Child Development Associate Certificate

Format: Online, On Campus
Application Deadlines
  • Spring 2024 Priority Deadline: November 2, 2023
  • Spring 2024 Regular Deadline: December 7, 2023

Offered in partnership with the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute (PDI) the Child Development Associate (CDA) Certificate at the CUNY School of Professional Studies is the only compre­hensive credit-bearing Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate in New York City. The program provides students not only with the required coursework but also advisement, writing support, portfolio creation, career services, and classroom observation in pursuit of the Child Development Associate Credential.

Students in the program:

  • Demonstrate the use of the developmental perspective in their work with young children and families
  • Support second-language learners and children with special needs in early childhood education programs effectively
  • Examine and reflect on their teaching, both orally and in writing
  • Apply effective classroom practices and create developmentally appropriate learning environments
  • Use strategies and techniques to strengthen connections between their centers and children's homes
  • Use skills and resources to assist parents in caring effectively for their children


Students are expected to complete 120 hours of fieldwork per course at a licensed childcare program, regardless of whether a student intends to pursue the CDA. In the last course (EDUC 203), fieldwork will be observed by an assigned fieldwork observer. A vital source of evidence of a student’s skills is actual hands-on work as a teacher with children and families, which also provides a student with an opportunity to learn through experience. Fieldwork offers students an opportunity to see their practice in light of new knowledge from the CDA coursework.

Students currently employed by a licensed program serving children birth – 5 years can utilize their place of employment for their fieldwork hours. Students who are not employed by a licensed program will be placed in a site that is agreed upon by the instructor and student. Students are expected to complete 480 hours of fieldwork prior to completion of the certificate program.


Ever since I enrolled at CUNY SPS CDA program, many doors have opened for me. Firstly, I feel better prepared to work with children in the classroom. My coursework has enabled me to build a positive, curiosity-filled, nurturing, and safe learning environment for my diverse learners. Each day brings a new adventure with the chance to apply my learning within my classroom walls.The CDA coursework has taught me many strategies that I have been able to implement in my classroom. I am thankful for this opportunity every day.
– Jasminie Jones, CUNY SPS CDA Alumna


Khadijah Frederick

When I took the CDA course in 2018, I just needed 16-18 Ed credits for work but I didn't realize that I would learn so much from that program and how it would change me and become the catalyst I needed to get me back in to school to finish my degree. It changed my perspective and truly made me a better educator. I didn't go on to become certified by OCFS but it sparked something else in me.
Now I am 3 classes away from the finish line, I'm so excited to close this chapter and proud of myself for finally seeing this through. I owe so much to the knowledge I learned from you and the other professors in the CDA program. Those courses taught me tools that I use in my trainings and orientations with my current and perspective staff. It became more than a minor licensing requirement for work and DOH, it sparked me to take my education further.
– Khadijah Frederick, CUNY SPS CDA Alumna

Career Prospects

The certificate is designed for preschool teachers, childcare workers, and other individuals looking to work in Early Childhood Education. The nationally recognized Child Development Associate Credential has been accepted as a state requirement for working in many early childhood centers.

The structure and curriculum of the CDA Certificate are designed to complement the Child Development Associate National Credentialing Program’s Competency Standards. Students who complete the requirements of these credit-bearing courses, with faculty advisement, can go on to submit a portfolio to the Council for Professional Recognition in order to earn the CDA Credential.

Credits earned through the successful completion of these CDA courses may also be applied to degree programs, thus establishing the foundation for career advancement.

Scholarship Opportunities

Eligible students can take advantage of the following scholarship opportunities:

Custom Programs

For more information on how the CDA Certificate can benefit your staff and organization, please contact Dr. E.J. Jun, Director of Higher Education Initiatives, New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, or Maxine Barton, College Assistant.

Articulation Agreements

Articulation agreements are formal agreements between CUNY SPS and two-year colleges and universities, allowing students to transfer the maximum number of credits with ease to our CDA Certificate from institutions with which we have an established transfer process in place.

Admissions Criteria

Candidates for admission to undergraduate level certificate programs must possess a high school diploma or a High School Equivalency diploma from New York State (also known as TASC or GED). Applicants are required to submit a personal statement. Current employment and background as an assistant teacher is an advantage but not essential for admission.

Application Deadlines

  • Spring 2024 Priority Deadline: November 2, 2023
  • Spring 2024 Regular Deadline: December 7, 2023
Apply Now

Recent News About Child Development Associate Certificate

Two CUNY SPS students looking at tablet computer together

CUNY SPS Celebrates Highest Enrollment and Largest Transfer Student Class

October 20, 2023

In an eye-popping increase, over 4,400 students enrolled at CUNY SPS for the Fall 2023 semester.

Cover of the Journal of Montessori Research

BOOK REVIEW: The Bloomsbury Handbook of Montessori Education

September 18, 2023

Journal of Montessori Research: Vol. 9, No 1

Dr. Claudine Campanelli, who oversees the CUNY SPS Child Development Associate (CDA) and Children’s Program Administrator Credential (CPAC) programs at CUNY SPS, published a book review on the new Bloomsbury Handbook for Montessori Education in the Spring 2023 issue of the Journal of Montessori Research.
Dr. Claudine Campanelli smiling and standing next to John Mogulescu

Dr. Campanelli Wins John Mogulescu Innovation Prize

May 10, 2023

Dr. Claudine Campanelli, the program administrator of CDA and CPAC at CUNY SPS, was awarded the inaugural John Mogulescu Innovation Prize.

2022 Outstanding Dissertation Award

February 10, 2022

American Montessori Society

Dr. Claudine Campanelli, who oversees the CUNY SPS Child Development Associate (CDA) and Children’s Program Administrator Credential (CPAC) programs, has been awarded the 2022 Outstanding Dissertation Award by the American Montessori Society (AMS) for her dissertation "Birth to Three Language Acquisition: Influences of Ambient Language in the Montessori Setting". She will be sharing her research findings at the 2022 national AMS conference this March.