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Child Development Associate

This course is designed to fulfill the educational and written portfolio requirements of the Child Development Associate (CDA) National Credentialing Program by the Council for Professional Recognition. Students that complete this course will be prepared for the online CDA exam as well as living-wage employment with a career in the early childhood field.

In addition to completing 120 total hours of education and demonstration of competency in eight CDA subject areas, students also complete the required Professional Portfolio as well as a résumé. Students also benefit from job readiness coaching, connection to CDA scholarships and to support for continued education through Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

During this course, students are required to work or volunteer in a high-quality early childhood setting. Upon completion of this course, students begin their application, approval, assessment and credentialing process with the Council for Professional Recognition.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is it?

The Child Development Associate Program is a national effort to support quality care for preschool children. The Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, D.C. grants the credential to preschool teachers working in the U.S. With the credential, you can work as an assistant/lead teacher in a preschool classroom in Minnesota. Some programs also require a college degree to work in their centers.

2. What are the Council's requirements?

You need to have a high school diploma (a copy from another country is acceptable) or GED, and be able to read, write and speak English. A Professional Development Specialist will ask to see your diploma or GED. You must also have worked for 480 hours in a licensed family-based or center-based childcare.

3. When do you offer classes?

The next class offering will be September 2019-June 2020. Classes will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the South Campus location.

4. Is there a fee?

The class is free but there is a materials fee for the class textbook and booklet. The application fee to the Council is $425. There are scholarships for the application fee to the Council available for childcare workers and volunteer interns.

5. How long does it take to get the credential?

You must complete 120 training hours as well as a Professional Portfolio and Family Questionnaires. In addition to attending the course, you must also work/volunteer in a licensed family-based or center-based childcare while attending class. Once you have completed the course work and 480 hours in the field, you will apply to the Council of Professional Recognition. Once accepted, a Professional Development Specialist will do a Verification Visit at your worksite. You will also take a computerized CDA exam at a Pearson VUE Testing Center. The council will review your results and make a final decision on granting a credential.

6. How long does the license last?

The license lasts for three years from the date that it was issued and then it must be renewed. For specific renewal requirements, please visit Council for Professional Recognition CDA Renewal page.

For more FAQs regarding the CDA process, please visit the Council for Professional Recognition FAQ page.


  • High School Diploma or GED (a credential from another country is acceptable)
  • Meet reading and writing assessment test requirements
  • 480 hours of experience working in a licensed childcare setting