The Van Tharp Institute Core Super Trader Program
The ultimate program for traders who are committed to being the best
The mission of the Super Trader program is to not only transform your trading but also your life. To accomplish that mission, you will commit to investing a substantial amount of your time, money, and effort over the next few years.
Regardless of your previous trading experience, you will work together with Dr. Tharp to define specific objectives for you to meet during the program and together you will also create a customized curriculum to help you reach those objectives.
To qualify for the Super Trader program, you need to:
- Attend a Peak Performance 101 Workshop or a Oneness Awakening Workshop
- Complete an application and a waiver form.
Dr. Tharp determines your entry into the program based on his assessment from the workshop you attended and the application information.
Dr. Tharp has taken the core elements for successful trading and developed five tracks for the Super Trader Program, addressed in each of the segments of the Super Trader Program. The program is divided into three levels (I, II, and III). To graduate the program, you must complete all five tracks to Dr. Tharp’s satisfaction. Super Trader I (Track 1 and 2), Super Trader II (Track 3) and Super Trader III (Track 4 and 5)
Requires students to have a thorough understanding of the Tharp Think principles of trading. This includes the information contained in Super Trader and Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom books. Students must also learn the Tharp Concepts and know all of the terms in our glossary—both of which can be found on our Free Resources page.
In addition to the basic tenets, students will become proficient in the basics of position sizing strategies by playing the Position Sizing Game, completing the Position Sizing e-Learning Course, and passing the self-test in the Definitive Guide to Position Sizing Strategies. One of the first lessons of the program involves instilling these beliefs into your neurology so they become second nature to you. However, before students accomplish this, they must thoroughly understand the concepts in order to make sure that they fit them.
Focuses on a student’s awareness or level of consciousness. In order to apply for the Super Trader program, a student must have already attended Peak Performance 101 Workshop (or Oneness Awakening Course), and students can immediately begin the Peak Performance Home Study Course, if they have not done so already. Dr. Tharp has structured a set of twenty-two Super Trader lessons to take you beyond the Peak Performance Home Study Course and help students explore themselves more thoroughly.
During this step of the program, students will attend other workshops in the Peak Performance series: Peak 202, Peak 203 – The Happiness Workshop, Peak 204 – Modeling Great Trading Through Mental Strategies, Infinite Wealth and the Oneness Awakening Workshop. The next step is to complete Libby Adams’ 28-day course.
When students have completed the twenty-two psychological lessons to Dr. Tharp’s approval, and can document five major issues that have changed for them through the program, then they have taken a major step toward Self Awareness. Does this mean that they will only have five transformations in their life? No, of course not! But, once students have documented five, students should be able to recognize non-useful beliefs as they come up and handle them with the skills they have learned in the first part of their journey. Certainly, other things are expected to come up as students cross over into the technical learning in Super Trader II.
Students work on creating their dream life and integrating it with a business handbook created for their trading business. The Blueprint for Trading Success Workshop provides a basic template for students to follow. We used to require a traditional business plan from students, but we were delighted when some Super Trader students started presenting their business plans in very personal and creative ways. We could see how much they enjoyed reading and completing their plans, because they were rich with their dreams and plans for the future. This new business handbook format is now a requirement – students should complete this within the parameters requested, but in a way that is meaningful to them.
This track allows you get a full understanding of the key factors in system design. The How to Develop a Winning Trading System that Fits You Home Study Course and the corresponding in-person workshop, as well as our more advanced strategy workshops, help you create at least three systems that fit your beliefs, meet your criteria for trading them, fit different market types, and are non-correlated. Before you can begin to trade these systems with full position sizes, you need to know or estimate the SQN® score of each system in each market type before Dr. Tharp approves your trading each system.
Teaches students how to manage your trading mistakes. Once students start tracking their mistakes and determine the R-multiple value of each one they make, they quickly learn how not to repeat those mistakes so they can meet their one-year trading objectives. Once a student has demonstrated proficiency at trading at a high efficiency level (at least 95% in three systems) for a sustained period (more than 100 trades), they are able graduate from the program.
To be considered a Super Trader graduate, students must complete all five steps. In the past, this process may have taken up to six years to complete, depending on a trader’s background, commitment level, and how much time each person allocated to their Super Trader studies. We have made some changes to the program that will allow students to work at what we believe to be a much more rapid pace, with some additional guidance at the onset of the program that should remove some additional hurdles and provide students with increasingly difficult lessons as they progress through the program. It is our hope that most students will now be able to complete the bulk of their work within three years, with additional time available to students that wish to take longer. Students have quite a bit of freedom in this self-paced program – how quickly students move through the lessons depends upon the amount of commitment you are willing to give to your trading education. We will still allow for traders to take up to six years to complete the program, with the understanding that additional tuition will be due after the first three years of the program.
FAQs with Dr. Tharp
The answer really gets to the heart of what the Van Tharp Institute is all about. Our mission is “transformation through a trading metaphor.” And if you believe that you create your entire experience, or at least the meaning you give to that experience, then you must personally transform to become a Super Trader at some level.
Before I answer the question, I want to talk about the roles with which I like to identify so you can have a better understanding of what this is all about. Please refer to this article to learn more.
Super Trader I Cost and Payment Structure - (Effective After August 1, 2019):
1st payment $43,725
2nd payment $35,775
Yearly rate is $26,500
Super Trader I Payment (until August 1, 2019)
The first payment of $41,250 is due prior to starting the program. The second payment of $33,750 will be due 6 months after starting the program. A 1% service fee will be charged on credit card payments. US residents may pay by check. Anyone can pay by wire transfer, our preferred payment choice. Based on a three-year program the average amount is $25,000 per year.
(For July Specials on pricing and payment options see the last page of this document)
These tuition payments cover a continuous three-year period in which to complete the program. The exact tuition due will vary based on: credits you are eligible to receive, previous purchases and workshops attended. You will receive 100% credit for purchases and workshops attended within three calendar months of your proposed start date (which is typically assigned to the first of the month). Purchases outside of this time frame will be credited at 50%, up to 10 years prior to your proposed start date.
Super Trader I Extensions
On very rare occasions, some students have not put forth the effort it takes to achieve real results and see quantifiable progress on their lessons. In the unlikely event that a student remains in Super Trader I throughout the three-year tuition period, options will depend on what they have accomplished to date.
If a student has finished five or fewer lessons, they will not be offered an extension and will be unable to move on to Super Trader II.
If a student has finished five lessons or more to Van’s satisfaction and they hold a desire to continue in the program, Van may approve an extension on a year-by-year basis, for up to three years. Tuition will be assessed at the yearly rate at the time of entry. After making that payment, you will be “charged” $2,000 per month until you finish Super Trader I. If you finish in less than ten months, then any money “leftover” from your extension payment will be credited toward your Super Trader II cost.
Super Trader II Extensions
There will be no tuition due upon entering Super Trader II, provided you have at least 12 months remaining on the initial 3-year tuition period. If you extend your program to complete any portion, the tuition will be the yearly rate in effect at your initial acceptance (The full tuition amount divided by three so $75,000 ÷ 3 = $25,000.)
Super Trader III Program Cost
If you finish both Super Trader I and Super Trader II within two years of your official start date, then there will be no tuition due for Super Trader III. If you have less than 12 months remaining for your three-year period, however, then you will be assessed tuition for an additional year at the annual rate of your initial acceptance.
At the completion of Super Trader III, you will not be required to pay additional tuition if you have met all previous requirements, and each of the three systems have been approved by Dr. Tharp. Students will likely have additional work they need to complete for graduation which can continue after the initial three-year period. For example, one of your three systems may take long-term trades and it will take months to produce the minimum number of trade results. You will graduate in the future but no tuition is due while you are making your long term trades.
Once your tuition time frame has ended, you will be unable to attend workshops or other VTI programs without charge as you had while actively studying within the program. In certain instances, special arrangements can be made at the discretion of Dr. Tharp.
Note – The number of open slots in the program varies. If you believe that joining the Super Trader program is the right action for you to take your trading to the next level and would like to secure a place on a waiting list, apply to the program! If approved, a $10,000 deposit will be requested to hold your starting date slot. While on the waiting list, you are encouraged to get a head start and work through Super Trader Lesson 1.
VTI guarantees all of our products and workshops; however, we provide no refunds and no guarantees for the Super Trader Program. Why? We have two reasons. First, you should only apply for the Super Trader Program once you are certain of the quality of our services. Most commonly, traders enroll in the program only after they have completed a home study course and attended one or more workshops. They have experienced the quality of our programs first-hand and have no doubts about the value we deliver in our training. Second, Dr. Tharp only wants to coach people who are completely committed to becoming great traders. It can be difficult to judge someone’s true level of commitment before admittance to the program. If you feel like you need to have a refund policy, the Super Trader program isn’t for you just yet—or maybe it’s not for you at all.
That being said, we know that life happens, and we try to take that into account during your participation in any of our longer-term programs. If you need to take time off from working on your trading, we make allowances for that called sabbaticals. Sabbaticals must be submitted in writing at least two weeks prior to your requested start date. Dr. Tharp will approve or disapprove all sabbaticals applications submitted.
We are always available to help you in your journey to trading success—when you do your part. When you enroll in the Super Trader Program, you commit to a significant investment of your time and money. It is then up to you how you delegate your time. If you spend your time doing other things instead of working on yourself or your systems, you are responsible for that choice and its consequences. Activities outside the focus area of commitment to the Super Trader Program are not considered an acceptable reason for taking a sabbatical.
Acceptable Reasons for Sabbatical
- You want to stop the program, but you have not made all of your payments. The new program offers two periods when you could stop: 1) prior to the second payment for Super Trader I and 2) prior to committing to Super Trader II.
- Serious health problem for you or an immediate family member.
- Death in your immediate family (spouse or child).
- A natural disaster.
- Special circumstances with Dr. Tharp’s approval.
- At Dr. Tharp’s recommendation.
Unacceptable Reasons for Sabbaticals
- You want to take a vacation.
- You have relatives visiting.
- You want to take time off to do other programs.
- You decide you are not committed to trading or the program. We do not allow students to take a sabbatical for this reason, but you do have two points in the program when you can de-commit from it.
- You have one of the legitimate reasons listed above but you didn’t tell Dr. Tharp or his staff about it until the event already happened.
Trading great systems at 95% efficiency is one of the requirements for graduation, but it’s not the objective of the program. The objective of the program is massive personal transformation and hopefully, a big shift in consciousness. We’d like for each Super Trader eventually to score consistently 80+ on the happiness test and students who have completed Super Trader I frequently do score that high consistently. When you achieve this sort of transformation, anything is possible, including being able to trade great systems at better than 95% efficiency.
The program is not a good fit for everyone. From a practical standpoint, you need to have sufficient capital for the program to make financial sense. In addition, because of the intense psychological nature of the program, you must believe that you are totally responsible for your trading results and be eager to work on yourself. That’s why attendance at either the Peak Performance 101 Workshop (which focuses on trader psychology) or the Oneness Awakening Workshop (which focuses on spiritual development) is a prerequisite for the program. Dr. Tharp wants to assess your receptivity to certain ideas. If you are not receptive to what we teach in those workshops, then the program will not be a good fit for you.
The program is a lot of work and some of it is very, very challenging. We look for total commitment. Totally committed people seem to always reach their objectives regardless of obstacles.
If you have $200,000 or more to trade, then this program can make a lot of sense. You could easily save the cost of the program by learning simply how to avoid a few large losses. Furthermore, it’s our intention that you would be able to recoup the total cost of the program within a few years.
If you have $50,000 to $100,000, then this program probably doesn’t make financial sense. Instead, take the time to learn about, and achieve, financial freedom. However, we look at each application and may decide on a case-by-case basis to allow the student to enter if there are extenuating circumstances.
During Super Trader 1, we want you to focus on first things first. Doing systems work or trading before you are psychologically ready means you will take more time to finish the program. If you normally spend 20 hours a week on your psychological work, attending one workshop (about 24 in-class hours over three days—not to mention travel time!) will “cost” more than a week’s worth of work from your psychological assignments. Not only will that lengthen the time it takes you to finish the Super Trader I requirements, you’ll find your trading will continue to suffer because you are developing systems that contain all of the biases that you have not yet overcome. We have had several students enter the Super Trader program, attend lots of technical workshops, procrastinate or totally avoid the psychological assignments, and then wonder why they can’t trade very well. If you are truly committed to becoming a Super Trader in every sense of the term, then you have to do your psychological work first.
Super Trader 1 candidates can still attend technical workshops – for a fee and some have done so.
There are now two distinct levels of achievement for the program: completion and graduation. Completing the 22 psychological lessons and documenting five major transformational changes in your life as part of Super Trader 1 elevates you to “completion” status. This phase has usually helped people achieve the objective of massive personal transformation. People who complete Super Trader 1 tend to say that what happened to them during this phase is priceless.
After completing Super Trader 1, however, you are still nowhere near graduating the program. To become a graduate, a Super Trader has to create a business handbook and have actively traded three approved trading systems at a very high efficiency level.
What you learn in the program could help you trade other people’s money and help you manage your clients. I have not structured the program, however, to teach you how to set up a money management business. Our emphasis is on your psychology and efficient, mistake-free trading – which would certainly benefit anyone who wants to manage other people’s money – which some of my former Super Traders have gone on to do.
No, not anymore. I trade my own retirement funds but I no longer place money with others.
About half of the people in the Super Trader program right now live overseas. Recently, we have had seven Super Traders from Australia, six from various countries in Asia, one from South America, and a number more from Europe.
We take several measures to ease the burden of long-distance travel on our international Super Traders. First, much of the information exchange for the program can be done by email and Skype. We also have an online collaboration website for the Super Traders, which is always available, regardless of location. Libby Adams’ Academy of Self-Knowledge 28-day course is done by Skype.
Second, because frequent travel to the US can be a hardship for our international Super Traders, we almost always present workshops in pairs so one trip here allows attendance at two workshops. Also, we hold Super Trader-only workshops in conjunction with the Super Trader Summit which always falls in the first week of December.
Finally, we typically present two or three workshops once each year in Asia and in Europe.
When people are working on their personal issues, they run into obstacles. Many are not willing to work through the obstacles and instead they dance around them. And thus, they could take years of working on their own to do what could be done in one year with a coach and a structured program. We now give our candidates three years, but if psychological obstacles stop them, then they won’t progress until they break through the resistance they are experiencing. The most common obstacle to progress is people trying to escape from resisting certain issues rather than being willing to feel certain feelings and go through whatever comes up for them.
See the section on sabbaticals, which includes details on the two opportunities you have to leave the program, should something major arise.
Right now there are several workshops that only Dr. Tharp does (101, Oneness, Systems Thinking, Mental Strategies and Infinite Wealth, but we are looking to make sure we have backups from him for these workshops in the future.
Dr. Tharp and one of his ST1 graduates are the only ones who can score the lessons. However, we are looking forward to training several staff members to do that in the future.
There are risks to everything, and this is a risk you would be taking. In the event that something happened to me, you could simply stop payments if you felt disadvantaged by continuing the program. My company has been working actively to provide a lot of structure to the program and have others start helping me with the Super Traders so they could continue in the program if anything happened to me in the near term.
First, I own the business and because the company has no mandatory retirement age, I don’t have any requirement to retire.
Furthermore, I have no desires to retire. I have the freedom to do only what I love to do so I feel like I’m already living the ultimate retirement. All aspects of the business that I don’t want to be involved in have been handled by a very capable staff for a number of years already.
Most of our Super Traders who have completed the first half of the program would argue that the benefits of the twenty-two lessons alone are well worth the price for the entire program. You get all that in just the first one to three years.
We still emphasize the oneness blessing because that simply seems to accelerate transformations. But this is an optional part of the program designed to improve your experience in the program.
Dr. Tharp no longer advocates the Oneness University program. Instead he recommends Sri Vidya (A Siddha Yoga program done through Stuart Money who presents at the Supertrader Summit). You can also qualify for this program by going to a 3-4 day workshop in India. However, this is not a required part of the program at all. It is designed to help you transform faster but it totally optional.
This question is a little difficult to answer because an official “graduation” like we have now was not part of the program a few years back.
For a long time, Super Traders were allowed to just attend all of our workshops for two years and work with me to solve any issues they felt they needed to address. They determined what they wanted and needed from the program. There was neither an official completion point nor a graduate status like we have today. People were happy with two years of exposure to our programs and my coaching.
In about 2008, I started adding Super Trader lessons and completion requirements for them to the program. In 2009, we developed the separate ideas of completion and then a level of achievement beyond simply “doing all the lessons” to complete the program. One year later, we came up with the strong criteria for graduation and that’s what you read about now.
Since 2009, we have had 67 Super Traders officially complete Super Trader 1. Some people get to that point and are very happy with their transformed lives and trade on their own or go on to other projects. For example, one person is writing a novel, another is focused on developing a food business – though both still trade. Others want to achieve the level of trading required for Super Trader graduation. Since 2013, we have 11 names on the “Super Trader Graduate” plaque in our training room. More are added each year.
First, the 95% efficient trade criterion is not the overall objective of the program. The overall objective is a massive transformation. I make that clear in Trading Beyond the Matrix.
Second, this question assumes that 95% trading efficiency is a stumbling block, but it’s not. Personal issues are the stumbling block. By the time candidates have documented five significant transformations, overcoming trading mistakes are truly minor problems. Overcoming mistakes typically is a huge issue, however, for traders who haven’t made the kind of massive transformation expected in Super Trader I.
Third, most of the people who completed the program but didn’t graduate seemed to just stop doing Super Trader work after the two-year program in the past or after finishing Super Trader 1 now. Those who stopped, for the most part have been very happy with their accomplishments. For example, a local real estate businessman went through the old program and said he was the only developer among his regional peers who did not go bankrupt in 2008/2009. He credits the survival and growth of his business to what he learned in the Super Trader program. Even though he never completed the entire psychological portion of the program, he came back to our offices two years later to explore creating a program like Super Trader 1 for people in professions outside trading. His story says a lot to us about the effectiveness of the program for helping people transform their lives.
Of those Super Traders whose business plans and systems I have approved, probably 70% of them reach graduation. There’s been only one person that the specific 95% efficiency criteria proved to be the identifiable roadblock for graduation. He had met all of the graduation criteria in less than 18 months – except for the 95% trading efficiency. He then decided to withdraw from the program and just trade his own way at that point. He’s probably doing much better than he ever could have without having done all of the Super Trader work.
After graduation, Super Traders no longer have to turn in any results. Because they have graduated from the program, however, these traders understand the importance of high efficiency trading and they also have the knowledge about how to resolve any trading problems that come up. Trading successfully is an exercise in internal control and they have already tackled far more challenging tasks simply by completing Super Trader 1 and meeting the graduation criteria.
The first step is to attend a Peak Performance 101 Workshop or Oneness Awakening Workshop. Usually, during a lunch at these workshops, I meet with anyone who is interested to talk about the Super Trader program. If you are still interested after that, then you would complete a commitment statement and the application. We look for the depth of your commitment, the strength of your discipline, and your willingness to do the psychological work that ensures your success in this program. In addition, the program should make financial sense for you.
If you meet the entry criteria and you are ready to start, we will look for an upcoming month with an open slot. We only accept two new candidates into the program each month, so space is limited. As a result, you may be accepted but have to wait a few months before officially starting the program.
I meet with people who are interested in the Super Trader program during the workshops and answer all their questions at that time. People truly committed to personal transformation and trading excellence will find a way to attend either Peak 101 or the Oneness Workshop to get their questions answered. Also, you may call or email my office and a VTI team member will be happy to help get your questions answered.
We look forward to meeting you at an upcoming Oneness Awakening or Peak Performance 101 workshop.
Have A Question?
Please don't hesitate to contact us. We look forward to your questions and wish you the very best in your trading endeavors