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Standards of Excellence Certification Program

Cohort VII is closed and we will open Cohort VIII in February 2022. Check back for details soon!

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Magnet schools are changing lives and outperforming all other types of schools. Isn’t that the educational brand with which you want to be affiliated? With certification, your school offers parents, students and community partners confidence that each nationally certified magnet school, no matter its location, is held to the same high standard in every school district.

Based on the National Magnet School Standards of Excellence and the five pillars of magnet schools (1. Diversity; 2. Innovative Curriculum and Professional Development; 3. Academic Excellence; 4. Leadership; and, 5. Family and Community Partnerships), the MSA certification process defines and ensures these standards as consistent, essential elements and characteristics of high-quality magnet programs.

Why become a nationally certified magnet school?

Call it, “looking at your school through the lens of excellence.” Applying for certification raises the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow. In addition, the certification becomes an invaluable asset to your marketing and ability to seek support for your school.

What is the process to become nationally certified through MSA?

To become nationally certified, MSA member schools must submit a detailed application and participate in a rigorous evaluation conducted by the National Institute for Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL). The next cohort of schools will begin the certification process August 2021 and run through June of 2022.

Contact us today, to learn more about the Magnet Schools of America Standards of Excellence Certification Program.


What is the cost of the application for certification?

The cost is $1395.00 per school. (If you hire a coach to assist your school, that is an additional cost.)

Will there be a district rate or does each school pay separately?

At this time, there is no district rate. Each school must apply separately and pay the individual school fee.

What is due at the time of application?

In addition to completing the application form, you must submit the fee of $1395 (via check, credit card, or purchase order). If you select to pay with a check or purchase order, payment must be received in the National Office within 10 business days of submission.

Make check payable to:

Magnet Schools of America, Inc.
PO BOX 45739
Baltimore, MD  21297-5739

A Supervisor Signature page is also required to be completed and emailed within 10 business days of submission to  (you may obtain this from our website ahead of time). Your application will be numbered in the order that it is received.

If we don't reach certification, can we get a refund?

No refunds will be given.  We encourage you to use the information you have learned to improve your school and to reapply in a subsequent year.

What if we don’t finish addressing the standards by the end of the application year? Can we get an extension?

A one school year extension can be granted by the Director of NIMSL. The extension fee is $195 per school.

How many years do I need to be a magnet school before applying?

All schools are at different developmental levels of their program, but as a rule of thumb, three years. Schools that are in their third year may apply as they will be completing the process in their fourth year.  During this time frame, you will have the data, documentation, and evidence needed for a complete application. With complete information, you will be able to tell the success story of your school.


What are the benefits of applying for certification?

When you apply for certification, you are looking at your school through the “lens of excellence.” You will be self-evaluating, providing documentation, and in some cases, writing SMART Goals in the areas that need improvement. You are asking that your school be rated as one of the “best of the best” magnet schools in the nation. Such a designation will be invaluable to your marketing and ability to seek support for your school.

Should we also apply for the merit awards?

We strongly encourage all of our schools to apply for any recognition opportunities that Magnet Schools of America offers to their members.

How long is certification valid?

Your certification will be valid for four school years. At that time, you may reapply to continue or improve your rating. We encourage schools to strive for the top designation of MSA Certified National Demonstration School.

How do we recertify?

In order to recertify, you would work with extended indicators allowing your school to demonstrate maintenance or growth in all areas of Certified and Demonstration levels.


When will we be trained on the online platform to address the standards?

Upon your acceptance within the program, you will receive dates and times for your online training sessions.

Who can help us with the online platform including login and technical details?

The Certification Help Desk email,, can assist you with log in needs and technical details.

How long will it take to address all of the standards?

The process allows for approximately nine months to complete toward certification. If the work is not complete within that time, you may ask for an additional school year extension at a small fee to complete your work.

If we are not certified, will our information be stored in the system if we choose to reapply?

The system is not set up to archive information; therefore, each application will require that you re-submit your information. Districts are encouraged to archive their information.

If we don’t reach certification, can we get a refund? No refunds will be given. We encourage you to use the information you have learned to improve your school and to reapply in a subsequent year.

How will we be recognized if we are certified?

Your school and district will be notified via official letter from the Director of NIMSL and recognized at the National Conference (see below).

If we are certified, will we be recognized at the National Conference on Magnet Schools?

At the conference, you will be presented as a National Certified Magnet School and receive your Seal of Recognition. You will stand before your peers from across the country as one of the “best of the best” magnet schools.


Who can assist us if we need help addressing the standards?

For specific help in addressing the Standards, the National Institute of Magnet School Leadership (NIMSL) will, upon your request, help you in selecting the appropriate professional development or assist you with questions in this area. Any specific professional development and/or coaching will be provided at an additional fee to the school. (All such fees will be provided at a very reasonable rate.)

What if we have questions about the process or the evidence?

Your questions will be directed to the Certification Help Desk email,, that was set up specifically for this process.

Are these standards just for certification or can we use them for school improvement?

MSA’s Standards of Excellence are based on the Five Pillars of magnet schools. These Pillars and Standards are available to all of our member schools, but you will not have access to the indicators until you are officially accepted into the certification process. (NIMSL does offer other training and coaching. Click here for more information.)


What kind of evidence do we need to provide?

You should have most of the information at your fingertips. There is no need to create more work other than in the areas of a SMART Goal or professional development if needed. There is skill in providing appropriate evidence and avoiding the “wheel barrow” approach of including too much information. Evidence and documentation that is succinct and to the point will be discussed at length during informational webinars which will be recorded and posted on the certification page of our website.

How long after the close of the application year will it take for the evaluation of our work to be completed?

All applications will be scored on a rubric by trained readers/evaluators within 60 days after the closing date.

Are there different levels of certification?

There are two certification ratings: Certified National Demonstration Magnet School (exceeds the criteria) and Certified National Magnet School (meets the criteria).

Magnet School must be a member in good standing.  Membership inquiries, please email OR call 202.824.0672.

Authorized Signature Page (Required)

Collaborator Information Table

Maximum of 6 team members

Standards of Excellence

Five Pillars of Magnet Schools

The national certification process is based on the Magnet School Standards of Excellence and the five pillars of magnet schools (diversity; innovative curriculum and professional development; academic excellence; high quality instructional systems; and, family and community partnerships). These pillars and standards define the essential elements and characteristics of high-quality magnet programs.

To become nationally certified, MSA member schools submitted a detailed application and participated in a rigorous evaluation conducted by MSA. The application process required schools to submit evidence demonstrating how they met each of the multiple indicators included in the Standards of Excellence. This included providing specific examples of how the school was promoting school diversity, closing the achievement gap, integrating a theme-based curriculum throughout the school, and encouraging parent and community involvement.




Tucson Unified School District

  • Carrillo K-5 Magnet School  |  Certified 2019
  • Mansfeld Middle School | Certified 2021


Pasadena Unified School District

  • Altadena Arts Magnet | Certified 2021

Vista Unified School District

  • Mission Vista High School  |  Certified 2017


Broward County Public Schools

  • Apollo Middle School  |  Certified 2017

Duval County Public Schools

  • Jacksonville Beach Elementary SchoolCertified 2021

Hillsborough County Public Schools

  • MacFarlane Park Elementary | Certified 2021
  • Riverhills Elementary Magnet IB World School | Certified 2021

Miami-Dade County Public Schools

  • Air Base K-8 Center For International Education  |  Certified 2017
  • Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts  |  Certified 2018
  • Coral Gables Senior High School  |  Certified 2018
  • Coral Reef Senior High School  |  Certified 2017 & 2021
  • Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School | Certified 2019
  • Howard D. McMillan Middle School  | Certified 2019
  • Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy  | Certified 2019
  • Lamar Louise Curry Middle School  | Certified 2019
  • Maritime and Science Technology Academy  | Certified 2019
  • Miami Lakes Educational Center  |  Certified 2020
  • New World School of the Arts  |  Certified 2017
  • Ponce de Leon Middle School  | Certified 2019
  • Shenandoah Middle School Museums MagnetCertified 2019
  • TERRA Environmental Research Institute | Certified 2019
  • W.J. Bryan Elementary Museums Magnet School  |  Certified 2020
  • Young Women’s Preparatory Academy  | Certified 2018

Pinellas County Schools

  • Ridgecrest Elementary Center for Gifted Studies  |  Certified 2018


Clayton County Public Schools

  • M.D. Roberts Middle School of the Arts | Certified 2021


Chicago Public Schools

  • Chicago High School for the Agricultural Sciences | Certified 2021

Elgin Area Schools – School District U-46

  • South Elgin High School: Beacon Academy of Media and Digital Arts | Certified 2021


Cedar Rapids Community School District

  • Johnson STEAM Academy  | Certified 2019
  • Kenwood Leadership Academy Magnet School | Certified 2021
  • Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy | Certified 2021


East Baton Rouge Parish School System

  • Mayfair Laboratory School  | Certified 2019


Independent School District 196

  • Glacier Hills Elementary School of Arts & Science  | Certified 2018


Clark County School District

  • East Career and Technical Academy  |  Certified 2017
  • Gordon McCaw STEAM Academy  |  Certified 2021
  • Walter Bracken STEAM Academy | Certified 2021


New York City Community School District 28

  • MS 358: The Magnet School for S.T.E.A.M. Exploration and Experiential Learning  |  Certified 2020


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

  • Piedmont OPEN Middle School, An IB World School  |  Certified 2017 & 2021

Wake County Public School System

  • Broughton Global Studies/Language Immersion Magnet High School  Certified 2019
  • Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School | Certified 2021
  • Douglas Creative Arts & Science Magnet Elementary | Certified 2021
  • Fox Road Magnet Elementary – an IB World School  |  Certified 2019
  • Moore Square Magnet Middle  | Certified 2019
  • Reedy Creek Magnet Middle School Center for the Digital SciencesCertified 2020
  • Vernon Malone College and Career Academy  |  Certified 2020


Richland School District Two

  • Center for Knowledge/Center for Knowledge North  | Certified 2018
  • Center for Inquiry | Certified 2021
  • Forest Lake Elementary NASA Explorer School  |  Certified 2020
  • Kelly Mill Middle School  | Certified 2018
  • Longleaf Middle School: School of Zoological and Botanical Studies Magnet / Engineering and Arts Program | Certified 2021
  • Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary School ACE Magnet Program  | Certified 2018
  • Muller Road Middle School/Leadership Academy at Muller Road | Certified 2021
  • Pontiac Montessori  | Certified 2019
  • Richland Northeast High School | Certified 2021
  • Spring Valley High School Explorations & Discovery Magnet Program  | Certified 2019
  • STEMS at North Springs Elementary  |  Certified 2017
  • Westwood High iRED Magnet School  | Certified 2019


Galveston Independent School District

  • L.A. Morgan Elementary Magnet School of Science & Engineering  |  Certified 2019
  • Scott Collegiate Academy  |  Certified 2017



Dothan City Schools

  • Heard Magnet School  | Certified 2018
  • Montana Street Magnet School  | Certified 2018

Huntsville City Schools

  • Academy for Academics and Arts | Certified 2018
  • New Century Technology High School  |  Certified 2017

Montgomery Public Schools

  • Bear Exploration Center for Mathematics, Science, & Technology  | Certified 2018


Tucson Unified School District

  • Davis Bilingual Magnet ElementaryCertified 2021
  • Tucson High Magnet School  | Certified 2019


Los Angeles Unified School District

  • Cleveland Humanities Magnet  | Certified 2018
  • Franklin High School STEM Magnet | Certified 2021
  • Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies | Certified 2021


Bridgeport Public Schools

  • Aero/Hydrospace Engineering and Physical Science at Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus  | Certified 2018
  • Biotechnology Research and Zoological Sciences  | Certified 2018
  • Information Technology & Software Engineering High School  | Certified 2018


  • Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin College  |  Certified 2017

New Haven Public Schools

  • John C. Daniels Interdistrict Magnet Schools of International Communication  | Certified 2018
  • Quinnipiac Real World Math STEM School  | Certified 2018

New London Public Schools

  • Science & Technology Magnet School of Southeastern Connecticut  | Certified 2018

Waterbury Public Schools

  • Maloney Interdistrict Magnet School  | Certified 2018
  • Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School  |  Certified 2017
  • Waterbury Arts Magnet School  | Certified 2019


Broward County Public Schools

  • Attucks Middle School Cambridge Global Communications Academy  | Certified 2019
  • New River Middle School  | Certified 2018
  • South Broward High School  | Certified 2018
  • Wilton Manors Elementary School  | Certified 2018

Duval County Public Schools

  • Douglas Anderson School of the Arts  | Certified 2019
  • Mayport Coastal Sciences Middle School  | Certified 2019
  • Pine Forest Elementary School of the Arts | Certified 2019

Hillsborough County Public Schools

  • Jefferson High School College Preparatory Leadership AcademiesCertified 2017 and 2021
  • Lee Elementary Magnet School of World Studies & Technology  |  Certified 2017
  • Lincoln Elementary Magnet School  | Certified 2018
  • Middleton High School/Pre-Collegiate STEM Academy |  Certified 2017
  • Muller Elementary Magnet School  | Certified 2018
  • Shore Elementary Magnet School of the Arts  |  Certified 2017
  • Sligh Middle Magnet School  |  Certified 2017
  • Stewart Middle Magnet School  |  Certified 2017
  • Tampa Bay Technical High School  |  Certified 2018

Miami-Dade County Public Schools

  • BioTECH @ Richmond Heights 9-12 High School  | Certified 2018
  • Center for International Education: A Cambridge Associate School  | Certified 2018
  • Design and Architecture Senior High  |  Certified 2017
  • Dr. Henry E. Perrine Academy of the Arts  | Certified 2018
  • Frank C. Martin K-8 Center  |  Certified 2017
  • G.W. Carver Middle School/Center for International Education  |  Certified 2017
  • Herbert A. Ammons Middle School  |  Certified 2017
  • International Studies Preparatory AcademyCertified 2019
  • iPrep Academy PK-12  | Certified 2018
  • John F. Kennedy Middle School – Biomedical & Environmental Agriculture Technology Magnet Program  |  Certified 2017 & 2021
  • Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial High School  | Certified 2018
  • Medical Academy for Science and Technology  |  Certified 2017
  • South Miami K-8 Center Expressive Arts Magnet Certified 2019
  • Sunset Elementary School  | Certified 2018

Orange County Public Schools

  • Howard Middle School Academy of Arts  |  Certified 2018

Pasco County Public School

  • Bayonet Point Middle School | Certified 2021
  • Centennial Middle School | Certified 2021
  • Sanders Memorial Elementary School | Certified 2021

Pinellas County Schools

  • Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary, Center for Mathematics & Engineering  |  Certified 2017

Seminole County Public Schools

  • South Seminole Middle School  |  Certified 2017


Clayton County Public Schools

  • Elite Scholars Academy | Certified 2019
  • Kay R. Pace Elementary School of the Arts  | Certified 2019
  • Martha Ellen Stilwell School of the Arts  | Certified 2018
  • Morrow High School Magnet Program  |  Certified 2020
  • Unidos Dual Language Academy | Certified 2019


Chicago Public Schools

  • Walt Disney Magnet School  | Certified 2018


Jefferson County Schools

  • Frederick Law Olmsted Academy South  | Certified 2018


Caddo Parish Public Schools

  • South Highlands Academic and Performing Arts Magnet  | Certified 2019

Calcasieu Parish Public School System

  • T.S. Cooley Elementary Magnet School  |  Certified 2018

East Baton Rouge Parish Schools

  • Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts  |  Certified 2017
  • Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet  | Certified 2018
  • Baton Rouge Magnet High School  |  Certified 2017
  • Belfair Montessori Magnet School  | Certified 2018
  • Forest Heights Academy of Excellence  | Certified 2018
  • McKinley Middle Magnet School  Certified 2018
  • Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy  |  Certified 2018
  • Sherwood Middle Academic Magnet School  | Certified 2018
  • Southeast Middle School | Certified 2019
  • The Dufrocq School  | Certified 2018
  • Westdale Heights Academic Magnet  | Certified 2018 


Baltimore County Public Schools

  • Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet School of Technology  |  Certified 2017


Osseo Area School District

  • Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math, and Technology School  |  Certified 2018


Clark County School District

  • Cashman Middle School/Academy of Mathematics, Science, & Engineering  |  Certified 2017
  • Ed W. Clark High School  |  Certified 2017
  • K.O. Knudson Middle School  | Certified 2018
  • Jo Mackey Academy of Leadership and Global Communication  | Certified 2018
  • Mabel Hoggard Magnet Elementary School  |  Certified 2017
  • Northwest Career and Technical Academy  |  Certified 2017 & 2021
  • Rancho High School  | Certified 2019
  • Roy W. Martin Middle School  | Certified 2019
  • Southwest Career and Technical Academy  |  Certified 2017
  • The STEAM Academy at Jim Bridger Middle School  | Certified 2018


Albuquerque Public Schools

  • Coronado Elementary School  |  Certified 2018
  • San Antonito STEM Magnet Elementary  |  Certified 2020


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

  • Barringer Academic Center  |  Certified 2017
  • Chantilly Montessori  |  Certified 2017 & 2021
  • Cotswold Elementary  |  Certified 2017
  • Highland Mill Montessori Elementary School  | Certified 2018
  • Idlewild Elementary School  |  Certified 2017 & 2021
  • J.M. Alexander Middle School  | Certified 2018
  • Lansdowne IB World School  | Certified 2019
  • Legette Blythe Elementary IB World School  |  Certified 2017
  • Randolph Middle School  |  Certified 2017
  • Trillium Springs Montessori  | Certified 2019

Wake County Public School System

  • A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary  |  Certified 2017
  • Brentwood Magnet Elementary School of Engineering  |  Certified 2017
  • Carroll Leadership in Technology Magnet Middle School  | Certified 2018
  • Conn Active Learning and Technology Magnet Elementary  |  Certified 2017
  • Douglas Creative Arts and Science Magnet Elementary School  |  Certified 2017
  • Enloe Magnet High School  | Certified 2019
  • Farmington Woods IB/PYP Magnet Elementary School  |  Certified 2017
  • Fuller Gifted and Talented/AIG Basics Magnet Elementary School  |  Certified 2020
  • Hunter GT/AIG Magnet Elementary  |  Certified 2017
  • Kingswood Montessori/STEM Magnet Elementary School Certified 2018
  • Ligon GT/AIG Magnet Middle School  | Certified 2018
  • Martin Gifted & Talented Middle School  | Certified 2019
  • Millbrook High School  |  Certified 2017
  • Washington Magnet Elementary School  | Certified 2018
  • Wendell Creative Arts and Science Magnet Elementary School  |  Certified 2017
  • Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary School  |  Certified 2017 & 2021
  • Zebulon Magnet Middle School  |  Certified 2020

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

  • RJ Reynolds Arts Magnet School |  Certified 2017


District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties

  • Dutch Fork Elementary School  | Certified 2019
  • Irmo High School  | Certified 2018
  • Irmo Middle School International Academic Magnet (iAM)  | Certified 2019
  • Spring Hill High School  | Certified 2019

Richland School District Two

  • Dent Middle School  | Certified 2018
  • E.L. Wright Middle School (IB and Leadership Academy at Wright)  |  Certified 2017 & 2021
  • L.W. Conder Elementary Arts Integrated Magnet School | Certified 2021
  • Richland Northeast High School  |  Certified 2017
  • Ridge View High School  | Certified 2019


Hamilton County Schools

  • Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts  |  Certified 2017


Galveston Independent School District

  • Ball High School – BioMedical and STEM CommunitiesCertified 2020
  • Ball High School – Media Arts & Digital Technologies Magnet  | Certified 2018
  • Oppe Elementary School  | Certified 2018


School District of Waukesha

  • Summit View Elementary Magnet School of Integrated Arts, Design and Creativity  |  Certified 2017

Learn how to become a Nationally Certified Magnet School

Raise the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow.

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