Horizon Leadership Academy | Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators

Earn a Central Office Endorsement on an Administrator Certificate through MASA’s Horizon Leadership Academy!

Our Fall Cohort is underway – Check back for Spring Cohort information soon!

MASA is authorized through the Michigan Department of Education to issue Administrator Certificates with a Central Office Endorsement using an alternate pathway to certification. 

The Horizon Leadership Academy (HLA) focuses on strengthening leadership skills and strategies that equip school leaders to become effective central office first-line assistants and superintendents.

HLA is aligned to the approved Michigan Standards for the Preparation of Central Office Administrators as well as the National Education Leadership Standards (NELPS) – District Level. The program is designed for new superintendents, aspiring superintendents, central office administrators, and building administrators and directors who are looking for a job-embedded and authentic avenue to earn their Central Office Endorsement (CO) on their current administrative certificate.

For those who do not yet possess a certificate, candidates can earn an administrative certificate and central office endorsement as a package. 

**Please note, if you are aspiring to be a building-level principal and earn your (ES) Endorsement, please refer to the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals Path to Leadership Program.

Throughout your HLA experience, you will work with cohort members to network and learn about the skills and expected proficiencies of central office leaders and superintendents, while connecting to the actual work and initiatives within your own district. Cohort members are expected to complete all assigned homework and course projects, identify a mentor, and complete a 240/300-hour internship/clinical experience. You will engage in meaningful projects within and for your district, to assure immediate application of skills learned within the course. Throughout the course, candidates will create a digital portfolio of their projects demonstrating their application of competencies.

Program Content and Skills Overview: 

  • Using Influential Leadership Strategies 
  • Leading Activities that Foster School Climate and Culture 
  • Ensuring Equity in Education 
  • Understanding Individuals’ Perspectives, Needs, and Behaviors 
  • Using Coaching Strategies across Various Scenarios and Situations 
  • Leading, Implementing, and Measuring Strategic Planning Initiatives 
  • Leading Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology as part of Continuous Improvement 
  • Leading and Supporting Instructional Staff for Student Success 
  • Using Effective Communication to Educate, Support, Influence, and Advocate
  • Facilitating School Operations and Management 
  • Developing Effective Teams and Addressing Group Dynamics 
  • Leading and Fostering Family and Community Engagement
  • Establishing effective Board Governance and Superintendent Relationships
  • Demonstrating accountability with School Law, Policies, Regulations 
  • Operationalizing School Budget and Financial Planning 
  • Expanding knowledge and strategies for Effective  Labor Relations (Relationships, Contract Negotiations and Administration)

Program Cost

This is a tuition-based program.

$150 non-refundable application fee

$9,500* including materials/resources (billable over two fiscal years)

*additional costs may apply for missed sessions required for make-up

Eligibility Requirements for Enrollment

  1. Degree requirement:
    As per R380.105 (1246(1)(b)): Candidate must possess a master’s or higher degree, OR A bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 3 years of experience performing work at the Central Office level (e.g. a District Business Official, Human Resource Director, State & Federal Programs Director etc).
    *If the candidate is seeking admission with only a Bachelor’s Degree, MASA requires a letter of recommendation from the superintendent attesting to the individual’s skills and experience, along with a contract of employment or job description for the three years of service in this capacity.)
  2. Completion of MASA Horizon Leadership Academy application
  3. Submission of most recent college/university transcripts

Additional Requirements

  1. Each candidate, along with HLA faculty, will mutually select a mentor for the duration of the program
  2. Each candidate will complete an internship/clinical experience of 240 or 300 hours over the course of a minimum six-month period, depending on certifications needed and current position at the building or district level
  3. Candidates will receive a final grade for the course based upon the submission of an online digital portfolio, equity audit/reflection paper, final recommendations paper, and capstone project. 
  4. Please review the dates listed at gomasa.org/horizon and confirm your availability to participate with your district/supervisor. Given the nature of the program, attendance is required at all sessions. 
  5. Confirm your understanding of the terms/conditions defined in the application. 
  6. A $150 non-refundable application fee is due at the time of application. 
  7. Once accepted, at least 50% of the tuition fee must be paid at least 30 days prior to the cohort start date. The remaining balance is due in the following fiscal year. 
  8. Candidates seeking a school administrator certificate and/or their Central Office Endorsement (CO) have three years to complete the program, and all requirements, once they are enrolled as participants.

Spring 2024 Cohort info coming soon!

Please check back for dates and application information.

Spring 2023 – Virtual Cohort

Dates coming soon!

Fall 2023 – In-Person Cohort

Dates coming soon!

Given the structure/format of this alternative pathway program, attendance at each session is mandatory.

Satisfactorily completing the Horizon Leadership Academy Program will earn candidates a Central Office Endorsement on their current Administrative Certificate and 150 SCECH credits.

Candidates who do not currently hold a building level certificate/endorsement may earn their school administrator certificate concurrently by completing an additional 300-hour internship experience.

*New!* Earn Credits at Western Michigan University

Ed.S. Program
HLA graduates who earn their Central Office Endorsement (CO) may apply to the Specialist in Education program leading to an Ed.S. Offered fully online, this program will prepare candidates for leadership roles in educational administration positions and is appropriate if you are seeking a post-master’s degree, but not a doctoral degree. Candidates can articulate up to  12 credits from MASA to WMU of the required 54 credits required for degree completion. Candidates may also transfer up to 30 credits from their Master’s degree leaving just 12 credits required for degree completion.

Ph.D. Program
HLA  graduates may apply to the Doctor of Philosophy program leading to a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership: K-12 Leadership Concentration. Due to the increasingly complex tasks including research and data analysis within all types of educational institutions, there is a demand for strong, transformational leaders. HLA graduates wishing to develop leadership skills and serve as a superintendent or other central office administrator within a school district serving elementary and secondary students will want to pursue this program.

Candidates can articulate up to 18 credits from MASA to WMU of the required 63 credits required for degree completion. Candidates may also transfer up to 6 credits from their Master’s degree leaving 39 credits required for degree completion. Candidates must also pass the core comprehensive examinations, create and defend a dissertation proposal, implement that proposal, and defend the dissertation findings.

Frequently Asked Questions

An endorsement is a credential placed on a school administrator certificate that signals that the individual has earned it by going through a program of study designed to focus on skills centered around a particular area. The Central Office Endorsement in the Horizon Leadership Academy Program attests that the holder has learned and can apply the skills needed to be successful at the central office level. An endorsement is transferable and may be recognized in other states beyond Michigan.

We place a high value on participants attending every session and provide the dates in advance so that you may arrange your schedule accordingly. This program incorporates active problem-solving and networking between cohort participants, which is impossible to do when you are not present. If an emergency or extenuating situation presents itself and you miss, you will need to contact your trainer to discuss next steps.

For those concurrently earning a school certificate and/or central office endorsement, you will also need to complete your 240/300-hour internship.

Yes, by satisfactorily completing the program by attending all sessions, submitting all projects, papers, etc. and completing your 300-hour internship you will earn your School Administrator Certificate with a Central Office Endorsement.

Yes, if you have a current School Administrator Certificate, you will earn 150 SCECHs.

Many districts require a Central Office Endorsement for the positions of superintendent, assistant superintendent, director, or other central office positions.

Every situation is different. We recommend you contact Dr. Brian Davis, Associate Executive Director of Professional Learning to discuss your unique situation.  

Phone:(517) 885-3089

No. You must attend all of the sessions and complete all program requirements in order to earn a School Administrator Certificate and Central Office Endorsement.


For additional questions or more information, please contact Dr. Brian Davis at bdavis@gomasa.org