Duke TIP

Who We Are

The Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving academically gifted and talented youth. As a world leader in gifted and talented education, Duke TIP works with students, their families, and educators to identify, recognize, challenge, engage, and help students reach their highest potential. 

Children with advanced intellectual and academic abilities continually perplex and challenge educators and parents, and schools may not have the resources and staff to adequately provide for the academic challenges, and social and emotional support that gifted children require. For these reasons, Duke TIP is committed to providing services and programs beyond what is offered in the classroom to meet the individual needs of gifted children.

In addition, for a variety of reasons, many gifted children simply do not reach their full potential. Exceptionally bright students often go unrecognized because they hide their talents, underachieve, or exhibit behavioral problems. A disproportionately large number of minority students, children from families where English is not the primary spoken language in the home, and students from less affluent families are all at risk for not being identified as gifted. Our research and educational programs address all of these concerns as we seek to support gifted students regardless of their backgrounds.

Duke TIP enjoys a long history, dating back to 1980, of supporting and extending local efforts to better understand, motivate, enrich, and academically challenge the brightest students in our nation. Today, Duke TIP offers a wide array of services to students at critical points in their education. 

Qualifying fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students may participate in Duke TIP's 4th–6th Grade Talent Search and may take advantage of its optional above-level testing. The 7th Grade Talent Search, which focuses on the identification, recognition, and support of high-ability students, offers qualifying seventh grade students the opportunity to take college entrance exams alongside high school students. Many 7th Grade Talent Search participants go on to earn exceptionally high scores. Talent Search participants in grades 5-12 can also elect to attend TIP's renowned residential programs, which challenge gifted students academically within a uniquely supportive social community. Duke TIP also offers gifted students a wide range of independent and distance learning courses.

Our Mission

The Duke University Talent Identification Program is dedicated to being a global leader in identifying academically talented students and providing innovative programs to support the development of their optimal educational potential. Programs for students, families, and educators will be of such excellence that they will become models for the education of academically talented students worldwide.

Our Executive Director

Martha Putallaz, PhD, has served as the executive director of the Duke University Talent Identification Program since 2004. 

An expert in children’s social development, Dr. Putallaz has been a member of the faculty of Duke’s Psychology Department for more than 25 years. Prior to joining the faculty at Duke, Dr. Putallaz served on the faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Under Dr. Putallaz’s leadership, Duke TIP has served more than 900,000 gifted students through TIP’s Talent Searches and unique summer and academic year programs.

Dr. Putallaz has performed extensive research in the field of children’s social development, with recent work focusing on peer relationships and adjustment of academically gifted students. In previous research, she has examined aggression, victimization, and social rejection among girls.

Dr. Putallaz earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College and completed her doctoral degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her husband, Blair Sheppard, is the former dean of the Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and currently serves as the Global Leader of Strategy and Leadership Development for PricewaterhouseCoopers and chairman of the board for Duke Corporate Education. Martha's and Blair’s two children also attended Duke University.