About Duke TIP

students laughing during a classroom discussion


The Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) is a nonprofit organization that has served over three million academically talented students in grades 4–12 since it was founded in 1980. Collaborating with educators and parents, TIP helps gifted students assess the extent of their academic abilities with above-grade-level testing, recognizes them for their achievements, and provides them with a variety of enrichment benefits as well as accelerated face-to-face and online educational programs. In addition, TIP is constantly conducting research into the educational, emotional, and social factors impacting the lives of gifted children, and then sharing this research and related advice with our program staff, educators, parents, and the greater gifted community. Our services are designed to augment the efforts of regular schools, not replace them. 

Meeting a critical need

Identifying and serving academically talented students is a tremendous challenge for many educational systems. Faced with the continued pressures of limited budgets and resources—as well as the need to ensure that students meet grade level academic achievement standards—many schools simply do not have the capacity to provide meaningful services for students who perform above their grade level. As a result, children with advanced intellectual abilities are often overlooked in the classroom. Even more commonly, schools may not have the resources and staff to adequately provide the academic resources or the social and emotional support that gifted children require.

How large is the problem? In 2017, Gifted Child Quarterly published research (conducted, in part, by TIP researchers) showing that 20–49% of US elementary and middle school students scored one year or more above grade level in English Language Arts and 14–37% scored one year or more above grade level in mathematics. Such results suggest that millions of students are consistently underchallenged in their current learning environments and performing well below their true academic potential. This dilemma not only thwarts student success; it can have immediate and long-term effects on our country’s workforce and economy.

For all of these reasons, Duke TIP is committed to providing services and programs that can meet the needs of gifted children from all backgrounds, including resources that can be used to supplement or strengthen classroom and homeschooling efforts.  

A history of partnership

TIP's commitment to serving gifted students includes supporting local efforts to better understand, motivate, enrich, and challenge the brightest students in our nation. Since the beginning of our organization, TIP has worked hand-in-hand with classroom teachers, guidance counselors, gifted coordinators, and school administrators to identify and serve gifted students. We respect the critical role that educators play in the success of gifted students and are committed to supporting their efforts. There is never a cost to schools for offering Duke TIP. We also distributed over $4.1 million in financial aid during our 2018–2019 fiscal year to ensure that students from all economic backgrounds could participate in our programs. 

young student posing with her medal

Educational Programs

Duke TIP’s summer residential, weekend, and online educational programs all provide academically talented students with advanced learning opportunities that match their specific learning needs and support their intellectual and social growth. Students in all TIP programs experience appropriately challenging coursework and have the opportunity to build social and emotional bonds with other academically talented peers in safe learning environments. TIP also encourages students to pursue their curiosity and passion within collaborative learning environments and to take intellectual risks without concern about competition, effects on grades, performance, scores, or ranks. And because Duke TIP does not assign grades or homework in its face-to-face programs, or allow participants to study outside of regularly scheduled course time, students have time to forge strong social connections and to build potentially lifelong friendships with their peers.

Key Facts

  • TIP serves more than 450,000 students in grades four through twelve annually through its Academic Talent Search and educational programs. This number includes 100,000 newly identified gifted students each year.

  • TIP has 86 year-round employees and hires approximately 1,200 seasonal employees each year.

  • TIP maintains offices in Durham, North Carolina; Sarasota, Florida; and Austin, Texas.

  • TIP awarded over $4.1 million in financial aid during its 2018–2019 fiscal year, supporting over 17,500 students in their participation in TIP's talent searches and educational programs.