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Prerequisite certifications

MSSA v1 veteran graphic depicting two Soldiers in camo

A Pearson Vue IT Specialist (ITS) certification* is one of the requirements for acceptance into the MSSA program.

You do not need to have the certification before you submit your MSSA application. Once you have submitted your application, eligible applicants will be issued vouchers for the exam, a practice test, and training materials. *Learn about equivalent certifications

What is the Pearson VUE ITS Certification?

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.

Can I still apply if I do not hold any certifications?

Yes, you can apply to the MSSA program if you do not hold any certifications.

Which certification do I need?

Applicants must achieve the following certification (or equivalent) for the learning path in which they are applying prior to the Materials Cutoff date*:

Server & Cloud Administration
(SCA)
Cloud Application Development
(CAD)
Pearson VUE ITS-NetworkingPearson VUE ITS-Software Development

*Materials Cutoff date is the date by when all application materials are to be submitted to Microsoft.  This date is determined by the MSSA cohort applied for and will be communicated to anyone applying to MSSA.   

Will MSSA provide an ITS exam voucher?

Yes. Eligible applicants who have applied to a specific MSSA program offering, and who do not already hold an approved alternate certification will receive one (1) ITS exam training voucher, one (1) Practice test voucher, and one (1) Pearson VUE ITS exam voucher

How long should I expect to prepare for the exam?

Everyone’s individual learning pace and style is different. There is no set study timeframe that works for everyone. Plan for 30-50 hours of preparation to successfully pass the exam. Actual hours depend on your current knowledge of the technology and your personal pace to learn and retain new material.

Begin studying as soon as possible and learn the material to the best of your own abilities. Qualifying applicants will receive vouchers for ITS exam training/prep materials and practice test during the application process.

Please note, the provided resources alone do not guarantee a passing score, and it is highly recommended that you find additional study materials that work best for your learning style.

Will MSSA accept equivalent certifications in lieu of the ITS certification?

To keep equity amongst our candidates, it is required that each candidate take the corresponding ITS exam to their desired learning path (or) currently hold one of the certifications on the approved list, below, in correspondence with their desired technical learning path.

Microsoft does not issue exam vouchers for alternate certifications.

Alternative certifications accepted for SCA:

  • CompTIA Net+
  • CompTIA Sec+
  • MTA 98-366: Networking Fundamentals

Alternative certification accepted for CAD:

  • MTA 98-361: Software Development Fundamentals

Will MSSA provide vouchers for CompTIA or MTA certifications?

No. Microsoft does not issue exam vouchers for these certifications.

Can I take the ITS exam before the application process starts?

Yes. However, individuals are responsible for all costs.

Veterans and Service members may be eligible for a Pearson VUE ITS exam voucher through VA or Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) programs. For more information, visit Pearson VUE’s resources for test-takers.

How do I schedule my ITS exam?

Eligible MSSA applicants will receive instructions on how to schedule their exam during the application process.

What happens if I fail or miss my ITS exam? Can I get another voucher?

Microsoft will provide one (1) ITS exam voucher per applicant. Replacement vouchers will not be issued for failed or missed exams.