General Program Information

  1. Is MSSA a full-time program?
  2. Is MSSA a DOD-approved SkillBridge program?
  3. What should I expect to learn while in the program? Who is this program right for?
  4. What level of technical education or experience is needed for MSSA?
  5. What is the cost of MSSA?
  6. Does Microsoft cover housing and any other living expenses?
  7. Can I use my GI Bill or BAH to cover additional expenses?
  8. Does MSSA offer cohorts in different time zones?
  9. Can I work and do the program?
  10. Are evening, self-guided/paced, or part-time cohorts offered?
  11. Will options for evening/part-time/self-paced training be available in the future?
  12. I am currently working in IT. Will MSSA provide supplemental training for my current job?

Program Eligibility

  1. Active-Duty Service Members
  2. Veteran and Retired Military
  3. Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserves
  4. Do Active-Duty Spouses, Veteran Spouses, Veteran Caregivers, and Military Dependents qualify for MSSA?
  5. Do my relatives qualify for MSSA if I am an Active-Duty service member, Veteran, Retiree, Coast Guard, National Guard, or Reserve member?
  6. Do current or past government employees qualify for MSSA?

Program Prerequisites by Military Status

  1. Active-Duty Service Members
  2. Veterans and Retired Military
  3. Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserves

Program Prerequisites for All Applicants

  1. What is the MTA?
  2. How do I know which MTA exam to take?
  3. Currently, I do not have an MTA certification and/or other certification(s). Can I still apply?
  4. Will MSSA be providing an MTA voucher?
  5. Will MSSA be providing a CompTIA voucher?
  6. How do I schedule my MTA exam?
  7. Do I have to take the MTA exam through a test center? Can I take the MTA exam online?
  8. What happens if I fail, miss, or need to reschedule my MTA exam? Can I get another voucher?
  9. Can I take the MTA exam before the application process starts?
  10. Where can I find MTA study resources? How long should I be studying/prepping for the MTA?

Technical Learning Paths

  1. What is CAD? What is SCA?
  2. What specific topics are covered in each learning path?
  3. What careers do these learning paths lead to?
  4. Which learning path should I choose?

Application Process

  1. How far in advance can I apply? When does the application window open?
  2. Can I be added to a future cohort queue to ensure I receive an application?
  3. Where do I submit my prerequisite documentation (e.g., Command Approval, MTA Certificate, etc.)?
  4. How long do I have to submit all my prerequisite documentation?
  5. What do I do once I have all my documentation submitted?
  6. What should I expect from the MSSA interview?
  7. Are interviews conducted virtually or in person?
  8. Can you guarantee my spot in a specific cohort (e.g., July 2021)?
  9. Do I need to submit another application if I miss the application window or the cohort I want is full?

General Program Information

Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) is an intensive 17-week technical training program providing transitioning service members and veterans with critical career skills for high-demand careers in cloud development or cloud administration.

  1. Is MSSA a full-time program?

Yes, MSSA is a full-time program facilitated between the hours of 0800-1700, Monday through Friday, over 17 weeks. At this time, MSSA has offerings facilitated in Pacific, Hawaiian, or Central Standard Time. Applicants must be able to commit to the instructional time zone for the cohort duration. At this 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.

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  1. Is MSSA a DoD-approved SkillBridge program?

Yes, MSSA is a DoD-approved 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 here.

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  1. 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 and 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:

Hiring Our Heroes Fellowships | LEAP Apprenticeships

Student Veteran Recruiting – aka.ms/studentveterancareers, aka.ms/clearedapplications

Industry Professional Recruiting – aka.ms/professionals

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

MSSA is an entry-level technical training program. Previous technical education or professional experience is neither required nor preferred for admissions consideration.

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  1. What is the cost of MSSA?

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

For those accepted into the program, eBooks for the topics covered are provided at 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.

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  1. 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.

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  1. 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.

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  1. Does MSSA offer cohorts in different time zones?

At this time, MSSA has offerings facilitated in Pacific, Hawaiian, or Central Standard Time. Applicants must be able to commit to the instructional time zone for the cohort duration. MSSA offers multiple cohorts with different instructional time zones throughout the year. You may select and apply for the cohort in the time zone that works best for your schedule. Please note that not all time zones will be offered during all program start seasons.

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  1. Can I work and do the program?

MSSA is a full-time commitment. It is highly advised that the participant not work and participate in the program during the same facilitation hours (0800-1700, Monday through Friday, instructional time zone).

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

At this time, self-guided/self-paced, evening, 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.

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  1. Will options for evening/part-time/self-paced training be available in the future?

Microsoft is exploring more flexible training programs for the future. At this time, further information is not available. Please monitor the Military Affairs and MSSA website for future updates.

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

MSSA is not appropriate for supplemental on-the-job training. MSSA is a full-time commitment. It is highly advised that the participant not work and participate in the program during the same facilitation hours (0800-1700, Monday through Friday, instructional time zone). MSSA provides foundational IT training in Cloud Application Development or Server & Cloud Administration. 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 absence.

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Program Eligibility

The MSSA program is available to Active-Duty service members, Veterans, Retirees, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve members of the United States Armed Forces with an Honorable or General Under Honorable Conditions service standing or discharge status.

  1. Active-Duty Service Members

Active-Duty service members must be within 180 days of their end-of-service date to apply for MSSA. At this time, MSSA is unable to accept waivers or command approval to participant outside this 180-day restriction. Active-Duty service members must acquire Command Approval documentation listing specific cohort program dates to move forward in the MSSA application process.

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  1. Veteran and Retired Military

Veterans and Retired Military members qualify for MSSA with DD-214 documentation listing their Character of Service as “Honorable” or “General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions.”

Is there an age restriction or time out of the service limitation?

No, there is no age restriction or required amount of time an individual has been out of the service to qualify for MSSA.

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  1. Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves

Service members of the Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves qualify to apply for MSSA. The aforementioned service members will also need to acquire Command Approval documentation listing the specific cohort program dates to move forward in the MSSA Application process.

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  1. Do Active-Duty Spouses, Veteran Spouses, Veteran Caregivers and Military Dependents qualify for MSSA?

Currently, MSSA is available to Active-Duty service members, Veterans, Retirees, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve members only. Military Spouses, Caregivers and Dependents do not qualify to apply for MSSA at this time.

When will there be a version of the program offered to Military Spouses, Caregivers and/or Dependents?

Microsoft will continue to look for and evaluate additional programs to support the greater military community in the future.

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  1. Do my relatives qualify for MSSA if I am an Active-Duty service member, Veteran, Retiree, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserve member?

Currently, MSSA is available to Active-Duty service members, Veterans, Retirees, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve members only.

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  1. 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.

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Program Prerequisites by Military Status

The MSSA program has the following prerequisites based on current military status.

  1. Active-Duty Service Members

Active-Duty service members must be within 180 days of their end-of-service date to apply for MSSA. At this time, MSSA is unable to accept waivers or Command Approval to candidates outside this 180-day restriction.

Active-Duty service members must provide Command Approval documentation listing specific cohort program dates.

Active-Duty service members must also provide their Career Skills Program (CSP)/SkillBridge Coordinator’s or Education Center Coordinator’s contact information.

What does my branch require?

Army: Must contact a Career Skills Program (CSP) Installation Administrator prior to enrollment to obtain package for routing.

Air Force: Must contact their local education (EDU) office and/or the virtual EDU office (per the DoD website) to obtain package for routing.

Marines Corps: Should reference FAQ document now available on the DoD SkillBridge website for action items. May contact a SkillBridge point of contact affiliated with their Transition Assistance Program (TAP) office, but only at select locations.

Navy: May contact companies/programs directly, and then route a special request           chit to participate through their command without ever contacting Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) Transition Assistance Program (TAP), Education (EDU) or any other base entity. Sailors may contact their local FFSC TAP office for additional transition support but are not required to do so prior to program/employer engagement and/or submitting a command request to participate.

How do I find my coordinator?

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

I am filling out the Command Approval and need an MSSA Point of Contact (POC) name/number. Who should I add as a POC?

The following information can be used as the MSSA POC on Command Approval forms:

Company Name: Microsoft
Address: One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington, 98052
POC: Eric zu Hone
Email Address: MSSAops@microsoft.com

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  1. Veterans and Retired Military

Veterans and Retired Military members must provide DD-214 documentation with a visible Character of Service subject field listed as “Honorable” or “General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions.”

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  1. Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves

Service members of the Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves must provide Command Approval documentation listing the specific cohort program dates.

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Program Prerequisite for All Applicants

A Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification or approved alternative certification (see below) is a prerequisite for admission for all applicants. One MTA exam voucher may be provided to eligible applicants.

  1. What is the MTA?

The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification is an entry-level credential that validates fundamental technology skills and knowledge among students and job seekers pursuing a career in technology.

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  1. How do I know which MTA exam to take?

Each MSSA technical learning path requires a specific MTA or certification. Below are the approved corresponding certifications:

Cloud Application Development (CAD): MTA 98-361 – Software Development Fundamentals

Server & Cloud Administration (SCA): MTA 98-366 – Network Fundamentals or an active CompTIA Net+ or CompTIA Sec+ certification

Will you accept a CompTIA A+, CISSP or any other certification or degree?

To keep equity among our candidates, each candidate must take the corresponding MTA to their desired learning path or have one of the certifications on the approved list above in correspondence with their desired technical learning path.

The MTA indicates it is retiring as a certification exam. Do I still have to take it?

Yes. The MTA is still relevant for all currently enrolling MSSA program starts. Information on a replacement prerequisite exam or certification will be made available by the MSSA program team when its use becomes official.

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  1. Currently, I do not have an MTA certification and/or other certification(s). Can I still apply?

Yes. MSSA can provide study guides (with resources) to help you study for your MTA exam. Please email MSSAops@microsoft.com to request the study guides.

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  1. Will MSSA be providing an MTA voucher?

Yes. One MTA exam voucher may be provided to eligible applicants. The MTA voucher will be distributed during the application process. You will be in contact with an Application Manager once you have submitted an Application Form, and they will walk you through the process of voucher release. MSSA does not issue vouchers outside the application process.

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  1. Will MSSA be providing a CompTIA voucher?

No. Candidates who chose to obtain the CompTIA certification instead of the corresponding            MTA certification will have to pay for the CompTIA’s exam cost out of pocket.

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  1. How do I schedule my MTA exam?

Your Application Manager will be able to provide exam scheduling instructions along with your MTA voucher.

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  1. Do I have to take the MTA exam through a test center? Can I take the MTA exam online?

Candidates are responsible to schedule their own exam time and location. Some exam sites may offer both on-site and online testing. You will have to check with the specific site when you are ready to schedule your exam.

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  1. What happens if I fail, miss, or need to reschedule my MTA exam? Can I get another voucher?

The MTA voucher is limited to one (1) per person. Individuals who either fail to show up for their scheduled exam appointment or cancel or reschedule their exam appointment seventy-two (72) hours or less before the scheduled time may forfeit their voucher code and be unable to use it again. Expired, lost, or stolen exam vouchers will not be replaced.

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  1. Can I take the MTA exam before the application process starts?

Yes, candidates may choose to take the MTA exam in advance of applying for MSSA. Please note that all costs associated with the early exam option are out of pocket and will not be reimbursed.

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  1. Where can I find MTA study resources? How long should I be studying/prepping for the MTA?

Study resources can be provided for your desired learning path by MSSA via email requests to MSSAops@microsoft.com. Everyone’s individual learning pace and style is different. There is no set study timeframe that works for everyone. On average, plan for 30-50 hours of preparation to successfully pass the exam. Actual hours depend on your current knowledge with the technology and your personal pace to learn and retain new material. Begin studying as soon as possible and learn the material to best of your own abilities. Please note: The resources on these documents alone do not guarantee an MTA passing, and it is highly recommended that you find additional study aids that work best for your learning style.

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Technical Learning Paths

The MSSA program offers specialization in two technical learning paths.

  1. What is CAD? What is SCA?

CAD stands for Cloud Application Development. SCA stands for Server & Cloud Administration. Information on the MSSA technical learning paths can be found here.

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  1. What specific topics are covered in each learning path?

Included below are the general syllabi for the offered learning paths.

Cloud Application Development (CAD)

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

Server & Cloud Administration (SCA)

  • PowerShell Scripting
  • Networking
  • Identity and Active Directory
  • Windows Server 2016/2019 administration
  • Azure Administration

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  1. What careers do these 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 the Microsoft Careers page to learn about various professions available to job seekers in tech. https://careers.microsoft.com/professionals/us/en

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  1. 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 between CAD or SCA. Some aspects to consider are personal interests, job availability, experience required, location, salary, promotion potential, and job flexibility.

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Application Process

The MSSA Admissions process may continue to evolve. If you are gathering information but not immediately applying, please revisit this FAQ when closer to applying to ensure information has not changed.

  1. How far in advance can I apply? When does the application window open?

Application windows for program offerings (e.g., October 2021, January 2022) open approximately four (4) months before the cohort start date. The application window for each specific program start season remains open for two (2) weeks only. At this time, the MSSA program team is unable to make exceptions for submissions received outside the two-week window. Please monitor updates via the MSSA website about your relevant window and plan accordingly.

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  1. Can I be added to a future cohort queue to ensure I receive an application?

The MSSA program team will no longer be collecting interest queues for all program offerings scheduled for calendar year 2022 and beyond. All applicants will be able to access information about application windows as well as the link to the MSSA Application Form via our website at https://military.microsoft.com/programs/microsoft-software-systems-academy/.

If application window information and dates are not yet posted for your desired program start, please check back soon. Application windows open approximately four (4) months before the cohort start date.

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  1. Where do I submit my prerequisite documentation (e.g., Command Approval, MTA Certificate, etc.)?

Once you have applied and it has been determined that you meet the initial qualifications, a secure file share invitation will be emailed to you for documentation upload.

Please do not send sensitive documentation via email to MSSAops@microsoft.com 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.

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  1. How long do I have to submit all my prerequisite documentation?

The documentation receipt deadline is seven (7) weeks before the cohort start date. This deadline is when all documents, including but not limited to, Command Approval (if applicable), DD-214 (if applicable), MTA certificate or other approved certification, and any other required documents must be submitted by to move forward in the application process.

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

Once the documentation deadline is reached, applicants who qualify to move forward in the
application process will be contacted via email for interview scheduling.

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  1. What should I expect from the MSSA interview?

The interview is an opportunity for MSSA team members to get to know you. It is not a technical interview, so you don’t 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 as well.

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  1. Are interviews conducted virtually or in person?

Interviews will be conducted virtually, which allows for more flexibility in scheduling.

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  1. Can you guarantee my spot in a specific cohort (e.g., July 2021)?

MSSA enrollment is not guaranteed until you have completed the program’s prerequisites, submitted supporting documentation, completed the interview process, and have received official communication about your acceptance. In addition, you will be asked to confirm, via email, acceptance of your seat in the specific upcoming cohort.

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  1. Do I need to submit another application if I miss the application window or the cohort I want is full?

Yes, candidates will need to submit a new Application Form and documentation for the next program start season if they miss the application window, did not submit the prerequisite documentation in time, or otherwise missed the opportunity to be accepted or participate in their desired cohort.

Applicants are not rolled over to the next application window automatically or given priority
consideration—such as a waitlist. At this time, each program start season represents a unique application process.

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