Master's/CAGS (Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies) Program in Competency-Based Leadership and Learning

When Southern New Hampshire University approached us to develop and lead a graduate program that would support both educators and administrators in their local CBE learning and leadership goals, that vision fit perfectly with both our mission and theirs. Our program, the NHLI-SNHU Competency-Based Leadership and Learning Graduate Program, is different. It has been designed to lift up educators and administrators in their own authentic setting, rather than removing them from their setting to learn in a seat-time environment. Districts enroll teams of two to twenty mixed educators and administrators or individuals can enroll separately. All quickly become part of the collaborative cohort model. The blended learning allows educators and leaders from anywhere to come together to form a team that moves through the two-year program as a close-knit cohort. In this way, the learners experience peer leadership, distributive leadership, and social-learning in ways that they are able to replicate in their schools. This Competency-Based Leadership and Learning journey is meant to enhance and transform an educator’s life’s work, no matter where it leads.

---Mariane Gfroerer, Director of Advanced Studies, NHLI

Course Design

Competency-based educators designed this program to integrate job-embedded learning that supports learners as they practice CBE in their classroom or school.  This is not time-in-the-seat learning.


Course Delivery

This is an 18-month program.  Consecutive courses of 8-week terms may include asynchronous online instruction and delivery as well as synchronous zooms designed with busy educator schedules in mind.  Four times per school year, the cohort meets at SNHU for a full Saturday meeting (Oct, Jan, Mar, and May/Jun). During COVID times, these meetings have been scheduled virtually. Each summer (one summer per program) the cohort attends an NHLI  conference learning experience as part of the program.


Differentiated Learning

Both Master’s and CAGS students are members of the same cohort, with differentiated learning for their role and their chosen pathway.  The program has the capacity to create specialized cohorts for special education or CTE educators if a team of at least 15 in that field apply.


A cohort may be up to 25 people from various schools and districts.  It is most effective when districts enroll a team that includes both leaders and educators.  The cohort forms a collaborative community of practice. The cohort model promotes cross-pollination of ideas and provides a supporting environment for each student.



Program instructors are knowledgeable and experienced New Hampshire and national CBE leaders. Instructors will provide assignments, support, and guidance on all activities, in-person and online.


School Impact

The coursework builds Competency-based system capacity within the classroom and across your district.  The educators who go through the program form a community of practice, enhancing teacher retention and becoming CBE leaders within the school and district.

Cost and Enrollment


Cohort members must apply, complete the registration process, and designate if they are to be in the Masters’ or CAGS level program. Both Master’s and CAGS students are members of the same cohort, with differentiated learning for their role and their chosen pathway.


New Cohort Begins in September 2023

The next cohort will begin in September 2023 and runs continuously through June 2025.  Registration through SNHU must be completed by early August of 2023 to start with the September cohort.


Cost is $375 per credit, a 50% discount from other graduate programs. The M.Ed. requires 36 credits and the CAGS requires 31 credits.



Graduate Program Registration

Click Here to start the online application:  NHLI/SNHU Graduate Program registration for 2023-25.  Select “NHLI: Competency-Based Education.”


Monthly Information Sessions

Join Mariane Gfroerer, Director of Advanced Studies for NHLI, at a virtual information session every month (January through June).   Click here to have the zoom link sent to you for the next information session.


Graduate Credit Option for Full Participation in Select NHLI's PD Series

Select NHLI PD Series support graduate credit on their own. For full participation in these programs, participants can earn from two to six transferable graduate credits.

Select PD Series 

Programs such as OGAP mathematics training, the Powerful Learning Conference and Work Study Practices have the Graduate Credit Option.



The graduate credit cost is $195/credit, payable to NHLI before the program begins.  This is in addition to the registration fee for the PD series (if applicable).


How Will I Know If a PD Series is Eligible for Graduate Credit?

Material for each PD series will identify if the Graduate Credit Option is available.


For More Information

Contact Mariane Gfroerer, Director of Advanced Studies for NHLI for more information on the Graduate Credit Option.  Email her at