Horizon Leadership Academy | Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators

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 superintendents and central office administrators.

HLA is aligned to the 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 a Central Office Endorsement (CO) on their current Administrator Certificate.

For those who do not yet possess a certificate, candidates can concurrently earn an Administrator Certificate and Central Office Endorsement. 

*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 the HLA experience, candidates work with other 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 their own district. Candidates engage in meaningful projects within and for their district, to ensure immediate application of learned skills. Throughout the program, candidates will create a digital portfolio of their projects demonstrating their application of competencies, as well as identify and work with a mentor to complete a 240/300-hour internship/clinical experience. 

New Cohort Starting in September!

(See below for details)

Fall 2024 Cohort – Virtual

Application Deadline:

Sept. 13, 2024

Session Dates:

Sept. 30 & Oct. 1, 2024
Nov. 4 & 5, 2024
Dec. 9 & 10, 2024
Jan. 27 & 28, 2025
Feb. 24 & 25, 2025
March 17 & 18, 2025
April 28 & 29, 2025
June 16 & 17, 2025
Aug. 4 & 5, 2025
Sept. 29 & 30, 2025
Oct. 20 & 21, 2025
Nov. 17 & 18, 2025
Dec. 15, 2025

Application Fee: $150 (non-refundable)

Program Tuition: $9,500* (billable over two fiscal years)

Materials: Textbook costs may also be required.

*Additional fees may apply if make-up sessions are required.

Application Process

  • Step 1: Click the apply button to the right to submit interest and pay the non-refundable $150 application fee. (Please be sure to read the entire description of the program below and required session dates.)
  • Step 2: Once the application fee is received, candidates will receive confirmation and details regarding the next steps, including the following:
    • Disposition Review – A Disposition Review of each candidate’s leadership character traits and future/current leadership capacity to be a district leader must be completed and submitted by up to three references including your current supervisor. (Candidates will provide a link to references for confidential completion and submission.)
    • Master’s Degree Transcript – Candidates must submit a copy of their Master’s transcript for review.
    • District Support – All candidates must submit a District Support and Understanding Form with sign-off from their current supervisor in order to participate in the program.
  • Step 3: Upon review of a candidate’s complete application materials and verification of candidacy, candidates will receive a link for the final HLA Application including demographic information of the candidate and current school, district, ISD/RESA.
  • Step 4: Candidates will be notified of application status within two weeks of final submission.

Important Details

  • 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 concurrently earn their School Administrator Certificate by completing an additional 300-hour internship experience.

Enrollment Eligibility Requirements

  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 for the selected Cohort above 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.

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)

HLA Post Graduate Articulation

Two postsecondary options are now available to HLA program graduates (since 2020)!

Application, enrollment, and scope of the required classes varies by candidate’s prior master’s degree work and HLA cycle completed. HLA may articulate up to 15-18 credits toward degree attainment.

Western Michigan University – Ed.S. or Ph.D.
→ Contact: Dr. Rusty Stitt – wayne.r.stitt@wmich.edu

Northern Michigan University – Ed.S.
(leading to a possible Ed.D. with Central Michigan University)
→ Contact: Dr. Bethney Bergh – bbergh@nmu.edu

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.