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MSSA Application Window Now Open!

The window to submit applications to MSSA's July 8—Nov. 1, 2024 cohorts is OPEN! Submit your application to the application portal before Mar. 4 at 1700 Pacific Time.
Kick off the admissions process

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

Find answers

General program information

Program information

Is MSSA a full-time program?

Yes. MSSA is a full-time program facilitated between the hours of 0800-1700, Monday through Friday.

At this time, MSSA has offerings in Pacific or Central Time. MSSA-Europe is conducted in Central European Time.

Self-guided and part-time offerings are not supported. Participants are required to attend class virtually, be attentive, and be available for open discussion, collaboration, and lab work. Some sessions may run later depending on class projects and assignments. Participants do not need to physically reside in the offering time zone to participate but must be able to commit to the time zone for the cohort duration.

What are the program prerequisites and eligibility requirements?

A certificate of completion to the LinkedIn Learning path aligned to the applicant’s MSSA learning path.

Required documentation is based on an applicant’s current military status at the time of application.

Required documentation by status:

In addition to eligibility and technical prerequisites, please refer to pertinent information relevant to your current military status.

Does MSSA offer cohorts in different time zones?

Yes. At this time, MSSA has offerings in Pacific or Central Time. MSSA-Europe is conducted in Central European Time.

Self-guided and part-time offerings are not supported. Participants are required to attend class virtually, be attentive, and be available for open discussion, collaboration, and lab work. Some sessions may run later depending on class projects and assignments. Participants do not need to physically reside in the offering time zone to participate but must be able to commit to the time zone for the cohort duration.

Funding

Is MSSA a VA-approved program? Is MSSA a DOD-approved SkillBridge program?

Currently, MSSA is not a VA-approved program.

Yes, MSSA is a DoD-approved SkillBridge program. Our program credentials can be found by searching “MSSA” on the DoD SkillBridge website .
Further information on the general SkillBridge program can be found at SkillBridge.osd.mil.

Is MSSA paid and/or an internship?

MSSA is not a paid training program, nor is it an internship.

What is the cost of MSSA?

Microsoft made the announcement in late January 2021 that it will be fully funding the MSSA program. Program costs are covered by Microsoft. There is no cost to the service member.

For those accepted into the program, eBooks for the topics covered are provided no cost to the participant. Additional supplemental study materials may be purchased as an out-of-pocket cost, but they are not required by the program.

Does Microsoft cover housing and any other living expenses?

No. Microsoft does not provide housing or cover costs related to housing and other living expenses while participants are enrolled in the program.

Can I use my GI Bill or BAH to cover additional expenses?

MSSA does not handle GI Bill and/or BAH release or deliverance. Please contact your local Veteran Affairs (VA) office to inquire about the availability of such benefits while enrolled in the MSSA program.

Suitability

What level of technical education or experience is needed for MSSA?

For SCA and CAD learning paths: MSSA is an entry-level technical training program. Previous technical education or professional experience is not required for admissions consideration.

For CSO learning path: Preferred candidates need to have a combined 2+ years of experience in the following three areas: Networking, Server Operating Systems and especially Cybersecurity (emphasis on InfoSec, Security Operations, SOC, CSOC, Analyst).

What should I expect to learn while in the program? Who is this program right for?

MSSA’s learning paths are designed to instill a foundational level of knowledge in IT. MSSA is best suited to individuals looking to transition into the IT field from another profession, those with little knowledge but much passion about IT, and those coming back into the IT field after a long period of absence. MSSA is suitable for entry-level applicants as well as those with prior exposure to IT.

If MSSA does not seem like the right fit for you, we welcome you to check out these other Microsoft training opportunities:

Can I work/go to school full-time and do the program?

MSSA is a full-time commitment over 17-weeks. It is highly advised that participants do not work or attend school full time during the cohort cycle (0800-1700, Monday-Friday, instructional time zone).

Are evening, self-guided/paced, or part-time cohorts offered?       

No. Self-guided, self-paced, evening, and part-time offerings are not supported.

I am currently working in IT. Will MSSA provide supplemental training for my job?

MSSA is a training and employment program and is not appropriate to be used as supplemental on-the-job training.

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Eligibility

Active-duty applicants*

Do I have to be within 180-days of end of service to apply?

To participate in a DoD SkillBridge/Career Skills Program (CSP), an active-duty service member must be in their last 180 days of service at the program start. For example, if the program start date is July 1, then your end of service date may not be further than July 1 plus 180-days (December 28).

Permissible Exceptions: exceptions will be reviewed and, if verified, approved only if:

  • An applicant is engaged in an active medical evaluation board. Applicants will be required to supply a memo from their command confirming their medical board status during the admissions process; or
  • An applicant’s end of service/separation date is no further than thirty (30) days beyond the 180-day cutoff (210 days from program start). Applicants will be required to supply command approval authorizing this extension beyond 180-days during the admissions process. Service members are allowed to leverage terminal/transitional leave to qualify for this exception (i.e., count back their separation date), however, will also be required to provide command approval authorizing the use of leave. In either case, the service member’s actual or adjusted end of service/separation date must remain within the 210 days from program start offered by Microsoft Military Affairs.

If either exception applies to you, you will receive information on next steps and your required documentation during in the application process. Please do not send sensitive documentation via email. You will receive instructions on how to provide additional documentation from a MSSA Program Team member. 

If neither of these scenarios apply to you, we are unable to grant an exception. MSSA is unable to accept any other waivers or command approval for beyond the thirty (30) day extension already granted by Microsoft Military Affairs. This policy is in place to both be flexible for applying service members and veterans, and to best support the MSSA program’s ultimate goal and mission: to get our graduates jobs at the completion of the program. Hiring teams and companies looking for candidates often are seeking immediate start dates after graduation. In order to offer both our graduates and our partners the best avenue for success, we have set our policy to extend no further than 210 days from program start.

Do I have to be active-duty for the entirety of the cohort? What if my end of service/separation date is in the middle of my selected cohort dates?  

Active-duty participants do not need to remain in active service for the entirety of the cohort duration unless stipulated by their chain of command (i.e., via mandatory contract extension). Microsoft Military Affairs and the MSSA Program Team are not involved in setting policy on this matter; if you have additional questions, please connect with your chain of command, directly.

Many past graduates of MSSA have transitioned off of active service during the cohort cycle. However, please note that admissions requirements will be based on the applicant’s military status at the time of application. For example, if you will transition off of active service during the cohort cycle, your admissions requirements and documentation requested will be based and processed on your active-duty status at the time of application, not your future status as separated during the cohort cycle.

*Command approval

How do I find my SkillBridge/Career Skills Program (CSP) coordinator?

Consult with your local Transition Office or Education Office for service specific SkillBridge/Career Skills Program (CSP) application and enrollment guidance. If you are deployed or at a remote installation and do not have a local coordinator, a request form can be submitted to SkillBridge for assistance.

MSSA program team members are not SkillBridge or CSP points of contact. Do not list people from the MSSA team as your SkillBridge or CSP representative on your application form or command approval documentation.

For command approval, what does my branch require?

MSSA requires authorization from the appropriate level of command for an applicant to participate in the program. Our program title “Microsoft Software and Systems Academy” must be specifically stated. In addition, the correct cohort start and end dates must be clearly outlined. Please note that MSSA is not an internship.

MSSA directs service members to check with their local Career Skills Program (CSP)/SkillBridge or Education Office to ensure they have the correct paperwork for their location. Many branches and locations have specific guidelines.

Common command approval formats we have received include: 

Army: CSP Packet and/or Solider Participation Memorandum
Marine Corps: SkillBridge Packet, to include vetting checklist
Navy: CHIT, Special Request/Authorization form, or Command Memo
Air Force: Vetting checklist and/or SkillBridge packet
Space Force: Command Memo
Coast Guard: Command Memo

Please note: if the documentation states that something is attached or enclosed (such as a vetting checklist), the service member must ensure all enclosures are uploaded to be considered.

For my command approval, I need a MSSA point of contact. Who do I list?

Company Name: Microsoft       
Address: One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington, 98052         
Point of Contact: Eric zu Hone  
Email Address: [email protected]

I need an acceptance letter for my command approval.  How do I get that?

Microsoft and MSSA cannot supply an acceptance or offer letter until an applicant has been accepted. We understand some transition offices may be unwilling to sign off until an acceptance or offer letter is received. Should an active-duty applicant be offered a seat in the program, their full acceptance will be contingent on the completion of any signatures required on their Command Approval documentation.

We advise applicants to supply us with the portion of their Command Approval package with their command’s signature. This can be in the form of a Command Memo on official letterhead stating that they are allowed to participate in MSSA should they be accepted. This memo must include our program name and the correct cohort dates signed off on by their chain of command.

Applicants will be able to continue in the admissions process with only their command signatures but completed documentation must be returned to the MSSA program team no later than 1 week after an Acceptance Letter is sent (if extended acceptance).

Veteran, Guard, and Reserve applicants

Does the 180-day restriction apply to me?

No. The 180-day eligibility requirement and related information applies to active-duty program applicants only.

To qualify, is there a time limitation to when I transitioned out of the service? Is there an age restriction to qualify for MSSA?

No. There is no age restriction or limitation on how long an individual has been out of the service to qualify for MSSA.

Other eligibility questions

I am fully disabled. Will I qualify for MSSA?

Qualifications for disabled active duty, veterans, retired military, National Guard and Reserve members will be the same as the qualifications previously mentioned above. MSSA evaluates candidates equally based on the required documentation submitted and via an interview process. Reasonable accommodations and modifications can be made within the program’s means. Accepted applicants are encouraged to start accommodation requests prior to the cohort start date.

Do spouses, relatives, veteran caregivers, and military dependents qualify for MSSA?

No. MSSA is available to active-duty service members, veterans, retirees, National Guard and Reserve members, only. Military spouses, relatives, caregivers, and dependents do not qualify to apply for MSSA.

Do current or past government employees qualify for MSSA?

No. MSSA is available to active-duty service members, veterans, retirees, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve members, only.

As a MSSA graduate, can I apply and participate in another cohort?

No.  MSSA is excited to have you as a graduate of our program and would like to provide the same opportunity to others who are new to MSSA. 

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MSSA’s technical learning paths

What is SCA? What is CSO? What is CAD?

SCA stands for “Server & Cloud Administration”. CSO stands for “Cybersecurity Operations”.  CAD stands for “Cloud Application Development”. Information on the MSSA technical learning paths can be found on our Learning Path page.

What specific topics are covered in each learning path?

Below are the general syllabi for our offered learning paths.

Server & Cloud Administration (SCA)

  • PowerShell Scripting
  • Networking Identity and Active Directory
  • Windows Server/Windows Server Hybrid administration
  • Azure Administration

Cybersecurity Operations (CSO)

  • Windows and Linux Server Core Technologies
  • CompTIA Security+ and CySA+
  • Azure Security Fundamentals
  • Azure Administration
  • Azure Security Technologies
  • Security Operations

Cloud Application Development (CAD)

  • Programming in C#
  • Transact-SQL
  • HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript programming
  • ASP.NET Core MVC application development
  • Azure development

What careers do MSSA learning paths lead to?

MSSA graduates have been hired into a variety of IT roles including software developer, service engineer, support engineer, IT/helpdesk, program manager, and more. We encourage you to explore Microsoft Careers to learn about various professions available to job seekers in tech.

Which learning path should I choose?

Career needs and personal interests are unique to every individual. We recommend that you research the topics and career potential for each learning path before deciding CAD, SCA or CSO. Some aspects to consider are personal interests, job availability, experience required, location, salary, promotion potential, and job flexibility.

CSO applicants must have 2+ years of experience in cybersecurity, INCLUDING experience in BOTH networking and server operating systems.

To explore concepts in each learning path, we recommend exploring custom LinkedIn Learning paths created for the MSSA Program. Learn more.

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Prerequisites

Currently, I do not hold any IT certifications. Can I still apply?

Yes! No certifications are required prior to the MSSA application window. Prerequisite documentation must be submitted to your application manger before the materials cutoff deadline (~10 weeks before the cohort start date).

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The Application Process (+Required Documentation)

Application timing

How long does the application/admissions process take?

The admissions process, from start to finish, spans 20 weeks (roughly 5 months). This involves the following milestones (also visualized in the graphic, below).

20 weeks before cohort start – Application window opens
18 weeks before cohort start – Application window closes
18-10 weeks before cohort start – Applications are reviewed/processed
10 weeks before cohort start – Documentation deadline (“Materials Cutoff”)
8-5 weeks before cohort start – MSSA interviews scheduled and hosted
4-3 weeks before cohort start – Acceptance/outcome notifications released
0 weeks before cohort start – Program orientation for accepted enrollees
Cohort start dateFirst day of program

How far in advance can I apply (the “Application Window”)? Where do I apply?

The application form for a MSSA program offering opens approximately 20 weeks (roughly 5 months) before the cohort start date. This is known as the “Application Window”. The application window remains open for 2 weeks, only. All application forms for that unique program offering must be received within those 2 weeks. Early or late submissions outside of this window are not accepted.

During the Application Window, applicants may reach the application form by typing in “aka.ms/MSSAapplication” into any browser address bar. When there is no active application window open for an MSSA program offering, this site will prompt you to check back when the next application window is scheduled to open for an upcoming offering.

During the application window, the MSSA application form is the only element required for submission. Additional required documentation will be requested for upload via a secure file share location in the weeks that follow the end of the application window. Please do not send additional and sensitive documentation via email to [email protected] or via a personal file share platform (OneDrive, Google Docs, etc.). Please only submit additional documentation via the secure file share location as directed by an Application Manager after the application window has closed.

May I apply to more than one offering at the same time?

You may only have one (1) open application at a time. If there are multiple application periods that run concurrently, you may only pursue one or the other, or reapply to a further cohort date.

Each program’s start season represents a unique application process, meaning a separate application form must be submitted during the relevant application window. Applicants may not roll their submission over between application windows automatically, nor are their applications given priority consideration. Document submissions will be considered unique and reviewed individually against the specific timelines and requirements for each offering.

May I apply to more than one technical learning path for the same cycle?

No. Applicants may not apply to multiple technical learning paths within the same program offering admissions cycle. Applicants must elect their chosen pathway at the time of submitting their application form.

Documentation (“materials cutoff”)

What are the program prerequisites and eligibility requirements?

Verification of successful completion of program prerequisites. Learn more.

Required documentation is based on an applicant’s current military status at the time of application.

Required documentation by status:

In addition to eligibility and technical prerequisites, please refer to pertinent information relevant to your current military status.

Where do I submit my required documentation? Can I send it via email?

Additional required documentation will be requested for upload via a secure file share location in the weeks that follow the end of the application window. Sensitive documentation MUST ONLY be submitted to the secure file-share location provided to you by your Application Manager after the application window has closed. Do not send additional and sensitive documentation via email or via a personal file share platform (OneDrive, Google Docs, etc.).

How long do I have to submit all my prerequisite documentation? What is the Materials Cutoff date?

All documentation, including (if applicable) Command Approval, DD-214, prerequisites, or other requested information, must be received no later than 10 weeks before cohort start. This is known as the “Materials Cutoff” deadline. If all required documentation is not received by this date, the application will be closed, and the applicant will not be progressed to the MSSA interview.

The documentation deadline cannot be extended. We strongly encourage applicants to upload documentation as they have it available, not to wait to upload everything at once. Documentation received too close to Materials Cutoff may not have enough time for processing, especially if further applicant action is required. Applications will not be assigned an Application Manager until at least 1 piece of documentation has been provided.

What do I do once I have all my documentation submitted?

After all additional documentation has been validated, the next step is the MSSA interview. Interviews will be scheduled and hosted after Materials Cutoff, roughly 5-8 weeks before cohort start. Your application manager will confirm your eligibility and readiness to progress to interview via email during the admissions review process. If you have submitted your documentation and received eligibility verification from your application manager well in advance of Materials Cutoff, sit tight – you will be reached out to with further information on interview scheduling after the documentation deadline passes.

Interviews and decisions

What should I expect from the MSSA interview? When are they scheduled?

The interview is an opportunity for MSSA team members to get to know you. It is not a technical interview, nor do interviewees need to prepare to answer technical questions. Questions are geared to determine if you are the right candidate for the program and to learn about your interests and passions (including for IT). The interview is also your chance to see if the program is a good fit for you, so feel free to ask questions during it, as well.

MSSA interviews are scheduled and hosted roughly 5-8 weeks before cohort start. For detailed information on the admissions milestones and timeline, refer to our informational graphic.

Are interviews conducted virtually or in person?

Interviews are 100% virtual, hosted on Microsoft Teams.

Can you guarantee my spot in a specific cohort?

No. An application does not guarantee acceptance into any MSSA program offering. Your application will be considered equally amongst the pool of applicants for each unique offering. Your preferences (such as instructional time zone) will be considered but cannot be guaranteed. If you are extended and claim an offer of acceptance, you will be expected to commit to the live instructional schedule outlined in your acceptance notification.

How can I access the MSSA National Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?

The MSSA National MOU is not something the Microsoft Military Affairs team can distribute. As a Career Skills Program (CSP)/SkillBridge Coordinator, you should be able to access this document through the DoD SkillBridge site. Please visit DoD SkillBridge–Authorized SkillBridge Organizations and search for “MSSA.”

Where can I find the MSSA Training Plan?

A high-level training plan can be provided to the service member through our [email protected] email. If you, as the Career Skills Program (CSP)/SkillBridge Coordinator, need a more specific and detailed resource, please email us directly to receive the Microsoft Confidential MSSA Lesson Plan. Detailed training plans cannot be given directly to service members as acceptance is not guaranteed at the time of application.

Can’t find your question?

Email us at [email protected]

 


SkillBridge and CSPs

Review our FAQs for SkillBridge & Career Skills Program (CSP) coordinators.

MSSA Application Window Now Open!

The window to submit applications to MSSA's July 8—Nov. 1, 2024 cohorts is OPEN! Submit your application to the application portal before Mar. 4 at 1700 Pacific Time.
Kick off the admissions process