Frequently Asked Questions


FAQs are organized by category below.


Eligibility & Admissions

I have not been identified as “gifted” by my school. Is this program appropriate for me?

Official school designation of “gifted” is not required for admission. However, ATDP students should be hardworking, enjoy learning, and be prepared for an intellectually stimulating and demanding summer class.

Can I mail my application materials to ATDP?

Our typical application process is entirely online. Mailed items may take longer to process. If you must mail items to ATDP for any reason:

  • Notify us in advance so we know to expect your mailed item. Send an email to and do not proceed with mailing until we send a reply to confirm.
  • For required application materials, take a screenshot or photo of our email confirmation. Upload this image into the online application instead of the item you plan to mail.
  • Mailed application items may delay your application.
  • Send mailed items to:
    University of California, Berkeley
    Academic Talent Development Program
    Berkeley School of Education
    2121 Berkeley Way, Room 2210
    Berkeley, CA 94720-1670

If admission is based on academic preparedness, why is applying early so important?

Applications are considered continuously in the order in which they are completed. For the most competitive courses, there are always more qualified applicants than the program can accommodate. Qualified applicants who apply early have the best chance of being placed in their preferred courses at their preferred meeting times.

I’m not from the San Francisco Bay Area. May I apply?

Yes! ATDP is open to students from the Bay Area and beyond. Students from many countries—including Taiwan, Italy, Kuwait, and Singapore—have attended. However, please note that (1) ATDP's on-site programs are not residential and we cannot assist with housing arrangements, and (2) financial aid is limited to students from the immediate Bay Area.

May 6th graders apply to the Secondary Division?

Our Elementary Division offers courses for 6th graders. New ATDP applicants who will be completing 6th grade this year are not eligible for the Secondary Division. Returning ED students with very strong academic records who will be completing 6th grade are eligible to apply for The Writing Process, Elements of Web Design, Foundations of Algebra and Introduction to Public Speaking.

Can ATDP accommodate my special education needs?

ATDP provides enrichment and accelerated courses for students, and all ATDP students need to be able to keep up with the pace of learning. Students with special education needs who wish to be considered for accommodations must provide a copy of the psycho-educational report on which their diagnosis is based. This report will be reviewed by the Faculty Director, who will determine which—if any—accommodations will be provided at ATDP. It is important to note that ATDP may not offer the same accommodations that are being offered at an individual’s home school.

Can my child enroll in an Explorations program without taking a course?

Yes! Since 2021, we accept applications for Explorations as a standalone offering. See our programs page for a quick comparison of the application process.


Selecting a Course

I have only one course choice. Do I still have to list alternate classes on my application?

Each course you request represents a commitment on your part. If you would rather not come to the program than attend a course other than your first choice, you should request your first choice only.

Will I improve my chances of being placed in my first choice class if I don’t list alternates?

No. We always start by attempting to place each student in his or her primary choice and only look at the alternates if the class is filled or if a student’s application is not competitive for his or her primary choice.

Is the time listed for homework accurate, or is that just how long it takes other students who aren’t as smart as I am?

The homework hours listed represent the average time to complete homework (not including studying) reported by the previous year’s classes. It is safe to expect that the amount of homework you do will be somewhere within the range given.

I didn’t learn as much as I would have liked in my math class this year. Can I repeat a math class in the Secondary Division that I have already taken at my regular school?

We typically do not allow Secondary Division students to repeat math classes. Instead, we suggest that you consider taking a 5-unit math elective for which you have completed the prerequisites or a course in another field of study.

For 2024, we will consider requests from students who petition for an exception to this policy. Please include an explanation of your circumstances in your ATDP application as part of your Letter of Interest.

See Mathematics Application & Placement.

Can I take two courses?

Generally, only strong, returning Secondary Division applicants will be admitted to two courses. See Applying for Two Courses. New Secondary Division applicants are much less likely to successfully petition to take two courses. Well-prepared Elementary Division students completing grade 4-6 may be extended the opportunity to apply for a second course if space allows; this is determined on an individual basis later in the spring after students have been offered one class. Explorations applicants may apply to as many activities as their schedule reasonably allows.


Financial Aid

How are financial aid awards determined?

Financial aid awards are based on total family resources, determined in part by tax returns and schedules. We make every effort to help families with limited resources; however, we are often unable to offer full financial aid, and families who receive full financial aid for tuition will still need to pay the course's facilities fee. See Financial Aid.

I received a larger financial aid award in the past. Why is my aid award smaller this year?

ATDP's financial aid awards are funded through fees paid by attending families and through donations. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our overall budget from 2020 onward, and this in turn affects the amount we can afford to give for financial aid. As always, even families receiving the maximum aid award will be responsible for some amount of tuition. Until our financial situation stabilizes, this amount may vary from year to year.

A drastic change in my financial situation is not reflected on my tax return. What should I do?

Attach a letter explaining your situation, as well as any supporting documents (e.g., unemployment forms) to the tax forms you send in.

The financial aid deadline has passed. Can I still apply for financial aid?

Even though our financial aid deadlines have passed, families may request an exception for late consideration. Please note that after the deadlines, our financial aid has already been awarded so our ability to provide aid for new requests is very limited.

To request an exception for financial aid, compose a petition letter addressing the missed deadline and providing a summary of your current financial situation. Please be sure to include any information you would like the program director to be aware of when reviewing your exception request. Include this letter with a complete copy of your most recent tax documents. We strongly recommend that you redact (black out) any sensitive information, such as social security numbers. Please send these documents via fax to 510-642-0510.


Course Logistics

What is the average class size?

Secondary Division classes generally have a macimum of between 18 and 24 students. Elementary Division classes generally have up to 24 students, with a lead instructor and often an instructional associate and/or TA. Explorations can vary widely depending on the activity, from small groups to large seminars.

Who teaches ATDP classes?

Our faculty include exceptionally talented public and private school instructors, as well as university researchers and industry professionals.

How is ATDP funded?

ATDP is self-supporting, funded entirely by paying families. We receive no funding from campus or from external grants. We make a strong effort to keep ATDP affordable to families by keeping tuition fees low and offering financial aid. Even though program costs continued to increase, we did not increase tuition this year.

What if it becomes unsafe to hold in-person classes due to COVID or something else?

We are reserving the option to move on-site course offerings to a remote online format at any time and only if deemed necessary by the Program Director. The deadlines and schedules for tuition payments and refund requests will remain unchanged regardless of course format.


Online Learning

Why did you choose Zoom as your online platform?

Zoom is UC Berkeley’s officially supported remote instruction platform. We’ve paid very close attention to reports of security issues with Zoom at other schools (such as “Zoom-bombing”), and we promote best security practices. Zoom meetings at UC Berkeley require participants to join with any registered Zoom account. You can sign up for free here. (Parents of younger students should create their own account to share with their child under their supervision.)

What if I don't have the minimum technology required for live online class meetings?

If you anticipate having a lack of technology or technical problems, be sure to discuss it in the "Concerns" section of your online Enrollment Form. We will work with families on a case-by-case basis to see if any accommodations can be made. Note that there are some courses where students will absolutely need to actively participate in live, face-to-face meetings over Zoom.

Do I need to be at my computer for the full 3.5 hours of class each day it meets?

Your time in front of a screen will vary depending on your instructor’s lesson plans, and each class meeting will involve a mix of live, interactive activities and independent, self-directed work. While students do need to be available for the 3.5 hour window, they will likely not spend the entire time in a Zoom meeting for most classes. We are strongly recommending that teachers limit continuous blocks of screen time, working in a variety of learning activities and breaks. Instructors may also offer more flexible face-to-face meetings such as office hours or small group meetings outside of the scheduled class time.

How will in-person class activities translate online?

This is one of the largest areas of focus that ATDP staff and faculty have worked together to address. Our online course offerings are of comparable value to our usual in-person offerings, even while many adaptations may be needed.

Will the online courses be as rigorous?

While many courses have been revised for the online format—some quite heavily—our expectations remain as high as always. Instructors will offer live interaction and feedback in their areas of expertise, and students are expected to attend every class meeting (see the attendance policy). Remember that every class requires a significant amount of homework and self-study outside of class meetings. As always, ATDP's staff, instructors, and academic counselors are ready to collaborate with families to determine the best course of action if a student is struggling.

Why aren't your online fees lower? An online course is cheaper to run than an in-person course, isn't it?

That’s actually a common misconception. When you account for the large amount of curriculum planning and adaptation, online infrastructure, and technical training and testing, running an online course matches the cost of running it in-person. ATDP staff and faculty work just as many hours to ensure we maintain the value of our courses and continue to offer instruction of the highest quality.


Grading & Documentation

Will I receive a grade?

For Secondary Division courses, students can achieve grades in the A or B range with a recommendation of high school credit. Students below a B will be assigned a grade of Pass or No Pass, and will not receive a recommendation of credit.

Elementary Division students will receive a narrative report. No grade will be provided.

See Documenting Coursework.

Will I receive high school credit? (SD only)

It is up to your high school or school district to agree to grant credit for an ATDP course. Policies vary, so you should speak with your high school counselor or principal if you want your course to count towards high school graduation requirements.

Are your online courses A-G approved? (SD only)

Yes! The University of California has indicated that previously approved courses adapted for online delivery due will remain approved.


Scheduling & Attendance

I know I will be absent for several days. Can I still take an ATDP class?

There are no excused absences at ATDP. Missing too much class time may result in dismissal from the program. Students are expected to attend every class session, and any exceptions must be reviewed by ATDP prior to the refund deadline. Even if you miss only one class, it may not be possible for you to compensate for the work and in-class time missed. In the Secondary Division, absences may make it impossible for ATDP to recommend credit for the completion of the course. See Attendance Policy.

If a course is offered both on-site and online, can I switch between the two?

No. Applicants must choose to apply to an on-site course or an online course. Students enrolled in an on-site course are expected to attend every class meeting in person.

Can I take an online class asynchronously?

No. ATDP maintains a strict attendance policy, and this applies to all of our online courses’ live class meetings. If you anticipate not being able to attend the online meetings, you will not be able to attend the program.


Course Placement & Wait Pools

I’m in a wait pool. When will I know if a spot opens up?

ATDP staff cannot predict exactly when families will confirm or decline their seat in class. We will send an email notice to the address(es) on file as soon as we are able to offer you a spot. We will continue to consider applicants in the wait pool through the end of May.

What is my place in line in the wait pool?

Unlike a waiting list, ATDP’s wait pools do not necessarily put applicants in order. When a spot opens in a course that was previously full, we consider all applicants in the wait pool for that spot. Factors include the relative strength of the application, fit for the class, and—all else being equal—the date that the application was completed.

Since online courses aren’t held in a physical classroom, can’t you just add more spots?

No. We are committed to keeping reasonable teacher-student ratios, as this helps to ensure instruction of ATDP’s high quality standards.

Sometimes we are able to add classes in new subjects or new sections highly impacted subject areas, pending instructor availability. Keep an eye on our News page for catalog updates.

I petitioned for a second Secondary Division class. Why didn’t I receive two course placement offers? (SD only)

We consider petitions for an exception to take a second course after other applicants are considered for placement. This means that even strong petitions may not be accommodated if the courses in question are full.

To request a second class after you have accepted placement into one, please read the requirements for petitioning for a second class before following instructions for Requesting a Change in Course Placement. Please note our estimates of each course's weekly time commitment (listed in our online catalog). Your time commitment and proposed schedule are important factors to discuss in your petition.


If you have questions specific to your application or enrollment, please contact our office directly.