Child Development Associate (Full Program)

The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE) and is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in ECE.

The CDA Credential™ is based on a core set of competency standards which guide early care professionals as they work toward becoming qualified teachers of young children.

Our program prepares you to obtain either your Infant-Toddler or Home Visitor CDA Credential. In addition to the coursework, throughout the program you will work with an advisor who will guide you through preparing your professional portfolio, conducting family questionnaires, preparing for your CDA exam, and gathering all of the materials you’ll need to include in your application.

For more information on the CDA credential, go to

Course Format
The program is delivered through the University of Minnesota’s online learning platform, and is comprised of readings, out-of-class assignments, and online discussion. Courses are taught by UMD Education Department faculty, all of whom have extensive experience teaching educators and working with children and families.

You should expect to spend approximately  4-6 hours per week on coursework. All work can be done on your own time as long as it is completed by the assigned due date.

Program Overview/ Course Descriptions

Social/Emotional Development 0-5                                                                 45 Hours

Provides information needed to evaluate and implement behavior supports that are appropriate for young children who exhibit challenging behaviors. A key element will be functional behavioral assessment procedures and a range of preventative behavioral interventions.


Trends and Issues in Early Childhood Education                                           45 Hours

Historical and cultural perspectives of Early Childhood Studies. Theoretical models for the education of young children from birth through age eight will be addressed through professional exploration. Methods for facilitating child development as well as strategies for collaborating with families and communities will be discussed.


Building Healthy Relationships With Families                                                15 Hours

Explore family systems development and ways to effectively build relationships and work with families in a home visit setting.


Brain Development in the Context of Environments and Relationships         45 Hours

Issues related to early brain development and the biological underpinnings of early emotional and cognitive development. A biological view of attachment and social vulnerability.


CDA Preparation and Support                                                                        30 Hours

Advising and guidance in preparation for submitting a CDA application. Includes support for creating a professional portfolio, conducting a self-study and family questionnaire, writing competency and professional philosophy statements, and preparing for the CDA exam.