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Online Masters in Gifted and Talented Education Programs

Gifted and talented educators and other professionals work with students who display exceptional aptitude, motivation, and creativity in learning. They may be more curious, educationally more advanced than their peers, think more abstractly, and/or need specialized curricula and opportunities to be challenged in order to further their mental growth and learning. Simultaneously, these students may have unique social and emotional learning needs or may be termed twice-exceptional with behavior and physical challenges in conjunction with gifted and talented capabilities.

Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs are designed for general or special education teachers, administrators, early interventionists, therapists, and behavior analysts. Career paths may lead to positions as a school and career counselor, Gifted Intervention Specialist (GIS), Gifted Education Specialist, Gifted Coordinator, Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT), department head, curriculum developer, or twice exceptionalities educator. Work settings may include general classrooms, gifted and talented classrooms, special education departments, specialty clinics, administrative settings, and counseling/therapy settings.

What is a Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education Degree?

Online gifted and talented master’s in education programs prepare graduates to support and advocate for gifted, talented, and creative students and those with gifted abilities side-by-side with behavioral, physical, and mental health challenges. GATE specialists must be proficient at identifying and using evidence-based practices and learning modalities specifically designed to help these children reach their full learning potential, while at the same time being able to socialize and express their emotions in healthy ways. Gifted and talented educators also collaborate with families, administrators, classroom teachers, and other professionals to create programs specifically designed to meet individual student’s needs.

Master’s programs in the field follow the standards published by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) through the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). As well, these programs may be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) or the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP).

Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education Programs

Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education programs are designed for educators with teaching licensure or other professionals who want to advance into leadership and specialty roles in gifted and talented education. Most applicants already have classroom, administrative, or other professional experience working with children. Gifted and talented master’s programs take about 18 to 24 months to complete, with many programs falling in the 18-month range. It is important to note that online degree programs offer the same curriculum and have the same requirements as their campus-based equivalents.

Online gifted and talented education programs deliver courses through learning management systems (LMS) which may include live online instruction (also known as synchronous instruction) along with asynchronous course materials that students can access and complete on their own schedule without weekly scheduled lectures. There are also online programs that deliver all (or the majority) of their course content through asynchronous instruction that do not incorporate required live online sessions in the curriculum. The types of instruction methods used can vary by program or vary by course within a program, depending on the school and the professors/instructors teaching the courses.

Students should evaluate their preferred learning style and their other time commitments to determine if they would prefer an online program that more closely mirrors a campus-based program with live online classes or if they need maximum scheduling flexibility that allows them to complete course materials at any time day or night.

How Identifies and Classifies Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education Programs

Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education programs are typically offered as Master of Arts (MA), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.), or a Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) degree through science or education departments. Programs typically follow standard gifted and talented curricula but may differ in specializations or areas of focus, such as administration more than teaching. Example program names may include:

  • Online Master of Arts in Gifted Education
  • Online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) – Talented and Gifted Education
  • Online Master of Science in Education in Gifted, Talented, and Creative
  • Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction – Gifted Education
  • Online M.Ed. in Special and Gifted Education – Twice Exceptionalities

Through independent research of master’s programs in gifted and talented education, identifies programs that are offered fully online or include no more than two campus visits per year (programs that require more than two visits per year are classified as hybrid programs and are not included on the site at this time). Gifted and talented education programs typically include field experiences in gifted and talented education settings or clinical settings with gifted, talented, or exceptionally creative students. Most programs allow online students to complete these placements in a local that is within commuting distance to their place of residence. In addition, online programs on the site must be offered by regionally accredited, non-profit colleges and universities in order to be included in our database of programs.

What Students Learn in Online Master’s in GATE Programs

Online master’s programs in the field cover research, teacher training, and services related to gifted, talented, and creative students. Topics include identifying exceptional students, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and developing curricula or modifying existing curricula to meet their needs for deeper, more challenging educational and creative experiences. Graduate students learn how to effectively work with talented students to nurture their creativity and advanced intellect, while also addressing social and emotional learning needs.

Master’s curricula cover the characteristics and identification of gifted students; creativity and analytical thinking; research inquiry and evaluation; creative and challenging classroom environments; action research and research methods; gifted and talented assessment, evaluation, and program development; collaboration with families, teachers, and other support professionals; and the use of technology in gifted programs.

Common Courses in Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education Programs

The table below provides an overview of coursework that is typical of a Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education program. The graduate courses and descriptions are drawn from actual online master’s programs.

Course TitleCourse Description
Introduction to Research and Evaluation in EducationAn overview of educational research and inquiry from quantitative, qualitative, controlled, and naturalistic perspectives; and students discover and critically interpret published research.
Testing and Measurement in Gifted Education: MethodsExamines past and current aspects of testing and measurement in gifted education; covers types of tests, the history and use of IQ tests, testing for gifted education services, achievement measurement, and ability testing.
Creating Learning Environments for Gifted, Creative, or Talented Children and YouthCovers learning environments, classroom management, and classroom dynamics for gifted, creative, or talented students, and includes exposure to instructional strategies and supports for these students.
Advising the Gifted Learner: Social and Emotional NeedsExamines the social and emotional development of gifted learners, family issues concerning the needs of gifted individuals, and education planning and guidance.
Curriculum Development for Gifted and Talented LearnersTeaches educators how to develop elementary, middle, and high school curricula for gifted and talented students covering a wide range of abilities and needs; modify curriculum to meet the needs of specific gifted and talented learners; and explore and analyze current models for teaching gifted and talented students.
Collaboration on Behalf of Gifted, Creative, or Talented Children and YouthCovers collaboration, consultation, and communication concerning gifted, creative, and talented children and youth in culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse populations; and examines interrelationships, identification, and respect concerning these children and their families.
Technology in Gifted EducationExplores how to integrate technology into the curriculum and assessment methods of gifted and talented populations through research and analysis; and covers web-based programming, assistive technologies, and other resources for enriching gifted and talented learning experiences.
Differentiated Instruction for Gifted and Talented LearnersStudents conduct a comprehensive study of differentiation strategies to meet the needs of gifted and talented learners, creating learning experiences that offer choices and are sufficiently challenging for learners who need more complex and profound learning experiences.
Identification, Nature, and Needs of the Gifted, Talented, and CreativeA thorough study of the characteristics, identification methods, education services, and social needs of gifted, talented, and creative learners in various educational settings.
Creativity and Analytical ThinkingExplores what creativity is, how it is developed and how to adapt existing curriculum to promote creative and analytical thinking skills; covers theoretical and practical facets of creativity and analytical thinking; covers creative thinking assessments and techniques for examining the creative process; and provides the opportunity for educators to enhance their own personal creative abilities.

Admissions to Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education Programs

Online Master’s in GATE programs require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and often have a minimum GPA requirement of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (although GPA requirements vary by school and some may accept students with a GPA lower than 3.0). While specific admissions requirements and criteria vary by school, applicants typically have to submit an online application, official transcripts from all undergraduate degree programs, transcripts from any master’s courses or degrees completed by the applicant (if applicable), a statement of purpose and/or writing sample, a resume or CV, and letters of recommendation. Some programs also require an application fee, and proof of English language proficiency when necessary.

Many Master’s in Education programs are designed for educators who have already earned their teaching license, but there are also Master of Arts in Teaching programs designed for applicants who would like to enter the field of education and teaching. Finally, many programs no longer require applicants to submit standardized graduate test scores from the GRE or Miller Analogies Test, although students can often submit scores if they think their scores will strengthen their application. Students should carefully review admissions requirements for their programs of interest to determine if scores from a standardized test are still required.

Online Masters in Gifted and Talented Education Format Options

Online Master’s in Education programs seek to provide flexibility to educators and professionals who may work full-time and have other commitments while pursuing a graduate degree. Outlined below are structural and instructional variables that prospective students should consider as they explore online programs. These variables include online instructional methods, enrollment options, and required campus visits.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: Synchronous and asynchronous online instruction vary in that synchronous instruction includes live, weekly lectures or discussion sessions that take place via video conferencing, whereas asynchronous instruction does not have a live component that requires students to be online at specific times. Synchronous sessions may occur once or twice per week, usually in the evenings or on weekends. Both types of instruction may include readings, assignments, projects, research, assessments, and participation in online discussion boards, and asynchronous instruction typically includes recorded lectures in lieu of live class sessions.

When comparing the two, synchronous instruction is more similar to a campus-based program where students can interact with professors and classmates in real-time, which may benefit students who need a more structured online learning environment. Conversely, asynchronous instruction provides additional flexibility for working professionals who may have difficulty attending routinely scheduled classes and who need the ability to log in and review course materials on their own schedule. Those considering online master’s programs should assess their current work and personal obligations, along with their preferred learning style, to ensure they choose a program that offers an instruction method that will best meet their needs.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time Enrollment: As most master’s programs in education are designed for working professionals, many offer part-time enrollment options which may be appealing to students who plan to continue working while pursuing their master’s degree. While enrolling part-time extends the time to graduation, it allows students to take fewer courses per term. Typically, students who enroll full-time can graduate in 12 to 18 months while taking two or three classes per term, whereas students who enroll part-time can graduate in 18 to 24 months or longer taking one course per term.

Additionally, some programs may offer alternative academic calendars that allow students to take one accelerated course per term that is shorter than the traditional 10-week quarter or 15-week semester. These schools may offer courses that can be completed in 5 to 8-week sessions, allowing students to complete one course at a time over the same time period as students taking two courses concurrently (which equates to full-time enrollment). It is important to note that actual program lengths depend on the number of required credits, the rate at which courses are taken, the applicant’s background, and if the applicant has already completed graduate credits which can be transferred towards their master’s degree.

Campus Visits: Certain master’s in education programs may require attendance at one or more campus visits. Whether offered as an orientation, immersion, or residency, campus experiences may foster relationship-building, social and professional networking, hands-on training, and the opportunity to learn from guest speakers and industry experts. Campus visits can be a valuable addition to an online program and students who value face-to-face communication may want to seek out a program that incorporates campus visits into their curriculum. However, for educators who cannot or would prefer not to have to travel to a campus location during their degree program, programs that offer fully online coursework and local field experiences may be more desirable. does not currently include online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education programs that require more than two campus visits per year.