GLL Core Essentials 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

Online Core Essentials and Math Acceleration:

Many gifted and high ability students seek and benefit from opportunities for accelerated learning in math. The CTD Online Program offers courses that can help a student successfully make the jump into Algebra through its Pre-Algebra I, Pre-Algebra II, and Pre-Algebra Condensed courses.

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9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Central)
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Central)
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Central)


Application Process

The Online Core Essentials 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 3 through 8 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 Emerald Tier, or a tier with a higher score requirement, within the previous twenty-four months. 
  • You are now applying for an Online Core Essentials course with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) of a CTD course you previously completed.

New Scores Applicant
You are a new scores applicant if you are grade 3 through 8 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 or Math) for your desired course that are no more than two years old.
  • You have previously attended a course with the Weekend Enrichment Program, Summer Program, or CTD Online Program, but you are now applying for a course with a different qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) 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);

New Portfolio Applicant
You are a portfolio applicant if you are in grade 3 through 8 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 Core Essentials 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.


To qualify for Emerald tier Online Core Essentials Courses, students must be in grade 3 through 8 and must also provide one of the following:

  • Achievement of a score of 90th percentile or higher on a nationally normed grade-level assessment in the required qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) for the desired course; OR
  • Successful past completion of a CTD course, with the same qualifying subject area within the past two years; OR
  • 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; OR
  • 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)

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


Online Core Essentials Nine-week Course

  • 2020 - 21 Academic Year $595  
  • Tuition increases by $25 after the Early Bird Rate Deadline
Session Early Bird Rate Deadline
Winter January 3
Spring March 22
Summer June 5



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 deadline to complete a financial aid application for the fall Online Core Essentials program is September 9th.
  • You will receive 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 be independently engaged in academically stimulating and engaging activities designed to develop higher-order thinking skills. A student should have a keen interest in the subject and be eager to work through challenges, both academic and technical. Our dedicated instructors will initiate and guide the dialogue, but students should possess effective communication skills including proficient reading and writing skills and feel comfortable asking questions.

While students will have flexibility in terms of when they log on, pacing guides help students stay on track each week. Students should expect to spend 2 - 5 hours per week engaged in course activities. The student’s ability to manage time and adjust their work levels as needed is key to success.

Some Online Core Essentials students participate in their courses at home, while others learn online in school in a computer lab, media center, gifted resource room, or study hall and take online courses as alternatives to traditional study a regular classroom setting.

Two real-time class sessions take place during the course. Instructors make every effort to schedule real-time class sessions around busy schedules. When attendance is not possible, students can access recordings of real-time class sessions anytime after they occur.

Schoology, CTD's course environment, is a secure, user-friendly platform designed specifically for K - 12 online learners.

Program Orientation

  • Acceptance notifications are sent via e-mail upon receipt of a completed application.
  • 24-48 hours before prior to the course start date, students receive login information allowing them to gain access to the learning management system (LMS), Schoology, which houses online courses.
  • Students are enrolled in a Welcome course, which answers many frequently asked questions and allows students to navigate the LMS, providing a sample assignment, a discussion board and a quiz to try. 
  • Course access begins on the official start date.
  • The CTD Online Program experience starts with a live online orientation for all new students, normally held the day before courses begin or on the actual course date (returning students are welcome to repeat the orientation).  These are recorded and posted for those students who cannot join.
  • Syllabi, assignments, timelines, discussion boards, links and more are found on the course site, which is available 24/7.
  • 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 class meetings.


Students will be emailed a narrative evaluation that includes a letter grade, comments on the student's academic performance and online learning skills, including communication and time management, as well as future course recommendations.

Evaluations can also be accessed via the family's MyCTD Toolbox account.

For Schools

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

Middle school educators are also invited to explore the Online Honors program for additional standards-aligned course options for gifted middle and high school students. Online Honors courses can provide middle school students who would benefit from acceleration in one or more individual subject areas with access to accredited high school courses in their areas of strength without moving between school buildings.

Technical Requirements

  • Students need access to a stable internet connection and updated web browser.
  • Participation in “live” online sessions may require a computer web camera, 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.



Online Program FAQs

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 - 10. 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.

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:

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 Honors Electives, 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). We also accept ASSET test scores. You may apply for Online Honors, Online Honors Electives,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 one teacher recommendation 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.

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 2 has a prerequisite of Algebra 1.

How do I know when my materials have been received?

Materials will not be marked “received” until a CTD 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 24-48 hours before the start of class.

When will I receive textbook information?

Your acceptance email will contain a link to our online bookstore. You can purchase the book from MBS or any other bookstore. Not all courses require a textbook.

Can my child work at their 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, and Online Enrichment  courses end after 9 weeks.

Are there online lectures?

No. Courses are facilitated independent study. That means students log in 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 our refund policy, please visit our Refund & Withdrawal 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 Core Essentials courses require approximately 2 - 5 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