Sixth Year Certificate, Three Summers Campus and On-line Programs

About the Program
Program Staff and Faculty
EPSY Core Courses
Plan of Study
Comprehensive Exams
Applying to the Program

About the Program

The graduate program in gifted and talented education has existed for over thirty years. The program has grown continuously since its inception in 1968. Our Three Summers Sixth Year Program is designed to prepare teachers and leadership personnel in various aspects of gifted education and talent development. The program is based upon the belief that the development of talent in areas, as well as concern for the moral and ethical development of persons, is essential in all children. This program is intended for persons who are interested in making creative contributions to the field as well as learning about the subject matter and teaching procedures that constitute gifted education and enrichment teaching and learning. The Sixth Year Program frequently leads to roles as administrators or curricular specialists in talent development or enrichment programs. These roles generally take place in public schools, or state and regional education agencies.

Our program leads to a Sixth Year Diploma in Professional Education. The program is offered during three consecutive summers on the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut. It includes participation in Confratute, a conference/institute that takes place each summer on campus during the time Three Summers students are pursuing their regular graduate courses. In addition to the summer courses, Three Summers Sixth Year students are also enrolled in separate electives throughout the duration of their degree program. Students enrolled in Three Summers are able to complete the same courses and comprehensive examinations as those who are enrolled in our academic year graduate program.

The courses deal with many aspects of gifted education, and students are encouraged to pursue topics of individual interests such as course projects or related readings. This program was designed to meet the needs of educators who wish to specialize in gifted education but have professional or family obligations that make regular year study impossible.

  • A choice of six different graduate courses over three summers.
  • Attendance at one summer conference on the Storrs campus.
  • NCATE accreditation.
  • Two to three weeks on UConn campus for each of three summers.
  • Interactive, web-based, on-line or on-site courses during fall and spring semesters.
  • Cohort program, high-energy, dedicated educators from national and international locations.
  • Professional development opportunities linked to school-based issues and concerns.
  • Strategy-based courses that apply high-end learning techniques to school improvement initiatives.
  • Continuous faculty-student communication, advisement, and mentoring via on-site conferences and e-mail correspondence.
  • Separate on-campus summer housing supports collegiality and professional growth in a family atmosphere.
"The highest caliber professors, exceptional classmates, a beautiful university campus, and the luxury of being able to focus all my time on gifted education made Three Summers a treasured experience."

"I am so thankful to have been part of this program. It was rigorous-something that was frequently lacking in my undergraduate experience. I learned so many valuable things that I could immediately implement in my classroom."

"I have learned more in my first summer than I could have ever imagined."
Length of Summer Sessions
Beginning the last week of June and continuing through the middle of July, Three Summers Sixth Year students are required to be in-residence at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus for two to four weeks each summer. The exact number of weeks will vary each summer in accordance with a student's plan of study. Homework and reading assignments are extensive during the summer sessions (prereading is required for some courses). Students should be prepared to devote total attention to coursework and assignments. Unless an instructor suggests otherwise, all assignments are due in August.

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Program Staff and Faculty

Judith Mathews, Program Coordinator—Contact
Mary Sullivan, Summer Coordinator—Contact
Siamak Vahidi, Technology Coordinator—Contact

Dr. Joseph Renzulli, Faculty—Contact
Dr. Sally Reis, Faculty—Contact
Dr. Susan Baum, Summer Faculty—Contact
Dr. Jann Leppien, Summer Faculty—Contact
Dr. Del Siegle, Program Director, Faculty—Contact

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Course Descriptions

EPSY 5195/
EPSY 5198:
Confratute: Summer Institute for Enrichment Education
This workshop features presentations by leaders in the field of education for the gifted and the talented together with numerous mini-courses, sessions on teaching strategies and materials, etc.
EPSY 5601: Principles and Methods of Educational Research
This is an introductory course designed to help graduate students understand and evaluate the educational research literature.
EPSY 5710: Introduction to Gifted Education and Talent Development
Problems encountered in developing giftedness and talents in students: the nature of exceptional abilities, the history of special provisions, major scientific studies dealing with superior abilities, and contemporary educational systems and models.
EPSY 5750: Creativity
The identification of creative thinking and problem solving and the development and implications of creativity training materials and teaching strategies.
EPSY 5720: Developing Schoolwide Enrichment Programs
An overview of the theory and research behind and components within the Schoolwide Enrichment Model. Practical techniques for implementing the model in classrooms and school districts.
Instructional and managerial techniques that can be used in the grade level classroom to meet the individual learning needs and talents of all students. Strategies for improving the effectiveness of large group, individual and small group instructional practices. Current and promising practices, as well as relevant research.
EPSY 5092: Practicum
The implementation and application of theory in the student's area of specialization. Open to Master's and Sixth-Year students.
EPSY 5194: Staff Development and Program Evaluation
Analysis of the issues and research in the field of education. Open to Master's and Sixth-Year students.
EPSY 6770: Curricular Options for High Ability Learners
Curriculum theory and techniques with special attention to the development of instructional materials.

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Plan of Study

Each student's plan of study is developed individually in accordance with interests, experiences, and professional goals. The plan of study focuses on the following objectives:

  • Knowledge about past and present practices in gifted and talented education, talent development, and enrichment teaching and learning
  • Involvement in research, field work, or an internship setting to develop innovative curriculum, acquire new instructional skills, and produce solutions to implementation problems
  • Proficiency in research and reference skills to efficiently investigate topics of choice
  • Development or enhancement of professional development strategies
  • Completion of creative products representing a contribution to the literature in the field (curriculum materials, handbooks, research studies, media presentations)
  • Demonstration of leadership qualities and strategies for change through legislation, professional organizations, policy actions and/or research
A plan of study must be completed during the first semester of study. Please obtain a copy of the Sixth Year plan of study from your advisor.

Background preparation and 30-39 credits (including core courses)

  • SuperComp Examination - computer-based exam
  • Nirvana Simulation - open book computer-based exam
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Comprehensive Exams

SuperComp is a computer-based exam taken here on the Storrs campus during the student's last semester. The exam focuses on material covered in the following core courses.

EPSY 5710 Introduction to Gifted Education and Talent Development
EPSY 5720 Developing Schoolwide Enrichment Programs
EPSY 5750 Creativity
EPSY 6770 Curricular Options for High Ability Learners
EPSY 5601 Principles and Methods in Educational Research
EPSY 5194 Seminar in Gifted and Talented

The computer-based timed exam is taken on line through WebCT. Students must contact Judith Mathews ( or Del Siegle ( prior to taking SuperComp.

Supercomp Study Guide

Instructions for NIRVANA

NIRVANA was developed in response to many statements made by former graduate students concerning their preparation for teaching and coordinating enrichment and talent development activities. Many students indicated that they had not considered how they would handle various decisions, planning strategies, and programming options when they left our graduate program and started their new jobs.

NIRVANA is a simulation involving the many types of decisions that might have to be made if you start a new coordinating or teaching position. It is not intended to be an exercise; instead, it is based on the practical experiences of many of our graduate students.

NIRVANA occurs within the WebCT environment. You have 90 days to complete Nirvana. You will answer the memos in the order they are presented. There are nine or ten memos (depending on the version you select) in this simulation. If you skip a memo you may NOT return to it and you forfeit the right to answer it. Once you read a memo, you may leave WebCT and research your answer. You could compose your answer in a word processing program and return to WebCT to copy and paste it into the response box. You will click on SAVE ANSWER when you are finished with your response to a memo. As soon as you SAVE ANSWER, a new memo will appear. You CANNOT skip memos and return to them later. You can exit WebCT and Nirvana and return to it throughout the 90-day exam period. When you re-enter Nirvana, the system returns you to the last memo to which you did not SAVE ANSWER. If you have any technical questions, please contact Del Siegle at 860-486-0616 or email .

Deadlines for NIRVANA
The University of Connecticut conferral dates are May, August, and December (dates vary from year to year).

Before students may request NIRVANA, they must have completed their second summer. Students have 90 days to complete NIRVANA. All coursework and final exams (including SuperComp and NIRVANA) must be completed prior to your conferral date. For example, if you request NIRVANA in July and you wish to confer in August, you must complete NIRVANA prior to your conferral date (August 1). You will not have 90 days to complete NIRVANA in this case. If you request NIRVANA in July and you wish to confer in December, we must receive your completed NIRVANA in October (90 days from the day you log into NIRVANA).

If you are ready to complete the NIRVANA Comprehensive Exam click here.

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Applying to the Program

For further information please visit the Graduate Application Procedures page.

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