A.S./B.S. in Technical Management Specialization Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA)

MSSA Frequently Asked Questions

Qualifications and Admissions

The MSSA is limited to active service personnel who are transitioning out of the military within six months.  It is also open to recently honorably discharged veterans.  Service members should first contact their Employment Skills Training Program or Transition Office for the necessary forms and approval.  The program is not open to civilian students. Additional qualification information can be found on Microsoft’s MSSA page.

No, anyone with an interest in IT can succeed in this program if they put forth the effort.


  • Active-duty military applicants must have an official separation date no later than 90 days after the end of the cohort and be anticipating an honorable discharge. Terminal leave may be applied toward this 90-day window. Active-duty students must seek command sponsorship to be reassigned to the MSSA program. See your Transition Support Office (TSO) and/or Education Service Officers (ESO) for more information. 
  • Veterans with an honorable discharge can also apply. 
  • All applicants must also demonstrate technical competency for their chosen specialization, by means of earning either the applicable Microsoft Technology Associates (MTA) or Computer Technology Industry Association (COMPTIA) Certifications. These are earned by passing their Certification tests. Each specialization has its own specific entry certification needs.

See Program Eligibility Requirements for more details or contact your local ERAU campus.

Contact your advisor to help you learn more about the MSSA program and see if you meet the eligibility requirements. If you qualify to apply for the program, you may be required to submit a change of program request and sign an MSSA - FERPA Information Release Form.

If a cohort is full, you may be asked to wait until the next cohort start date, two terms later. Active-duty military students have first priority. Veterans will be admitted 60 days prior to the start of a cohort.

Embry-Riddle offers a “courses only” version of the MSSA called the Applied Information Technology program (AIT). It is open to all qualified applicants of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — Worldwide. Students do not need to be transitioning service members, but may be veterans, spouses or civilians. To learn more information about the AIT, visit the Applied Information Technology page.

About the MSSA

Students accepted into the program are released from their active duty assignment for 18 weeks (two nine-week terms) of full-time, daytime coursework. During these 18 weeks, students will take five technical courses that will prepare you for the Certification Exams that apply to your Specialization. Veterans would similarly attend class full time in the classroom on base.

MSSA classes span two back-to-back nine-week terms, so it takes 18 weeks not including break between terms, or the time to apply, pass the entrance exams, and become enrolled, to complete the program.

A typical schedule might be: 0800 – 1645: Monday – Thursday
0800 – 1200: Software and Systems classes, labs, etc. (including breaks)
1200 – 1300: Lunch break
1300 – 1645: Microsoft Career and Professional Development Activities
Note: Some locations may require Friday classes. Please contact your local ERAU campus for more information.


    The MSSA program is a two-term, full-time program with considerable time commitment, and attendance is important. If you think that you may not be able to commit to regularly attending class, please consider a different program instead.

      By passing the required entrance exams, you’ll have earned either the Microsoft Technology Associates (MTA) or Computer Technology Industries (COMPTIA) certification that applies to your chosen Specialization.

      Each Specialization also provides students the opportunity to study and take various Certification Exams, either from Microsoft or (ISC)2. Each exam you pass is a certification in its own right. Depending upon which Specialization you complete, passing the right set of exams could earn you a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) or Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) credential.

      MSSA classes are taught in an in-classroom setting, with computers provided for in-class use. Students may find it beneficial to have access to a computer (for instance, at a local library or Internet café) to be able to access virtual labs or other course assets when not in class.

      These 18 credit-hour undergraduate Certificates of Completion provide you an alternative to being admitted as a degree-seeking student. You’ll have the same cohort experience, take the same classes, as your cohort-mates who are enrolled in ASTM-MSSA or BSTM-MSSA. You’ll earn the same Letter of Recognition from ERAU and Microsoft upon completion.  Upon successful completion of all technical courses and one Math course (MATH 106 or higher), you’ll also earn ERAU’s Certificate of Completion attesting to your accomplishment of the 18 undergraduate credit hours.

      These certificates are being implemented now; check with your Academic Advisor or the Campus Operations staff at your chosen MSSA cohort location to see when this option will be available for you.

      Career and Salary Prospects

      The combination of Microsoft professional certification and an Embry-Riddle degree is a clear pathway to career success. Microsoft’s own hiring data indicates that earning a relevant MCSE can result in 10%, 15% or even 25% increases in salary for IT professionals. IT professionals with other industry-leading credentials see similar career-enhancing benefits. A recent study noted Embry-Riddle among the top universities in the nation where tuition dollars translate into substantial financial rewards in the workplace. Combining an Embry-Riddle degree with Microsoft certification can provide a significant boost to anyone’s career.
      Primary benefits include:

      1. This is a Microsoft-sponsored program. Upon successful completion of the MSSA, participants gain an interview for full-time employment at Microsoft or one of its participating hiring partners.
      2. Additionally, Microsoft will work with you to develop job search skills — hands-on assistance with resume writing and interviewing, along with counsel on how to work in the civilian world.
      3. The MSSA is part of the Technical Management degree program, one of the most highly sought-after degrees Embry-Riddle Worldwide offers. The Associate or Bachelor of Science in Technical Management is a highly flexible degree that prepares you for long-term success in the IT world.
      4. Finally, this is an Embry-Riddle program. Embry-Riddle is internationally known for quality academics programs and graduate success. An Embry-Riddle degree is widely recognized and respected.

      Tuition and Financial Aid

      ERAU charges a $50.00 admission fee. Published undergraduate ERAU tuition rates apply. Students must also purchase required materials, including lab and exam vouchers, for each course.
      Tuition is Embry-Riddle Worldwide’s standard tuition rate. Instructional and testing materials are an additional cost.

      The MTA Exam

      The MTA exam is a benchmark of your current knowledge about basic IT concepts and terminology and provides an entry-level industry-recognized credential that attests to your having acquired fundamental knowledge and skills in its topic area.

      Microsoft has donated one exam voucher per MSSA applicant. You will receive your voucher once you have submitted your application to ERAU. The voucher entitles you to take one free exam. If you do not pass the exam on your first attempt and wish to proceed with your application to the MSSA program, you will have to purchase another voucher from a commercial testing provider. ERAU is not able to provide you with a second free voucher.

      The Computer Technology Industry Association (COMPTIA) established these two certification examinations to provide industry-recognized benchmark measures of an IT professional’s foundational knowledge in either networking technologies, or systems security concepts and technologies. Many military and government organizations require IT personnel to attend training courses and earn one of these credentials as part of government service – if you’ve earned one of these while on active duty or since then, you can use it to meet the entrance requirements for Cybersecurity Administrator without taking another exam.

      Many resources are available (free and at cost) on the Web to help you prepare for either exam; in addition, many training companies and schools provide specialized courses to help you prepare for either exam.

      The MSSA program does not provide a free exam voucher for the COMPTIA exams. Check with COMPTIA, or with PearsonVue, for costs and testing programs.

      Allow at least one month to prepare for the exam. Check out these free Microsoft Virtual Academy courses that expand your fundamental knowledge of key technology areas and helps prepare you to gain the required MTA certificationEach MSSA specialization has a specific MTA certification as a requirement for entry.

      • Server & Cloud Administrator:  Take Exam 98-366; prepare by taking Networking Fundamentals Training to find out how to put the many pieces together to build a functional and secure network. Further preparation and test-taking information can be found here.
      • Cybersecurity Administrator: You can meet the entrance requirements for this program with the Computer Security Concepts. And, you can choose between Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exams or COMPTIA exams:

      • Cloud App Developer: Take Exam 98-361; prepare by taking Software Development Fundamentals Training to learn about developing lightweight, portable applications (or “apps”) in C#. Further preparation and test-taking information can be found here.

      The the MTA and COMPTIA exams are handled by PearsonVue testing services with many testing locations at or near most US military installations. The exam is computer-based, and can also be taken in an online proctored mode using your own home computer. Please note that home online proctoring has very specific requirements. Contact your local ERAU campus for more information.

      View the catalog listings for the Associate in Science or Bachelor of Science in Technical Management with Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) specialization.

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      Apply for the MSSA

      Step 1 — Determine Eligibility

      Contact your installation Employment/Career Skills Office or Transition Program to determine eligibility.

      If you’re not eligible — or if you’re not located at an MSSA location – consider our Applied Information Technologies Specializations instead — same great courses offered via Online and EagleVision Home!

      Step 2 — Contact Embry-Riddle
      Inquire with your local Embry-Riddle Worldwide campus to learn program and financial details.

      Or, contact our Enrollment Operations Center at 800-522-6787, or email to for assistance.

      Step 3 — Apply for Admission
      Local Embry-Riddle Worldwide campus staff can guide you through the application process.

      Step 4 — Pass the MTA Exam
      Take and successfully pass the appropriate Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exam using the voucher provided.

      Step 5 — Complete Admission and Registration Requirements
      Complete the math and English skills assessment exams (required for enrolling) and schedule a meeting with your Embry-Riddle academic advisor to plan your courses.