Earning a Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education Online

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Educators of gifted and talented learners encourage intellectual growth and creativity in over three million students across the country. Individuals with a master's in gifted and talented education can also act as program directors and curriculum specialists for gifted learner programs. Many educators achieve their career goals by enrolling in gifted and talented master's degree programs online. Online programs feature flexible and accessible formats that make it easier for educators to advance their careers while remaining employed. Additionally, master's degree holders are often qualified to take on leadership roles in gifted and talented education, enjoying higher salaries and increased job growth potential.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master’s Degree in Gifted and Talented Education?

Many students enrolled in gifted and talented master's degree programs online are working educators who want to obtain specialized training, move into different educational subfields, and/or advance their careers. Educators with a master's degree often qualify for higher salaries and positions that feature increased responsibility. A master's in gifted and talented education provides teachers at all grade levels with new skills, specialized instructional strategies, and deeper insight into the profession.

Why Get a Master’s Degree in Gifted and Talented Education?

Pursuing Specialization

Few undergraduate-level teacher preparation programs offer concentrations in gifted and talented education. By pursuing a master's degree, educators gain the specialized training needed to work in gifted and talented classrooms or as program directors. Graduate-level coursework also prepares candidates to seek administrative roles in educational settings, such as curriculum specialists or gifted and talented program directors. In addition, master’s candidates build valuable and versatile skills related to assessment and research.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Professionals with a graduate degree typically earn more than those who only hold a bachelor’s, and many teachers pursue a master's degree to advance their careers. A master’s qualifies candidates for school administrative positions, which often lead to increased responsibility and higher salaries. Candidates who enroll in gifted and talented master's degree programs online can often continue teaching while studying.

Online Learning Technology

Education increasingly relies on distance learning tools and online programs, and students who master emerging technologies are better equipped to teach in today’s high-tech classrooms. An online gifted and talented master's degree familiarizes graduate students with many communication technologies. Instructors proficient in online learning strategies and tools should be more adept at educating students, developing engaging lesson plans, and handling administrative responsibilities within schools and districts.

Prerequisites for Online Gifted and Talented Education Programs

Most graduate-level gifted and talented education programs expect candidates to meet certain prerequisites before gaining admission. While individual guidelines vary by school, the following section explores some common requirements.

    • Work Experience: Some graduate programs prefer applicants with relevant work experience, although few specify an exact number of years. Students with classroom teaching experience have a greater understanding of their professional strengths and personal interests, making them better equipped to choose a focus area. Experience also helps learners succeed as they complete advanced coursework and perform original research.
    • Exams and Test Scores: Many programs expect applicants to provide their GRE or MAT scores, and some define a minimum score for admission. GRE and MAT scores remain valid for five years.
    • Coursework: Gifted and talented master's programs may set coursework prerequisites and only accept applicants who have completed certain undergraduate classes. Prospective students may also be required to hold a valid teaching license, which typically requires a bachelor's degree from an approved educator preparation program. In addition, many schools set a minimum GPA for admission; this often ranges from 2.5-3.0.
    • Recommendations: Prospective graduate students may be asked to provide two or three letters of recommendation written by professors or supervisors. These letters should speak to an applicant's professional and academic abilities. Candidates should provide their letter writers with at least three weeks' notice before the application deadline.
    • Essays: Education programs often evaluate applicants based on essays. Many schools require a short essay explaining an applicant's interest in gifted and talented education, their career goals, and their academic strengths. The essay may also relate to an applicant's prior experience with gifted and talented learners and how they plan to succeed in the program.
    • Interviews: Some institutions evaluate potential students through an interview process. Online programs, for example, may conduct virtual interviews to ensure that distance education is a good option for an applicant. During interviews, applicants speak with faculty members or admissions advisers, describing their qualifications and goals.
    • International Students: Most programs require international applicants to provide proof of English language proficiency, which can be done by submitting TOEFL scores. Many schools set a minimum score for admission.

How Much Can I Make with a Master’s Degree in Gifted and Talented Education?

Professionals with a master's degree in gifted and talented education work in a variety of settings and positions, educating age groups from preschool through high school. Many roles that require a master’s degree feature higher salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for elementary and secondary education administrators exceeds $95,000, with those in the 10th percentile earning over $61,000 and those in the 90th percentile drawing nearly $145,000 each year.

Traditional Careers for Master's in Gifted and Talented Education Graduates

Careers Stats Description

Education Program Director

Median Salary: $61,000

Education program directors oversee their school’s academic curricula. They develop, create, and implement appropriate curricula, working with teachers to ensure each program’s efficacy. Education program directors are also tasked with meeting their school's educational standards and evaluating student learning outcomes.

Elementary School Teacher

Median Salary: $57,980

Job Growth: 7%

Elementary school teachers help students learn basic skills, such as reading, writing, and mathematics. They teach in multiple content areas, often working with a single class. Gifted and talented elementary school teachers assess and identify gifted learners and create differentiated instructional materials for exceptional students.

Instructional Coordinator

Median Salary: $64,450

Job Growth: 11%

Instructional coordinators evaluate curricula and teaching techniques to assess efficacy and improve learning outcomes. Also known as curriculum specialists, they observe classrooms, analyze test data, and recommend curriculum changes based on their findings.

Middle School Teacher

Median Salary: $58,600

Job Growth: 8%

Middle school teachers provide instruction for grades six through eight, often teaching a single subject to multiple classes. They specialize in areas like language arts, social studies, mathematics, or science. Gifted and talented middle school teachers assess student abilities and create individualized lessons for gifted learners.

Source: BLS

Nontraditional Careers for Gifted and Talented Education Graduates

While many professionals who earn a master's in gifted and talented education online work as teachers or school administrators, this degree can also prepare graduates for other types of career opportunities. A gifted and talented education master's degree provides participants with a versatile skill set, and some graduates pursue careers as training managers and educational directors.

Careers Stats Description

Associate Director of Education

Median Salary: $55,835

Skills Overlapped: Assessment and curriculum oversight, communication skills

Associate directors of education work from the preschool to college level, overseeing academic affairs and daily school operations. They hire staff members, oversee curricula, and plan their institution’s academic calendar.

Special Education Teacher

Median Salary: $59,780

Job Growth: 8%

Skills Overlapped: Assessment and differentiation of instruction, creativity, and communication

Working at the K-12 level, special education teachers develop instructional strategies and lesson plans based on student needs. They also assess learners and implement individualized educational plans. Many districts categorize gifted and talented education under the umbrella of special education.

Training and Development Manager

Median Salary: $111,340

Job Growth: 10%

Skills Overlapped: Planning educational materials, evaluating program effectiveness

Working with one or more companies, training and development managers supervise professional training programs. They oversee staff, create or select appropriate course materials for workplace training, and collaborate with other experts to provide relevant instruction for an organization.

Source: BLS

Paying for an Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education

The cost of earning a master's in gifted and talented education online varies according to program and school. Public institutions charge in-state students the lowest tuition rates, although many online programs charge all distance learners the same tuition. While private schools usually charge higher rates, they may provide substantial financial aid packages.

Students can also try and reduce costs by choosing an accelerated program or applying transfer credits toward their master’s degree. Many candidates also qualify for federal financial aid opportunities, such as the TEACH grant program.

Scholarships for Online Gifted and Talented Education Master's Students

Many distance learners apply for scholarships to help cover educational costs. Unlike loans, scholarships, fellowships, and grants do not need to be repaid, making them the most cost-effective source of funding. A variety of private companies, nonprofit organizations, and special interest groups sponsor scholarship opportunities, including the examples listed below.

What to Expect from a Master’s-level Online Gifted and Talented Education Program

While program specifications can vary considerably between schools, curricula for online gifted and talented master's degree programs typically include core classes, electives, and a master's thesis or comprehensive examination. Graduate students work with a faculty adviser to meet graduation requirements, often earning their degree in 1-2 years. Depending on their non-academic obligations, candidates may also choose to enroll in a part-time or accelerated program.

Major Milestones

  1. Orientation

    Online students often participate in a virtual or on-campus orientation after gaining admission into a program. During orientation, students meet with potential faculty advisers and fellow graduate students.

  2. Core Coursework

    Most gifted and talented education programs include 15-24 core course credits, including classes in assessment, evaluation, and teaching methods.

  3. Elective Coursework

    Many master’s-level education programs let students choose a concentration or specialization. Learners personalize their degree through elective coursework.

  4. Master's Thesis

    Some programs culminate in a master's thesis, which requires graduate students to research a problem or issue in gifted and talented education and write a research paper. Candidates must defend this thesis before their faculty adviser and committee.

  5. Master's Exams

    Programs that feature a nonthesis option typically require candidates to complete comprehensive examinations instead of a thesis. Exams may include written and/or oral components.

  6. Graduation

    Before graduation, master's students typically need to file an intent to graduate form, which demonstrates that they have fulfilled their program's graduation requirements.

Coursework

Online master's programs in gifted and talented education usually incorporate courses on pedagogy, leadership, and assessment in gifted education. The list below describes a few common course offerings in these programs.

Gifted Education

This overview course surveys the history of gifted education, research and theory, and current best practices in the field. Students explore program delivery options, the identification process, and diversity within gifted classrooms.

Creativity in Education

Candidates studying creativity in education examine the benefits of creative thinking in the classroom. Learners explore the creative process, research related to creativity, and teaching strategies that foster creative behavior through curriculum development and assessment.

Leadership in Gifted Education

Leadership courses train graduate students to develop, implement, and supervise gifted programs at the K-12 level. Students learn about talent identification, student assessment, program evaluation, and service delivery.

Instruction for Gifted Learners

This class teaches candidates to develop differentiated curricula for gifted learners, surveying instructional approaches at the elementary and secondary levels. Lectures may cover teaching strategies and techniques, intervention methods, and different theories of gifted education.

Assessment in Gifted Education

Assessment courses train educators to test and measure learning in gifted students. Coursework may cover methods used to identify gifted learners, the role of IQ testing, ability tests versus achievement measures, and the role of tests in gifted education.

Degree Timelines

Distance learners may be able to choose between a full-time, part-time, or accelerated learning schedule, selecting the option that best fits their career, personal, and academic goals.

Enrollment Status Time to Complete Description

Part-Time

2-3 years

Students who select a part-time option typically complete 3-6 credits each semester. This schedule is well-suited for students who must balance school with other work or family obligations. Most part-time graduate students earn their degrees within three years.

Full-Time

1-2 years

Full-time learners typically take 9-15 credits each semester. Some programs feature a one-year degree completion timeline. Many full-time online programs are designed with working educators in mind, allowing students to complete additional coursework during the summer semester.

Accelerated

1 year

Accelerated programs typically allow candidates to earn their education graduate degree in a year or less. Accelerated programs may include up to 18 credits per semester and/or feature shorter terms where students complete one or two classes at a time during five- or six-week sessions.

Licenses and Certifications

Students enrolled in gifted and talented master's degree programs online prepare for classroom teaching jobs, leadership roles, and many other educational positions. However, some career paths, including most K-12 public school teaching jobs, require a teaching license or teaching endorsement. While graduates with a master's degree are eligible to pursue teaching credentials, the licensure process varies from state to state. In some states, educators must also earn a field-specific certification to teach gifted and talented classes.

    • Teaching License: Individuals who earn a master's in gifted and talented education online from an accredited educator preparation program qualify for a teaching license in any state. While additional requirements vary by state, most candidates must pass an examination, submit to a background check, and follow a regular renewal process.
    • Gifted and Talented Education Teacher Certification: GATE certification adds a supplemental endorsement to a teaching license. In most states, educators earn this endorsement by passing an examination covering teaching methods for gifted and talented students.
    • Professional or Advanced Teaching License: Many states offer a professional or advanced teaching license for educators who surpass initial teaching licensure requirements. Educators who hold a master's degree may qualify for professional licensure, which does not need to be renewed as frequently as an initial license.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Current students, recent graduates, and experienced workers can all benefit from joining a professional organization. Professional organizations unite gifted and talented educators worldwide, providing opportunities to connect and learn from one another. These associations also give members access to valuable resources, including classroom management ideas, lesson plans, and assessment tools. Many professional organizations feature student membership plans that include exclusive scholarship and grant opportunities, access to mentoring programs, and career services to help learners transition into the workforce.

  • National Education Association Founded in 1857, NEA currently boasts over three million members. The organization provides teaching resources like classroom management tips, career guidance, and networking opportunities.
  • Association of American Educators AAE offers teaching materials, professional development tools, and publications for educators. The association also sponsors classroom scholarships and grants.
  • National Association for Gifted Children Dedicated to promoting policies and practices that encourage gifted and talented children, NAGC provides educators with instructional strategies, publications, and access to an exclusive job board.
  • International Gifted Education Teacher-Development Network Connecting educators and promoting best practices in gifted education, IGET-Network offers needs assessment resources, teacher development resources, and e-mentoring services.
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ASCD represents educators and curriculum developers. The association publishes research related to curriculum development and education, hosts summits and other networking events, and offers professional learning resources like webinars.
  • National Society for the Gifted & Talented NSGT is a nonprofit organization that supports gifted and talented children. The society's website features educational tools, a blog, and lists of relevant state organizations.
  • Common Core Every state utilizes federal Common Core standards to set learning guidelines for each grade level. Common Core also addresses gifted learners, providing suggested lesson plans, activities, and instructional resources.
  • GiftedParents.org Despite its name, this site features useful resources for educators and parents alike. Visitors can explore weekly live webinars, question and answer sessions, and news articles.
  • NAGC Resources for Educators This page offers gifted programming standards, educational research, and professional development resources. The site also connects gifted and talented teachers with the NAGC career center.
  • KidSource OnLine An online community with an educational focus, this site offers resources for special needs students, including gifted learners.