GLL Advanced Placement Page Block with Video

Gifted LearningLinks allows high ability students to:

  • Access advanced subject matter, including credit-bearing honors and AP® level courses
  • Learn at an accelerated pace anytime and anywhere
  • Receive personalized guidance from expert instructors
  • Engage online with peers from around the world

STEM Courses

The CTD Online Program offers an array of science, technology and math courses for students interested in STEM fields. Students can explore their way through our math sequence starting with Algebra I Honors through Pre-Calculus Honors and moving onto AP® Calculus AB and BC. Our technology courses include Java and C++ Programming in addition to AP® Computer Science A and AP® Computer Science Principles. We also offer a full complement of advanced science courses including AP® Biology, AP® Chemistry, AP® Environmental Science, and AP® Physics I, II, and C.

Connect with the Online Program!

facebook iconTwitter







Application Process and Deadlines

Most Online AP® courses have prerequisites. Please see course descriptions for specific details.

The Online AP® Program at CTD welcomes applications from returning applicants as well as new score and portfolio applicants. Before beginning the online application, determine which type of applicant you are based on the descriptions below.

Pre-qualified Review Applicant
You are a pre-qualified review applicant if you are in grade 9 through 12 and you meet both of the following criteria: 

  • You have successfully completed a CTD course through the Weekend Enrichment Program, Summer Program or Online Program at the Magenta Tier or Indigo Tier, within the previous twenty-four months. 
  • You are now applying for an Online AP® course with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal, Math or Science) you used to qualify for a CTD course you previously completed. 

New Scores Applicant
You are a new scores applicant if you are grade 9 through 12 and you meet any one of the following criteria:

  • You have never attended any CTD program and you have qualifying grade-level test scores (Verbal, Math, or Science) for your desired course that are no more than two years old.
  • You have previously attended a course with the Summer Program or Online Program, but you are now applying for a course with a different qualifying subject area (Verbal, Math or Science) and you have qualifying grade-level test scores. 
  • You have participated in above grade-level testing such as the PSAT™8/9 test taken in grades 3, 4, 5, or 6, the ACT® or SAT® test taken in grades 6, 7 or 8 (NUMATS) within the past two years.

New Portfolio Applicant
You are a portfolio applicant if you are in grade 9 through 12 and the following is applicable to you:

  • You do not have qualifying test scores because you have either:

              1) never taken a nationally-normed standardized achievement test 


             2) taken this type of test but not achieved a qualifying score.

An admission portfolio includes the following documents:

  • Required: one teacher recommendation form indicating that the student is performing 1½ to 2 years above grade level in the subject area of the course to which the student is applying (Home-school students may submit two teacher recommendations from non-family member adults who can speak to their capabilities in lieu of a teacher recommendation. Family members may not submit teacher recommendations for students); 
  • Required: most recent school report card indicating exceptional performance in the subject area of the Online AP® course to which the student is applying; 
  • If available: most recent state testing report (e.g. NWEA/MAP); or any results of a grade-level test such as PSAT™8/9 taken in middle school.

Application Deadlines

  • Students will start their course on January 13 or January 27.  In order to be eligible to be enrolled for a particular start date, the application must be COMPLETE no less than 5 days prior.
  • Regardless of start date, all one-semester courses will end on April 30, 2021.  
  • Regardless of start date, all two-semester courses will end on August 17, 2021.
  • The deadline for the Early Bird Rate is January 3, 2021. Tuition will automatically increase by $25 after this date.


Many Online AP® courses have prerequisites.  Please read the course description carefully.

To qualify for Magenta Tier Online AP® Courses students must be in grade 9 through 12 and must also provide one of the following:

  • Achievement of a score of 95th percentile or higher on a nationally-normed grade-level assessment in the required qualifying subject area (Verbal, Math, or Science) for the desired course.
  • Successful past completion of a CTD course, with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal, Math, or Science) within the past two years.
  • Submission of a portfolio application, consisting of a teacher recommendation and the student’s most recent report card demonstrating that the student is performing exceptionally well in the qualifying subject area.
  • Participation in above grade-level testing such as the PSAT™8/9 test taken in grades 3, 4, 5, or 6, the ACT® or SAT® test taken in grades 6, 7 or 8 (NUMATS) within the last two years.

Requests for Grade Advancement/Acceleration: CTD course content is advanced or grade-level accelerated, as reflected in course descriptions and the standard admission requirements. Though course content is advanced, students can engage with intellectual peers who are also age- or grade-level peers. Therefore, most students should apply for courses aligned to the grade-level in which they are currently enrolled. Still, for some students demonstrating a need for an even higher level of instruction than CTD’s advanced and accelerated courses already provide, further acceleration may be an option. Visit the Requesting and Accelerated Placement web page for more information about the process, timeline, and required materials.

Fees, Withdrawals, and Financial Aid

2020-21 Academic Year Tuition 

  • 18-week, one-credit AP® course - $750
  • 36-week, two-credit AP® course - $1,215

Tuition increases by $25 after January 3


Financial Aid

CTD offers need-based financial aid awarded as requests are received. Families are encouraged to apply early because the amount of aid available is limited. Please see the Financial Aid page for details. 

  • The absolute deadline to complete a financial aid application for the Online Honors programs is January 15th.
  • In order to start your class, any balance due must be cleared. Once a financial aid decision has been made, you must clear any remaining balance before you can begin your class.
  • If your balance is not cleared, your start date will be moved to the next start date available. Students will not be able to be begin their class between published start dates.
  • You will recieve the FACTS application link in your application confirmation email once the 60 dollar tuition deposit is paid and the application is submitted.
  • It is imperative that you complete the financial aid application as soon as possible as it may take FACTS up to ten days to process your information.
  • If you previously completed a FACTS application for the 2019-2020 academic year for CTD, you must still attach the 2020-2021 FACTS application to your FACTS account.  You will be able to link your FACTS account to this new FACTS information.  You may need to update financial information.
  • If you experience difficulties with the FACTS process please call the FACTS helpline at 866-412-4637.

Course Environment

Students will work independently, guided by an instructor providing rigorous coursework, and personalized feedback. 

Students should be active learners who take initiative, have strong communication and organization skills, and enjoy learning through technology.

While courses are designed for flexible pacing, students should plan to spend 5 - 8 hours per week for timely completion.

The ability to manage deadlines, stay focused and persevere will be essential to a successful experience.

Program Orientation

  • Acceptance notifications are sent via e-mail upon receipt and proccessing of a completed application.
  • Prior to the course start date, students receive login information allowing them to gain access to the learning management system (LMS), Schoology, which houses CTD Online Program courses.
  • The CTD Online Program experience starts with a virtual online orientation for all new students (returning students are welcome to repeat the orientation). 
  • Syllabi, assignments, discussion boards, links, additional resources and a recommended schedule for completing the course in nine months are found on the course site, which is available 24/7.
  • Students who wish to accelerate through the course in a shorter time frame can discuss target completion dates with the instructor during the first week of the course. Students enrolled in honors courses have until April 30 to complete their coursework for 1-semester courses and August 17 (Winter cohort) to complete their coursework for 2-semester courses. The Online Program grants written requests for extensions on an individual basis for students having made significant progress towards completion, with the approval of the instructor and Online Program staff, and assesses a $100 fee for each month of extension. The maximum allowable course extension is three consecutive months beyond the original end date.
  • Primary communication with the course instructor and/or classmates occurs within the learning management system. Depending on the nature of the subject matter and student preferences, instructors may use additional tools including, but not limited to, discussion boards, the phone, and instructor-supervised online meetings.
  • Most Online Program courses require textbooks and/or lab kits purchased separately. Text requirements are listed and available for purchase through the CTD online bookstore. Students are encouraged to confirm book information with their instructors before ordering.
  • Textbooks for Online AP® courses are listed and available for purchase through the CTD online bookstore. Students are encouraged to confirm text requirements with their instructors before ordering.
  • Currently, the AP® Course Ledger on the College Board website lists the CTD Online Program as Northwestern University - Center for Talent Development Gifted LearningLinks Online Program. All CTD Online AP® courses are College Board authorized.


Students enrolled in two semester courses will receive a letter grade and narrative evaluation with comments on the student’s academic progress at the end of the first semester and again at the end of the course. For each semester successfully completed with a grade of C- or better, students will receive one high school credit. Students enrolled in one semester courses will receive a letter grade and narrative evaluation at the conclusion of the course and will receive one high school credit for successful completion. Transcripts will be mailed to the home address. Students who wish to have a transcript mailed to their school should choose the “Send Transcript” option on the application.

Unofficial transcripts are available for download in MyCTD. Once logged in to you MyCTD account, click on "Tools" in the menu bar, and then select "Transcript".

As an accredited institution, CTD issues credits to students successfully completing honors and AP® courses. However, acceptance of CTD credits is a local school decision. Students should discuss this option with their academic counselor or school administrator.

For Schools

The CTD Online Program offers special group tuition rates to schools, regional and state education agencies, gifted parent groups, and homeschooling organizations that sign up five or more students.

The Online Program's learning platform allows local teachers, gifted coordinators, or counselors to communicate with their students and monitor their progress and grades in credit-bearing courses, making CTD Online Programs courses easy to integrate with in-school learning. 

Schools and groups may apply for a School Group Code, which allows students to bypass the payment section of an application.

CTD offers discounted group tuition to schools and education organizations. To learn more about how schools can partner with CTD, email for more information.

Qualifying Test Scores

Requisite scores in the subject area of the course applied for on an above-grade-level test through NUMATS or similar program:

ACT® or SAT® test taken in grade 6, 7, 8 or 9, or

  • ACT® : R: 19, M: 18 &/or S: 18
  • SAT®:  R: 440, M 460

Successful completion, within the past two years, of a previous CTD credit or credit intensive course with the same qualifying subject area criteria.

See CTD Eligibility for more details.

Registering for an AP® Exam

All AP® exams are held in May according to a schedule set by the College Board. Center for Talent Development does NOT administer AP® exams. Students are strongly encouraged to speak to their school counselor prior to registering for an AP® course to see if taking the exam at school will be an option. 

The College Board does not require a school to offer an AP® course in a subject to adminster that AP® exam. Many schools allow homeschooled students and students from other districts to register for an exam being offered at the school provided that they make arrangements well in advance. The College Board can also provide you with local AP® Coordinators willing to test outside students.

Most schools require students to register (and pay) for AP® exams in early fall.  For more details about registering for AP® exams, including how to find local AP® Coordinators, please see the College Board’s “Registering for Exams” webpage.

For more information on the AP® exams in general, including test dates, please visit the College Board's AP® student website.  

Technical Requirements

  • Students need access to a stable internet connection and updated web browser.
  • Participation in “live” online sessions may require a computer microphone or headset.
  • While iPads and tablet computers may be sufficient for most coursework, some web tools and/or websites may require the use of a computer or laptop.


What is the difference between the various categories of courses?

Online Family Program courses are for students in grades K - 3. Your child does not need test scores to qualify for these courses, which are designed for parents and children to work on together. These courses begin four (4) times each year.

Online Core Essentials and Online Enrichment courses are for students in grades 3 ­- 8. Online Core Essentials courses are standard academic offerings while Online Enrichment courses are electives. Sessions begin four (4) times each year and last nine (9) weeks. They require approximately 2­-5 hours of activity per week.

Online Honors courses are designed for students in grades 6­ - 12. These are credit bearing high school­ level courses that require approximately 5 - ­8 hours of activity per week. 

The Winter cohort enrollment period runs from January 13 to January 27. To have the maximum amount of time in the course, families should submit completed applications by January 5 to be enrolled for January 13. The fixed end dates for the Winter cohort are April 30 for 1-semester courses and August 17 for 2-semester courses. 

Online AP® courses are one and two semester courses that have been authorized by the College Board. They are designed to prepare students for college­ level work and for the AP® exams in May. These courses are only available for students in grades 9 - 12. These are credit bearing high school level courses that require approximately 5 - 8 hours of activity per week. 

The Winter cohort enrollment period runs from January 13 to January 27. To have the maximum amount of time in the course, families should submit completed applications by January 5 to be enrolled for January 13. The fixed end dates for the Winter cohort are April 30 for 1-semester courses and August 17 for 2-semester courses. 

Online ASO (Accelerated Summer Option) courses are offered over the summer. They condense one and two semester high school level classes into intense nine (9) week sessions. One credit courses typically require 10­ - 15 hours of activity each week for successful on­ time completion, and two credit courses typically require 20­ - 30 hours per week.

Why do students need to qualify for Online Program classes?

Our classes are designed for students working 1­ - 2 grade levels above their chronological age. Not all students are ready for these courses, which are designed for learners who are advanced for their age and learn at a faster pace than most students. Our goal is not to be exclusive, but to ensure students are placed in a course that is appropriately challenging.

How can my child qualify?

Students can qualify in one of three ways:

Fast Track Returning Student – this method is for any student who has been accepted into a similar CTD course within the past two years. If you were previously accepted into an Online Core Essentials or Online Enrichment course and are now applying for an Online Honors, Online AP®, or Online ASO course, you may NOT apply as a “fast track” participant.

New Student/New Scores – If you are applying for an Online Core Essentials or Online Enrichment class, you may apply with scores at or above the 90th percentile (in the subject area of the course to which the student is applying) from any test with a national percentile ranking (NPR). You may apply for Online Honors, Online AP®, or Online ASO courses with PSAT, SAT or ACT scores. On the program page, click on “Qualifying Test Scores” to learn exactly what scores are required.

Admission Portfolio – This method is for students who do not have the appropriate tests or scores. Students must submit two (2) teacher recommendations and a recent report card. Many students qualify with the portfolio method.

What is the procedure for applying?

First, complete the online application form and pay for the course. Second, submit your qualifying materials. Finally, wait to hear from the Admissions Committee. (see attached screenshot for more details).

When do I pay for my child’s course?

In order to upload qualifying materials and be considered by the Admissions Committee, you will need to pay when you apply. If you have not paid, qualifying materials such as teacher recommendations cannot be uploaded into your application. If your child is not accepted into their course, you will receive a full refund.

What is a nationally-normed test?

This is a test that compares students’ scores in the same grade across the entire nation.

What is a prerequisite?

A prerequisite is identified by the instructor as the knowledge or skills necessary to start a course. For instance, Algebra II has a prerequisite of Algebra I.

How do I know when my materials have been received?

Materials will not be marked “received” until an Online Program staff member checks them in. During busy periods, this can take up to five business days. You can check your MyCTD Toolbox account to see if materials have been “received.”

What does it mean when my child’s application is marked “complete”?

It means that you have submitted all of the necessary qualifying materials. The next stop for your child’s application is the Admissions Committee. They will contact you with more information.

When will I hear if my child has been accepted?

The Admissions Committee meets several weeks before course start dates. They review applications on a rolling basis and only consider completed applications (i.e. all qualifying materials have been submitted). They will contact you with their decision or with a request for more information. Login information is sent on enrollment dates that align when an acceptance email is sent to the family. Please refer to your acceptance email for when you should anticipate being enrolled in the course.

When will I receive textbook information?

Your acceptance email will contain a link to our online bookstore, where each course's booklist is housed. Please access the booklist there by clicking "Let's Get Started" on the screen that appears and navigating to your term and course.

Can my child work at his/her own pace?

Yes. Our courses are flexibly paced and independent study. Students may complete their course in less than the allotted time.

What if my child does not finish the work by the end of the session?

Online Core Essentials, Online Enrichment, and Online Family Program courses are closed after their respective end dates. Students in Online Honors, Online AP®, or Online ASO classes may request up to 3 one month extensions from their instructor.

Extensions are granted on an individual basis. To qualify, students need to have made significant progress towards completion and at a minimum, students need to have finished more than half of the course to qualify for an extension. A student must have demonstrated the desire and capacity to complete the course in order for an extension request to be approved. Course extensions must begin on the course end date and are consecutive. Students can’t delay extensions. Course extensions are not available for core essentials or enrichment courses. A $100 fee is assessed for each month of an extension. 

Are there online lectures?

No. Courses are facilitated independent study. That means students login and work according to their own schedule. Instructors, who have designed the course, grade assignments, give feedback, and are available to answer any questions. Students may be directed to other websites that may include lectures or articles

Who teaches Online Program courses?

Our instructors come from various professional backgrounds and are selected because of their mastery of the subject matter, teaching experience, enthusiasm, and ability to work with gifted students. Teachers receive guidance and support from experts in online learning design. 

What is the procedure for requesting financial aid?

Need-based financial aid is available for most CTD programs. Families are encouraged to apply early as the amount of aid available is limited. Please see Financial Aid Opportunities for more information.

What is the Online Program's refund policy?

To learn more about CTD's refund policies, visit our Refunds & Withdrawals Policies page.

How many courses can my child apply for at one time?

Please consider your child’s schedule when applying for multiple classes. Online AP® courses require approximately 5 - 8 hours of work per week. Many students successfully take multiple courses at a time. However, if your child is new to online learning, we recommend starting with one or two courses and then consider increasing involvement over time once your student is comfortable in the online environment.

Copyright 2014 Northwestern University Center for Talent Development