of the ACT test for 8th graders, and that can give you good information about his true strengths. My son is taking it next week. I'll be sure to post about the experience.

Everyone - I want to stress the fact that you do NOT need to be asked or invited to participate in TIP. You just need to have a qualifying score. For some reason the teachers in our district do not promote the program and I only learned about it from other parents. You can't rely on the school to be the best advocate for your child. Just log on and sign them up!

samantha frink 8 years ago

i am in it i got my letter today from my teacher

Suzy 8 years ago

Hey, Lela -

My son has been invited to participate in the Duke TIP (it is now $30, btw) as a fourth grader. I definitely see the advantages of the program for 7th graders and up, but am not so sure for 4th and 5th. How does participation benefit him at this age aside from the on-line programs and newsletters provided? Thanks.

Lela Davidson profile image

Lela Davidson 8 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas Author

Thanks Bobbie! Got it.

Bobbie Yandell 8 years ago

Please check your spelling and wording for the last paragraph under "Added Bonus?". It is disturbing to read a university website with gramatical errors.

Thank you,


Lela Davidson profile image

Lela Davidson 8 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas Author


Follow the link above, or The first drop down menu offers Register Online. It will ask for some information, including test scores and the type of test. They also need a code from the school, but all that can be looked up on the form itself. Just make sure you have recent standardized test scores in hand!

bridgette 8 years ago

What are the steps I need to take to get signed up for this program?

a TIP Instructor 8 years ago

The main post on this site indicates that to participate in TIP programs the child must live in TIP's 16 state area. This is not quite true. TIP recruits in this area, but the three week TIP summer programs will also accept foreign students.

Lela Davidson profile image

Lela Davidson 8 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas Author

Thanks Micole, I got it updated.

Micole Roy 8 years ago

This is a great program; however, the enrollment criteria for the 4th/5th grade talent search have changed. Now students must have scored at the 95th percentile or higher to qualify.

Lela Davidson profile image

Lela Davidson 8 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas Author

Stacie, I think these programs are relatively new. Maybe around ten to fifteen years. I'm almost sure there are other similar programs in other regions. Also check out this Hub:

Stacie Naczelnik profile image

Stacie Naczelnik 8 years ago from Seattle

Lela, this is really interesting. I had never heard about Duke TIP, or any program like it, before. I would like to know if there are similar programs for other regions.

Conarissa ann 9 years ago

my child, Milari shawn, has such a gift!!! I would hate for it to go to wast just because she couldn't get into the TIP program.

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