What is the Duke TIP Summer Studies Program?

What do a prominent neurologist, an enterprising data scientist, and a high-ranking biomedical specialist have in common?

Answer: all three got a head start on their ambitions as participants in Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (TIP).

The largest program of its kind, Duke TIP works with gifted individuals to “identify, recognize, challenge, engage, and help students reach their highest potential through above-level testing, academic challenge, educational guidance, customized publications, online resources, and special recognition of their accomplishments.” The signature experience of the program is a series of exciting summer sessions at participating colleges and universities.

To determine eligibility for Duke TIP, applicants must take the SAT or ACT. Although college-bound juniors and seniors normally take these tests as part of their college applications, seventh to tenth graders take them to qualify for the program. In these low-stakes conditions, talented students have the opportunity to determine more exactly the level of their abilities. Those admitted to the program will receive individualized score reports that can provide a foundation for academic planning.

Because of changes to the format of the SAT in the spring, this year’s applicants must take either the December or January SAT. (Scores for the redesigned test will not be accepted because of the potential for inconsistency of scores between the tests and because of the late processing of scores). Students taking the ACT should plan to finish testing by February as well. They need not take the optional ACT Writing section.

Based on their performance, qualified students should apply to the appropriate summer program level. There are two levels: Academy and Center. The following chart summarizes the SAT and ACT score requirements for 7th graders applying to either program:

In the 7th grade, if you took the… and you scored… then you qualify for Academy then you qualify for Center
SAT any one of the following:

M 500-560

CR 500-560

W 500-560

M ≥ 570

CR ≥ 570

W ≥ 570

OR a combination of n/a M ≥ 520 and CR ≥ 520
ACT any one of the following:

E 25-26

M 18-19

R 20-24

S 20-23

E ≥ 27

M ≥ 20

R ≥ 25

S ≥ 24

(It is important to keep in mind that the Duke Talent Identification Program bases its talent search on above-level tests. Seventh grade students should definitely not compare their scores with those of high school juniors.)

Seventh-grade students participating in the Academy Summer Program are placed at Appalachian State University, Austin College, or Rollins College. Seventh-grade students participating in the Center Summer Program are placed at Davidson College, Trinity University, or Wake Forest University.

Three-week sessions on these campuses challenge students  to “think critically about themselves and their world.” Students attend classes for seven hours a week, taking advanced courses ranging from fine arts, social science, and humanities to mathematics, science, and technology. They live in college dormitories, eat in cafeterias, and participate in social activities hosted by Duke TIP leaders. In this environment, they often form friendships that last throughout high school and beyond.

To apply, a student should rank the course offerings he/she is interested in taking, submit the program application and participation agreement, the SAT or ACT score report, the application fee, and a financial aid application or course prerequisite documentation, if applicable. Submitting an application does not guarantee placement because courses fill quickly, and a student may go on a waitlist if all his/her ranked courses have filled.

The Duke TIP summer program can provide gifted middle and high school students with a memorable introduction to the academic rigor and social interactions of college. This exposure often motivates them to perform well in high school and to take the college search seriously. While not all graduates of the program will go on to become distinguished neurologists, data scientists, and biomedical specialists, most participants look back on it as a formative experience and an opportunity not to be missed.

For more information, visit the Duke TIP website.


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  • cindy

    Make sure your child is being taught by an instructor that is actually qualified to teach their STEM course. DUKE TIP often has a hard time finding qualified Computer Science and Engineering instructors and will often hire unqualified people to teach the course. A lot of these non-STEM professionals are hired last minute (A week before the semester starts) in a desperate attempt to put a body in a role.

  • Lee Wingate

    I feel disappointed in the experience that my child had in the Duke TIP program at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.

    My child had a medical issue, which was described on her medical documents, at a social function and we received a call, and EMS was notified. However, instead of treating the medical issue initially, she was told she was having a panic attack and someone immediately stated someone from “psyche” needed to be called. This was upsetting to my child who was on the verge of losing consciousness. In addition, other students were frightened because EMS and police were on the scene and the music was turned up louder, and they were put in another area with no explaination. They were afraid, and other students had panic attacks because of the way it was handled. Treatment was received and the program was continued with a care plan.

    Within days I was notified that my child was ill again, this time with a respiratory infection, yet the symptoms were nausea and vomiting, dizziness and fluid behind the ears. She was given medication. I called to check in and couldn’t get in contact with my child so I called the office. I was told there was no report of absence from class so I felt assured. However, I received a call from my child from the dorm room. Class was not attended, no one knew the whereabouts of my child, and no checks were done. I called the office to let them know where my child was, the illness, and asked if someone could please check in. I was told this would happen every 30 minutes and there was an apology for the confusion.

    I came to visit and upon returning to the school, there was a trip planned for laser tag. I asked if my child would be allowed to go, given the medical issues. I was told “yes”. My child was allowed on the bus and on this trip. Once there, that changed. My child wasn’t allowed to participate and the medical incident was given as the cause, despite what I was told in person upon asking.

    Another trip was made up the mountain. I asked the nurse if laser tag wasn’t allowed, was it safe for her to do this and was it a hike. I was told the temperature would be milder and this was not a hike and shouldn’t be strenuous. Another medical episode occurred after this and it was managed without medical personnel.

    A second trip to the clinic was made and I received a call from the doctor saying my child was there for continued upper respiratory infection and nausea. I had to explain her incident of the day before, as she was not at all notified of any of it. She stated she was glad she called me for more information because it was helpful.

    Then, I received a call from my child stating a one on one meeting occurred in the office for a discussion, suggesting an eating disorder because of the nausea and lack of appetite that was experienced during the time there.
    It was expressed to me that it felt like an interrogation and made my child very uncomfortable.

    All of these things lead me to feel this program is disorganized. I do not feel safe letting my child return in the future.