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Resources for SkillBridge & CSP coordinators

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for career skills and transition support coordinators

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Program details

MSSA program information

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

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

MSSA is not a VA-approved program.

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

Career Skills Program (CSP) and SkillBridge Coordinators can access the MSSA National MOU by searching for “MSSA” on DoD SkillBridge–Authorized SkillBridge Organizations.

Is MSSA a full-time program?

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

MSSA is conducted in Pacific or Central Time.
MSSA-Europe is conducted in Central European Time.

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. 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.

Where can I find the MSSA Training Plan?

Detailed training plans cannot be given directly to service members as acceptance is not guaranteed at the time of application.

If you as the CSP or SkillBridge Coordinator need a more specific and detailed resource, please email us directly to receive the Microsoft Confidential MSSA Lesson Plan. A high-level training plan can be provided to the service member upon request.

Applying to MSSA

How far in advance can a service member apply? When does the application window open?

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
”. 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.

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 below graphic.

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

What are the program prerequisites?

Applicants must provide a certificate of completion for 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:


Must be within 180 days of end of service at program start. For eligible exceptions, review applicant FAQs.


Must submit Command Approval to participate.
Approval must include:

  1. Separation date
  2. Current service standing
  3. Details about the specific MSSA cohort being applied to (e.g. cohort start and end dates)


Documentation verifying end-of-service date.
ex. BIR, LES, SRB, Transition or Retirement Orders.


Must submit Command Approval to participate.
Approval must include:

  1. Separation date;
  2. Current service standing;
  3. Details about the specific MSSA cohort being applied to (e.g. cohort start and end dates)

Program funding

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.

Is MSSA paid and/or an internship?

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


Applicant eligibility verification

Service member eligibility

What are the eligibility requirements for active-duty service members, guard, and reservists?

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

Required documentation by status:

Are spouses, relatives, veteran caregivers, and military dependents eligible for MSSA?

No. Military spouses, relatives, caregivers, and dependents are not eligible for MSSA at this time. Eligibility is limited to Active-Duty service members, veterans, retirees, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve members.


Are there exceptions to the 180-day rule? Can a service member use transitional/terminal leave when counting back their 180 days?

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.


Prerequisite documentation

Command approvals

What kind of command approval is appropriate per branch?

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 upload enclosures to be considered.

To get command approval, my service member needs an acceptance letter.

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).

Submitting approval for your service member

Where do service members submit their required documentation?

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. Only submit additional documentation via the secure file share location provided to you by the Application Manager after the application window has closed.

How long do service members have to submit prerequisite documentation?

All documentation, including (if applicable) Command Approval, DD-214, program prerequisites, and other requested information must be received no later than 10
weeks before cohort start. This date 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.

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