The 30 Best Online Master’s in Gifted & Talented Education Programs

by TBS Staff

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The 21st century is an exciting time for gifted education teachers. With the recognition of multiple forms of intelligence and advancements in gender equality, talented students have more opportunities today than ever before. A master’s in gifted education online prepares you for an instrumental role in the development of exceptional students’ abilities. According to Payscale, gifted teachers bring home more $45,000 each year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% increase in employment for instructional coordinators, including 16,500 new positions.

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Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

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We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

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While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

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Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

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Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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The Best Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education Degree Programs

  1. The University of Alabama

    Tuscaloosa, AL



    The University of Alabama is a renowned public institution of higher education that prides itself on empowering its students through athletic, academic, and professional accomplishments. The oldest public university in the state, Bama accommodates students of all backgrounds, including distance learners. The school’s online offerings include a master of arts in special education with gifted and talented certification. This is a blended program, which combines online and web–assisted courses with flexible weekend classes on campus.

    The degree comprises 30 to 36 credits, with classes in topics like creative problem solving, special populations in gifted education, and diagnosis and assessment of exceptional youth. Students must also complete an internship, which begins with a mandatory skills development and enrichment workshop hosted over the summer. A practicum and comprehensive exam are also part of the degree requirements. With such an intensive curriculum, the Bama program trains students to not only identify the special needs of gifted and talented kids, but also strategize and implement differentiated educational programs that challenge and empower them. Graduates often pursue careers as teachers, administrators, and academic advisors.

    To qualify for this online gifted education program, applicants must hold an Alabama Class B teacher certification or equivalent. The school also requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and 300 on the GRE for admission. Bama’s affordable tuition rate is standard for all distance learners and scholarships are available.

  2. University of Missouri

    Columbia, MO



    Located just two hours west of St. Louis, the University of Missouri is a leader in distance education and offers more than 100 degree programs, including a master of education in special education with an emphasis in gifted education. Mizzou Online’s program provides a curriculum that is skill–based and career–focused. Graduates of the program are also qualified to obtain the Missouri gifted education certification.

    Courses can be completed entirely online and there are three start dates each year. The degree plan consists of 30 credits in classes like curriculum leadership, assessment and evaluation in gifted education, and technology to enhance learning. Students must also complete a practicum experience in which they apply what they’ve learned in a real educational environment. Those with two years or more of teaching experience in state–assisted gifted programs may apply for exemption. All degree candidates must pass a comprehensive take–home exam.

    Applicants must submit university transcripts with a minimum 3.0 GPA, GRE scores, and two letters of recommendation to be considered for admission to the program. Though tuition is priced by residency status, Mizzou still offers one of the most affordable online gifted education programs in the U.S. The school also offers a variety of online services and resources for its students, including admissions help and financial assistance, as well as professional development opportunities and tutoring through The Learning Center.

  3. University of Georgia

    Athens, GA



    Chartered in 1785, the University of Georgia is one of the oldest and most prestigious public institutions of higher learning in the U.S., enrolling over 37,600 students annually in its on–campus and distance education programs. Among the latter options is an online master of education in educational psychology, gifted and creative education, a degree focused on providing students the skills necessary to nurture the specific needs and talents of all children, particularly those in disadvantaged and underserved populations. All courses can be completed remotely and most students earn their degrees in six terms, or two years.

    To receive their M.Ed, students must earn at least 37 credits and pass a written comprehensive exam. The curriculum consists of courses in advanced topics like characteristics of gifted youth and programming and curriculum for the gifted. All students take the same classes the first two terms, which builds cohort relations, thereby easing the transition into graduate school and building a network of long–term professional support. Subsequent coursework is planned with close guidance from academic advisors. Students round out their master’s in gifted education online degree with a practicum, which prepares them for career entry or advancement through real–world application of learned skills. Students may fulfill this requirement at their workplace or at separate location facilitated by the program.

    Application materials include college transcripts with a minimum 2.6 GPA, GRE or MAT scores, and three letters of recommendation. Online learners can apply for a variety of graduate scholarships.

  4. University of South Florida

    Tampa, FL



    From its main campus in Tampa, the University of South Florida provides students of diverse backgrounds with accessible academic opportunities designed for working professionals who want to advance their careers through accreditation and advanced skills development. The school’s online offerings include a master of arts in exceptional student education, an intensive program that builds on the education and special education foundations that students already have learned, providing in–depth examinations of several types of exceptionalities, such as learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and intellectual disabilities. In fact, students may choose to specialize in one of these three areas, or they can opt to pursue a generalist track.

    The degree plan ranges from 32 to 40 credits, depending on the track, and includes required coursework in areas like working with families, advanced psychoeducational assessment, and consultation and collaboration in special education. Students must also complete at least one hour of independent study and a practicum, the latter of which consists of supervised field work with exceptional children, ranging from preschoolers to high school students. It should be noted that though the online master’s in gifted education program at USF is comprehensive, it doesn’t automatically lead to initial teaching certification. Students must take further steps towards fulfilling those specific requirements.

    To apply, potential students must submit undergraduate transcripts and GRE scores. Those with at least nine hours of graduate–level work in special education (completed with a 3.0 GPA or above and endorsed by a faculty member) or those with a master’s degree in another field are exempt from standardized testing.

  5. University of North Carolina at Charlotte

    Charlotte, NC



    Tracing its history back to 1946, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is the fastest growing campus of the UNC system. The school offers 64 master’s degree tracks, many of which are accessible to online students, including the master of education in special education: academically or intellectually gifted. Designed specifically for K–12 educators who hold at least an initial or Standard Professional one (SP1) teaching license, the UNCC program provides graduates with the skills they need to enrich and enhance the education of high–achieving students.

    The degree consists of 33 credits of advanced and writing intensive coursework covering topics like methods of instructing gifted students, theories on creativity, adapting curriculum material, and classroom differentiation. Additionally, UNCC’s online gifted education program heavily emphasizes research. Students not only learn the best practices in the field, but also conduct their own research. With the guidance of a faculty advisor, students formally propose, implement, analyze, and present their work, enabling them to gain valuable experience and build professional relationships outside their immediate academic setting. Graduates are qualified to obtain the state–ordained Standard Professional two (SP2) teaching license in special education.

    Four start dates are offered each year. Application materials include a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE or MAT scores in the 30th percentile or higher. Online students pay tuition based on their residency status.

  6. University of North Texas

    Denton, TX



    Located in Denton, just an hour from Dallas, the University of North Texas has been providing affordable and exceptional educational opportunities for over 127 years. Facilitated by Blackboard, UNT offers 20 online graduate programs, including a master of science in educational psychology with a concentration in gifted and talented. Designed as an entirely online “Executive Summer–to–Summer” degree, this UNT program is highly flexible and students can earn their master’s in as few as 15 months while working. Additionally, students can earn a gifted and talented certificate along with their degree, further improving career advancement opportunities.

    The curriculum totals 33 credits, which includes required coursework in topics like educational statistics, human development across the lifespan, and program planning for the education of gifted and talented students. Additionally, students must complete a capstone experience, in which they synthesize their cumulative skills and knowledge to conduct original research or evaluate an existing special education program with the help of a faculty advisor. The degree plan for this master’s in gifted and talented education program also includes six hours of electives. Courses are structured in rotating three–, five–, and eight–week sessions.

    Applicants should submit undergraduate transcripts, a professional resume, two letters of recommendation, a one to three page personal statement, and GRE scores above the 50th percentile. All distance learners pay the same affordable tuition rate and eligible applicants receive a one–time departmental grant of $1,000.

  7. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    Liberty University is located in Lynchburg, Virginia and hosts a vibrant distance education platform that offers flexible options for degree and certificate seekers. Among the graduate programs available is a master of education in teaching and learning with a concentration in special gifted education. The Liberty program bolsters students’ opportunities for career advancement by equipping them with the skills necessary to effectively use learning strategies that nurture and challenge gifted students. The program also prides itself on being accessible to working professionals, as all coursework can be completed online and half of the curriculum may be satisfied by applicable transfer credits from previous college work or life experience, such as job or military training.

    Students in this online master’s in gifted education program take 36 credits in classes like foundations of exceptionality, educational assessment for special needs, and leadership and supervision in education. Liberty also requires a capstone experience and students may choose either a master’s seminar on current issues in education or a directed practicum. The former leans heavily on individual research and may be more suitable for students pursuing careers as administrators and curriculum advisors, while the latter highlights hands–on classroom instruction.

    Students can enter the program at ten start dates during the year and financial aid and scholarships are available.

  8. University of Southern Mississippi

    Hattiesburg, MS



    Founded in 1910, the University of Southern Mississippi dedicates its institutional mission to transforming students into successful and empathetic leaders through programs that are career–centered and socially aware. Many distance learners flock to USM for its variety of degree options, including an online master of education in special education with an emphasis in gifted education, a specialization structured as a hybrid program that requires students to spend some time on the Hattiesburg campus.

    The degree plan consists of 31 to 36 credits in required coursework, free electives, and choices in research and practicum experiences fulfilled with the guidance of a faculty mentor. Topics include legal issues in educating exceptional learners, school to life transitions, and components of the reading and writing process. As one of the few online gifted education programs that allows students to personalize their curriculum through electives, USM’s program is well–suited for those who know which specific skills they would like to develop in order to build their career. It should be noted that the USM program won’t result in teaching certification. However, students have the opportunity to gain this credential via the Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI), a summer program followed by year–long internship. Some credits students earn from TMI may be transferred towards their M.Ed.

    Application materials include academic transcripts, standardized test scores (GRE, MAT, or Praxis II), a personal statement, a resume, and two recommendation letters. All online students pay the in–state tuition rate.

  9. University of Nebraska at Kearney

    Kearney, NE



    The University of Nebraska at Kearney regularly receives praise for the quality of its distance education offerings. Among the 30 degree programs available is an online master of arts in education in special education: gifted education. Consisting of 36 credits, the UNK program is designed for certified teachers who hold an undergraduate degree in the field and affords them to opportunity to enhance their careers through advanced research and integration of curriculum theories with practical teaching methodology to serve the complex needs of gifted and talented students.

    To earn their degree, students must complete 36 hours of coursework and pass a three–part comprehensive exam, which includes a project, a written portion, and an departmental exit survey. Though there are some core courses all graduate students in the department take, the vast majority of classes will be in the special education: gifted education concentration. Topics include psychology and education of gifted students, curriculum design for specific outcomes, and social and emotional development. Students have the option to pursue a thesis or non–thesis curriculum. However, UNK advises students who want to later pursue a doctoral degree to take on the former option. Those who opt out of the thesis will take an additional seminar in advanced educational psychology.

    UNK boasts some of the lowest tuition rates among online gifted education programs and distance learners are eligible to apply for financial assistance. The program offers three start dates each year. Application materials include college transcripts and GRE scores.

  10. University of Northern Colorado

    Greeley, CO



    What started in 1890 as a training school for teachers in and around Greeley has grown into a full–fledged institution of higher education, doctoral research, and professional development. The University of Northern Colorado now offers a variety of traditional and online degree programs, including a master of arts in special education with gifted and talented education emphasis. Designed with the input of students, teachers, and experts in the Colorado Department of Education, the UNC program highlights communication and leadership skills in addition to in–depth knowledge of curricular planning and how it can be utilized to best serve the needs of gifted and talented youth.

    The degree plan totals 36 credits and includes course topics like creativity in gifted education, nature of the gifted learner, and highest levels of learning for the gifted and talented. Students must also complete a supervised practicum of hands–on teaching and coordinating of students in their local communities. Though most coursework can be completed online, degree candidates are required to attend summer sessions where they work with gifted fifth through tenth graders in the UNC Summer Enrichment Program.

    Application materials for this master’s in gifted education online program include undergraduate transcripts with a minimum 3.0 GPA, GRE scores, a resume, and a statement of personal philosophy and professional goals. As part of the Extended Campus, distance learners, regardless of where they live, enjoy the same low tuition rate. In addition to financial assistance and other forms of conventional academic services, like online tutoring and career planning, students may also participate in the Graduate Student Association, a campus group that facilitates conference and research funding and networking opportunities.

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Choosing a Program

Professionals who earn their master’s in gifted education online equip themselves with the expertise needed to meet the unique academic needs of gifted students. Gifted teachers cultivate enriching learning environments that go beyond standard curriculum requirements of traditional classroom settings. Gifted education teachers receive specialized training that emphasizes teaching students with talent. Graduates of online gifted education programs demonstrate cultural sensitivity and knowledge of learning theories appropriate for the instruction of exceptional students. They possess the ability to select, administer, and score assessments.

Most master’s in gifted education online curricula consist of core and specialized courses. Core courses familiarize students with common instructional practices used in school settings as well as current and historical theoretical perspectives of the field. Students examine the social and political factors that shape education and their role in the establishment of norms that bring about change. Frequent topics of a gifted education program include curriculum development, classroom management, and professional collaboration.

Specialized courses allow educators to choose a area of interest. Possible concentrations in this field include gifted education administration, gifted education in elementary school, and gifted education in secondary school. All degree candidates must complete a teaching practicum near the end of their program.

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Online Master’s in Gifted and Talented Education Careers

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Graduates of an online gifted education program work in instructional and administrative capacities in a variety of academic settings. The following careers are commonly pursued by professionals with a master’s in gifted education. These professionals value student success and demonstrate patience and compassion in the classroom.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Gifted teachers at the primary level may see different groups of children daily or weekly. Their responsibilities include developing engaging lesson plans, communicating with parents, and maintaining a positive classroom culture. While the minimum degree requirement for elementary school teachers is a bachelor's degree, earning a master's in gifted education online expands employment opportunities.
  • Median Annual Salary: $55,490
  • Projected Growth Rate: 7%
Middle School Teachers
Typically working with 6th through 8th graders, middle school teachers have similar duties as elementary school teachers. Gifted education middle school teachers may teach children who excel intellectually across a broad range of areas, or they may specialize in the instruction of students with high aptitudes in a specific subject such as art or music.
  • Median Annual Salary: $56,720
  • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
Instructional Coordinators
Job duties of instructional coordinators include developing schoolwide curriculum plans and training teachers in emerging evidence-based teaching practices. They frequently analyze data to assess school performance and implement strategies for improvement. A master's degree is required for employment as an instructional coordinator.
  • Median Annual Salary: $62,460
  • Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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