Ph.D. or Ed.D. in Gifted and Talented Students

A focus, called "an area of concentration," on giftedness and/or the education of gifted individuals is available in the Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies (DPS).


Certain important principles guide the design of courses and experiences included in a concentration in education of the gifted:

The most effective educators of gifted students possess (a) a thorough understanding of a variety of theories of learning, teaching, and human development; and (b) the ability to evaluate and apply these theories to the teaching-learning process.

An educator's effectiveness is enhanced through development and use of communication skills in a variety of media. Those involved in or planning to become involved in leadership roles or research and evaluation must develop effective writing skills.

Teachers need to be models for their students by demonstrating (a) excitement about and lifelong commitment to learning, (b) respect for new ideas and methods, (c) commitment to individual growth (for themselves and others), (d) understanding of the value of human differences, (e) commitment to and ability to use the strategies and methods they advocate, (f) flexibility, (g) genuine acceptance of and respect for others, and (h) commitment to the development of internal standards accompanied by continuous self-assessment and improvement. Modeling is important for teachers of all types: university professors, elementary and secondary teachers, parents, and many others.

Giftedness is multifaceted and many types of giftedness exist. The concept of giftedness includes abilities frequently labeled talent as well as abilities included in traditional definitions of intelligence.

Information and skills valuable in the education of gifted students can be gained from a variety of academic areas or scientific fields.

"Learning by doing" is important for learners of all ages and developmental stages.

Since a major component of programs for gifted students is development of research skills, teachers of gifted students must conduct research so they can understand the process and teach it to their students.

Graduate students should experience the teaching and counseling methods advocated for use with gifted students.

Although knowledge is important, the focus of graduate study should be on the application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of this information for specific purposes.

Graduate students should be given as many opportunities as possible to revise their products and improve their skills based on feedback from their teachers.

Interaction among students is as important as interaction between professors and students. This interaction should be facilitated and encouraged in classes, special research seminars, and social events.

An important responsibility of an advisor of graduate students is mentoring, which should begin during the student's program and continue beyond graduation.

Descriptions of Degree Concentrations

All degree concentrations consist of (a) a core of courses and/or experiences required by the College of Education, (b) a core of courses and/or experiences required by the Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies (DPS), (c) a core of courses and/or experiences common to those whose focus is on giftedness, (d) a minor area of emphasis (often described as a "supporting area") selected by the student, and (e) elective courses and/or experiences selected (or designed) by the student to meet individual needs and satisfy unique interests.

Requirements Other Than Coursework

Students are required to complete both the qualifying examination and the comprehensive examination described in the educational specialist degree program. The only difference is that a program committee must consist of two additional members from the minor area.

The student is free to choose an area of research for a dissertation. If the area of research is not one in which the advisor has expertise or interest, students may choose a dissertation director different from the advisor, although few do so. In addition, the five-member dissertation committee is chosen based on the content area of research. Faculty members from the program committee may or may not be chosen. This committee must approve the dissertation proposal before the research is begun.

After completing the dissertation, students must defend it orally in a satisfactory manner to the dissertation committee.

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For more information, please contact:

C. June Maker, Ph.D., Coordinator
The University of Arizona
Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies
College of Education
Tucson, Arizona 85721
(520) 621-0932