Academic Life


At Summer Studies, students are in class from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. All academic work is completed during class hours to allow students to fully participate in residential programming. 

A single TIP Summer Studies course is the equivalent of an entire year of high school study or one semester of college study. Our courses are not designed to provide extra or remedial help in a subject.

Academic model

Duke TIP is committed to creating academic experiences that challenge and inspire students through rigorous learning opportunities in different topics and areas of interest. We recognize that gifted students are a unique group with high intellectual abilities who need and benefit from appropriately paced, advanced learning opportunities. Duke TIP staff strategically work with content and field experts to create learning experiences that lead students through innovative and collaborative academic exploration. Students are encouraged to be creative and take chances, giving them confidence to push their academic limits and develop talents to solve real-world problems.

Curriculum follows our TIPster academic life model, focusing on five main criteria.

1. Rigorous Curriculum

Advancing the classroom experience through high expectations, academic challenge, critical thinking, and application of knowledge.

Sample activities include above-grade-level work, upper levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, student-led decision making, hands-on learning, differentiated instruction, alternative assessment, research, laboratory work, and experimental writing.

2. Critical Inquiry

Analyzing ideas, facts, and contradictions while exploring academic curiosity to develop and communicate informed perspectives.

Sample activities include process creation, design development, comparisons and contrasts, fact-finding, revising, and experiments.

3. Authentic Experiences

Connecting students with academic opportunities to interact with and respond to real-world situations.

Sample activities include field trips, guest speakers, field observations, interactions with professionals, simulations, real-world scenarios, and student-created media.

4. Collaborative Learning

Building academic community with shared goals and engaging intellectual endeavors.

Sample activities include interdisciplinary learning, team presentations, group projects, debates, mock trials, discussions, and seminars.

5. Creative Thought

Generating innovative and original ideas, products, or solutions.

Sample activities include problem-solving with multiple solutions, computer programming, artistic expression, technological solutions, sensory engagement, sketches, videography, and public speaking.

Parent Advice

I would choose a class that is somewhat within your child’s interest but maybe not one that they do already in school. For example, if they take a lot of history in school, they can do a social science but maybe not another history class. Try to pick classes that are complimentary to their interests and not repetition of their knowledge. –Mylene M., TIP Parent, Texas

Student Video

Instructional teams

Duke TIP Instructors and Teaching Assistants are a diverse and talented group of individuals who embrace their role in the academic development of young scholars. Instructors are selected for their expertise in their field of study, and typically include

  • exceptional graduate students enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs,
  • outstanding teachers from public and private schools, and
  • accomplished college and university teaching staff.

Teaching Assistants have at least two years of college coursework and are dedicated to supporting the academic growth and development of the students in collaboration with the Instructor. 

As an additional resource, each site has an Academic Coordinator. The Academic Coordinator supports all elements of the instructional program, assisting with curriculum development, visiting classes regularly, providing feedback to the instructional teams, and helping support the student experience.

Evaluation at Duke TIP

Duke TIP does not assign letter or numeric final grades, nor offer course credit.

The nongraded approach encourages a less competitive environment in which students will become comfortable taking intellectual risks that they might avoid in a stressful grade-driven environment.

During the course, instructional teams holistically evaluate performance and provide feedback using work such as journal entries, presentations, individual research, and class projects. 

End-of-program evaluations

Instructional teams complete an end-of-program student evaluation on areas such as the following:

  • Intellectual processes
  • Work habits
  • Peer interactions
  • Work and products generated in the course

Students who successfully complete the program per the participation policies will have access to this end-of-program evaluation.

Seeking credit for your Duke TIP course

Many families have successfully requested that their local school issue placement or credit for work completed at Duke TIP. If you plan to seek credit, we recommend the following steps:

  • Before Duke TIP begins, call your school counselor, vice principal, or registrar (the person who would grant placement or credit for a student’s work at Duke TIP). Explain that Duke TIP students enroll in one course for three weeks and attend class for 100.5 contact hours.
  • Inform the local school official that at the end of the Duke TIP course, students receive a syllabus and end-of-program evaluation.
  • Students enrolled in Algebra I or Algebra II will take a final exam. A copy of the exam is available upon request at the end of the summer.

School officials will use the information provided to decide whether to grant course placement or credit. We are happy to assist in this process.

Students who intend to include their Duke TIP participation as part of their college admissions portfolio should print and keep a copy of the end-of-program evaluation. We cannot guarantee that copies of the evaluation will be available at a later date, and neither we nor Duke University will produce a transcript for TIP students.

Parent involvement

Parents are an integral part of student success. We hope that you will support your student as they embark on what may be one of the most challenging academic experiences they have ever had.

Every parent will have the opportunity for a face-to-face or telephone conference with the instructional teams on departure day.

Your support may also be needed over the course of the term as you help your child navigate a new environment. If needed, we hope to partner with you to support your child. But if things are going well, you may not hear from TIP over the course of the three weeks.

Technology in the classroom

Students will have access to computers when needed for class-related research and word processing purposes. Though not required, students are allowed to bring a personal device for approved educational use in the classroom, but Duke TIP cannot guarantee internet access on personal devices. Please review the Digital Citizenship Policy for details about the use of electronics at TIP.


To discuss exceptions for students with disabilities, please contact the Coordinator of Accommodations at or (919) 668-9100.

New to Summer Studies? Look for these banners and select them for advice from other parents and students on how to make the most of your Duke TIP experience:

Parent Advice

Throughout this section of our website, you can access advice from actual Duke TIP parents by clicking on the blue banner above. Their advice will then appear in a box of text like this one.