CDA Preschool Center Based Certificate

Congratulations on choosing to earn your CDA!

We understand completing your Preschool CDA can be daunting and overwhelming.

To support you in your journey, we have compiled the following information, including links to pertinent websites, to help you navigate what can seem like a complicated process.

The first step on this path is to visit the CDA Council website at or by clicking on the link below.

Before you start working on your CDA, we suggest you purchase (or otherwise obtain) the CDA Competency Standards Preschool Edition.  This can be found under the CDA Council book store tab. Click here to access a direct link to the book store.

Finding the information you need…

Go to

On the CDA Council home page, click on the Educator Pathways tab.

Scroll down the Educator Pathways page until you locate the Center-Based Preschool section. Click on the Learn More tab.

The Center-Based Preschool page explains the CDA Three-Step Process for earning your preschool CDA. Read through each step in the process and discover how you can grow your career in Early Childhood Education.

We have outlined this 3-step process below along with links to helpful resources.

Step 1: Prepare

During the preparation phase, you will:

  • Purchase the CDA Competency Standards Preschool Edition.
  • Complete 120 hours of formal early childhood education training.
  • Complete 480 hours of work experience in the preschool setting.
  • Put together your professional portfolio.

Ways to complete your education training hours…

There are three ways you can complete your education training hours. Each offers its own set of benefits and challenges. Read through each one to determine which best fits your needs and learning style.

  1. Take a CDA course through an approved community college program. Click on the map to locate a community college that best fits your needs.



  • T.E.A.C.H. scholarship applies to tuition fees at the colleges in this list.
  • More personal and consistent support offered by qualified teaching staff.
  • Offers support in creating your portfolio.
  • May have options for meeting in person or online.
  • May be more costly if no scholarships apply.
  • May be a longer time commitment.
  • Some only meet in person.

2. Take a CDA course through an online training center.



  • Self-paced.
  • Offered exclusively online.
  • Generally more cost effective (each agency has their own pricing).
  • Must be a self-starter.
  • T.E.A.C.H. scholarship applies to application and application fee only. It will not pay for tuition fees.

The programs listed below have been used in the past by staff in our partnering programs. It is not an all inclusive list, however, we feel confident that these programs offer a quality learning experience.

Clicking on the images below will take you to each company’s website to gather information before deciding which best fits your individual needs.

3. Take courses through MiRegistry that meet CDA training requirements.



  • Self-paced.
  • Courses are inexpensive or free.
  • Counts as MiRegistry credit for licensing and Great Start to Quality.
  • Must be an independent self-starter.
  • Must be highly motivated to locate and complete appropriate course work in MiRegistry.
  • Must be highly organized and track all of your own learning.
  • Must print and organize all training certificates.
  • Must build your professional portfolio with little guidance/support.
  • T.E.A.C.H. scholarship applies to application fee only.

Step 2: Apply


After all training requirements are met and your professional portfolio is complete:

  • Apply online using YourCouncil and pay the online assessment fee of $425, or submit a paper application provided in the green Preschool edition of the CDA® Competency Standards book with the $500 assessment fee.
  • The non-refundable, non-transferable application fee must be submitted with your application. Make sure to secure the funds before you submit your application.
  • Use the links below to go to the online application. APPLY ONLINE
  • Use this link to get additional information and apply for the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship through MiAEYC.

Once your CDA application is approved, you will receive your Ready to Schedule notice, and you can schedule your CDA Verification Visit® and your CDA® Exam. Details are provided in the green Preschool edition of the CDA Competency Standards book.

Step 3: Demonstrate

Through the CDA website, choose a PD Specialist to complete your verification visit.

Schedule and complete your CDA Verification Visit and CDA Exam. These can be done in either order.

Your results are electronically submitted to the Council by the CDA PD Specialist™ and Pearson Vue testing center.

The Council will review the results of your assessment and make a credentialing decision. If your credential is awarded you will receive an email, and the official Child Development Associate® credential will be mailed to you.

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