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How to apply

Between the approvals, documentation, and tight timeline, applying to MSSA takes significant planning. We’ve broken the process into major steps so that prospective participants and CSP providers understand the process end-to-end and can prepare for success.

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Getting started

Once you’ve made the choice to pursue MSSA as your avenue to IT, you’ll need to apply for an upcoming cohort. The application process looks daunting, but it’s worth it. Your journey to a tech career begins here — and our team is behind you every step of the way.

Step 1: Select a program that works for you

As of 2022, you can select from six time zones on three continents.

Our intention is to skill US service members stationed overseas in more accommodating time zones while promoting joint services engagement, understanding, and goodwill.

Empowering U.S. service members globally

Expanding the areas we serve welcomes more veteran talent into our hiring pipeline, which includes IT industry roles with Microsoft-US and our 1,000+ hiring partners.

Service members with different uniforms fist-bump.

Step 2: Choose your learning path

Chart your journey by selecting an MSSA learning path.

Cybersecurity Operations (CSO)

Become a cybersecurity operations professional who can protect and defend both on-premises and cloud infrastructures. Be part of a team to defend IT infrastructures against malicious cyberattacks. Topics include infrastructure and security fundamentals, core cybersecurity, and Microsoft Azure security technologies.


*Preferred candidates have 2+ years of experience in networking, server operating systems, and cybersecurity.

Server and Cloud Administration (SCA)

Become a system administrator who can install, configure, manage, and support IT resources on premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment to meet the technology needs of major organizations. Topics include creating Windows Server workloads, implementing networking, virtual machines, authentication and authorization, cloud models, and Azure administration.

Cloud Application Development (CAD)

Become a C# programmer to build local, server based and cloud-stored applications. Concepts include database programming, data integration and manipulation, C# application programming with ASP.NET MVC application development in Azure.

Step 3: Select your program dates

Identify an upcoming cohort

20 weeks before each cohort’s start-date, the application window opens for 2 weeks.

Information for transitioning service members

Step 4: Kick off your application

Initiate your application during the 2-week application window

Once you’ve decided which cohort is right for you, you’ll need to submit basic information to the application portal during the application window to kick off the admissions process.

Get started! Click here to apply to MSSA.
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Kick off the admissions process during the application window

At this stage, you don’t need documentation in-hand—just your basic information. Once we’ve verified your eligibility, our admissions team will reach out with next steps to submit documentation for materials cutoff.

Step 5: Track your application

MSSA Admission timeline

A timeline of the MSSA admissions process, which takes approximately 20 weeks from the opening of the application window (two weeks) to the release of admissions decisions 3-4 weeks before the start of the applied-for cohort.
The MSSA admissions process takes approximately 20 weeks from the opening of the application window (two weeks) to the release of admissions decisions 3-4 weeks before the start of the applied-for cohort.

Step 6: Submit all documents before materials cutoff

Materials cutoff is a hard deadline. Make sure you're ready.

All required documents must be submitted inside the documentation submission window, and no later than the materials cutoff deadline.

When you initiate your application during the application window, you will receive instruction on how to submit required documentation. Submit documentation early! When the first item of documentation is received by our admissions team, you will be assigned an application manager–who can help you navigate the rest of the application process. By materials cutoff10 weeks before cohort start date—all documents must be submitted in order to be considered for interviews.

Eligibility documentation

Documentation and command approval

Transitioning service members and veterans have different application and documentation requirements, which also vary between service branches. Word to the wise: get an early start and upload each item of documentation as you receive it.

Learn specific documentation requirements for your branch and service status

Active duty? Find the right POC.

Prerequisite certifications

Build a technical foundation with prerequisite certification

Don’t have one? Don’t worry! We’ll provide vouchers and/or training during the Application Review window for eligible applicants in the application cycle.

By Materials Cutoff you will need to provide evidence of current certification in a prerequisite aligning to your chosen learning path. Your application manager will provide guidance on when and how to acquire certification.

During the admissions process MSSA applicants are provided vouchers to access exam preparation materials and exam/certifications costs, provided they do not already meet prerequisite requirements with an alternative exam.

Step 7: Interview

Next step: interview with our admissions team

All applicants who submitted required documents by materials cutoff and are verified eligible will be interviewed by MSSA’s admissions team.

Tips to keep in mind while applying

Moving documentation through base command and obtaining technical certifications don’t happen overnight! Get organized and start early.

Young soldier woman using a computer into her office in military building

Upload documentation as you get it

As you receive documentation, upload it as you get it, rather than all at once. Application Managers are notified that documents have been submitted and process your application as it’s received. Submitting documentation early allows more opportunity to catch and correct any documentation errors that could impact your eligibility.

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[Un]official eligibility checklist

We’re invested in the success of each of our participants. Experience has shown that certain factors make otherwise eligible applicants unlikely to fully benefit from the time investment MSSA participation requires. Review the factors listed here and be sure that MSSA is a good fit for you before investing time preparing for Materials Cutoff.

Admissions decisions

Charting your Path

Admissions decisions are released approximately one month before the cohort start date.

What if I’m not selected?

Qualified, eligible applicants are not extended admissions every cycle we offer. There are a set and limited number of seats in each cohort, which we do intentionally to preserve the student experience and learning outcomes. Because cohort sizes are restricted, admissions are competitive, with many more desirable applicants than we can accommodate each cycle.


We know how disappointing it can be to not receive an offer to a particular cycle. Remember that inexperience is not a factor in admissions decisions, and that a disappointing result in one application window does not indicate that you would not be accepted in another application cycle.


While it is disappointing to not receive an offer of admission in a particular application cycle, know that this is a bump in the road — not the end of the road — on your journey to tech, whether it’s through MSSA, other skilling opportunities through Microsoft, or our extended network of mission partners.

Keep in mind

You are free to apply to another cohort cycle!
Stay tuned to application windows for upcoming cohorts and initiate another application as a transitioning service member or a veteran.

Onward to virtual skilling

There are many low-or-no-cost avenues to technical skilling in Microsoft’s learning ecosystem. A wealth of foundational courses, learning paths, and industry-recognized certifications in IT are at your fingertips, just a few clicks away.

Get a head start on technical curriculum by exploring curated resources that align to MSSA learning paths

Before materials cutoff, participants are required to earn the certificate associated with their chosen learning path

This may seem daunting, but you will be well prepared! We’ve developed custom courses on LinkedIn Learning to introduce you to some of the content covered in each MSSA learning path.

To ensure success in the MSSA program, we expect you’ll begin with a fundamental understanding of the technology taught in your cohort. We require you provide a current valid Pearson Vue IT Specialist (ITS) certificate aligning to your chosen learning path.

Cybersecurity Operations

Pearson Vue IT Specialist (ITS) certificate: Networking.


Alternative certification accepted:
• CompTIA Net+ or CompTIA Sec+
• MTA 98-366: Networking Fundamentals

Server and Cloud Administration

Pearson Vue IT Specialist (ITS) certificate: Networking.


Alternative certification accepted:
• CompTIA Net+ or CompTIA Sec+
• MTA 98-366: Networking Fundamentals

Cloud Application Development

Pearson Vue IT Specialist (ITS) certificate: Software Development.


Alternative certification accepted:
• MTA 98-361: Software Development Fundamentals

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Prepare for MSSA with LinkedIn Learning tools built just for you

MSSA LinkedIn Learning paths are custom learning paths created through a collaboration with the LinkedIn Learning team and Microsoft Military Affairs group. Two learning paths aligned with core MSSA learning paths were created with the intention of serving as a technical preparation resource for the MSSA program.

Some concepts covered in LinkedIn Learning Paths build on ITS exam prep materials, so they may be new to you. Learning paths are intended to ramp-up and prepare participants for the course taught in the MSSA curriculum. This will help students get more familiar with fundamentals concepts, terminology and be able to ask good questions to instructors.

Each learning path has 10-14 hours of learning content. A premium LinkedIn subscription is required to access LinkedIn learning paths.

Access your year subscription to LinkedIn Premium

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Prepare for MSSA by arriving with your ITS certification in hand

The Pearson VUE Information Technology Specialist (ITS) certification is an entry-level credential that validates fundamental technology skills and knowledge among students and job seekers who are pursuing a career in technology. During the application process, eligible applicants will be supplied with resources to obtain the ITS certification aligned to their chosen learning path as a program prerequisite.

Learn more about the ITS exam — and resources to help you prepare

Get to know the MSSA graduate network