Microsoft Certified Professional

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This article is about the certification. For other uses, see MCSE (tool).

Microsoft Certifications are information technology professional certifications for Microsoft products. Individual certifications are received upon passing one or more exams.

Like Apple, Cisco, Oracle, Red Hat, and Ubuntu programs, the certifications mainly focus on their product, as opposed to employment aptitude tests designed for programmer trainee jobs. The certifications are categorized by function as Server, Desktop, Database, and Developer. There are three major tiers with the MC (Microsoft Certified) prefix, which are: Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD).[1]

Exams usually take between two and three hours to complete and consist of between 40 and 90 multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and solution-building questions; and simulated content with respect to which students must perform certain common administrative tasks.[2]

Current certifications[edit]

Microsoft Certification Diagram

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification is the foundation for higher certifications and prerequisite for the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE). This new certification replaces the older Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS).[3] Despite its name, the MCSA Certification for Windows Server 2008 is "based on Windows Server 2008 R2 technology".[4]

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification comes after the MCSA. This level of certification requires recertification every three years. MCSEs will gradually replace the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP).[5]


  • Server infrastructure
  • Desktop infrastructure
  • Private cloud
  • Messaging
  • Communication
  • SharePoint


  • Data platform
  • Business intelligence

Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certification is for developers and requires recertification every two years. To fulfill the requirements of the certification, an individual has to pass a total of up to four examinations, depending on the chosen track.[6]


  • Windows Store
  • Web Applications
  • SharePoint Applications
  • Application Lifecycle Management

Microsoft Specialist (MS)[edit]

The Microsoft Specialist certification validate your knowledge and skills in a specialized area of technology. Some Microsoft Specialist exams are included as requirements for Microsoft Partner Network competencies, which help distinguish your company from the rest in a particular technical discipline. [7]

Retired certifications[edit]

As new associate and expert-level certifications are released for each technology, old certifications corresponding to that technology are retired. Certifications to be retired include Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE), Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD). Below are retired and soon-to-be retired certifications:

Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified Architect certification is the pinnacle of Microsoft certification. Eligibility into the program first requires a MCM certification in a relevant product. Candidates must then be reviewed and approved by Microsoft to be entered into the program.[8] Accepted candidates must prepare a work history dossier, architectural solution case study, and a document that demonstrates the relevance of their skills and work experience. Following that, candidates must attend a four-hour Review Board interview, which consists of at least two MCAs. The candidate must make a 30-minute presentation to the board, and then be able to successfully defend the quality and viability of the case study against questions from the board.

MCA certifications are available for:

The Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA), certification was retired on October 1, 2013.[9]

Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA)[edit]

The new Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) credential focuses on the ability to design and build technology solutions. The previous Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator certifications focused on a specific job role. [10]

Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer was Microsoft's former flagship certification requiring seven[citation needed] exams consisting of four[citation needed] core, one[citation needed] design, and an[citation needed] elective. A previous certification path under Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003.

Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified IT Professional credential helps validate that an individual has the comprehensive set of skills necessary to perform a particular job role, such as database administrator or enterprise messaging administrator.[11] To obtain a MCITP certification, you must first obtain one or more prerequisite MCTS certifications, and then pass the qualifying "PRO" exam(s). Most MCITP certifications were retired by July 31, 2014.

MCITP certifications are available for:

  • Windows Client
  • Windows Server
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Office Project Server
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft Lync
  • Microsoft Office 365 Cloud Services (deploying and/or administering Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, Shared Services, local Office Pro Plus installations)

Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified Master (MCM), Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM), and Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) exams were retired on January 1, 2014.[9]


  • Messaging
  • Communication
  • SharePoint
  • Directory Services


  • Data Platform

MCTS certifications are available for:

  • Exchange Server
  • Lync Server
  • Project and Project Server
  • SharePoint and SharePoint Server
  • SQL Server
  • System Center
  • Virtualization
  • Visual Studio
  • Windows Client
  • Windows Embedded
  • Windows
  • Other technologies

Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified Professional Developer certifications are gradually being retired, with MCSD as its successor.[12]

MCPD exists for the following:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2013
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008
  • Windows Phone
  • Microsoft SharePoint 2010
  • Microsoft Silverlight 4
  • Upgrade Paths

Microsoft Certified Master (MCM)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified Master certification enables senior-level IT professionals to demonstrate and validate their technical expertise on Microsoft server products. It is a prerequisite for the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA). Eligibility into the program first requires successful completion of specific and related MCITP certifications. The MCSM will gradually replace all MCMs.[13]

MCM certifications are available for:

The Microsoft Certified Master (MCM), certification was retired on October 1, 2013.[9]

Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)[edit]

The Microsoft Certified Database Administrator certification program credential is meant for database administrators, who will implement and administer Microsoft SQL Server databases. The MCITP and then MCSE in the Database category superseded this certification.

Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)[edit]

The MCT program is made up of approximately 20,000 Certified Trainers around the world. This community provides training on Microsoft products and services. MCTs are Microsoft’s community of technical and instructional experts and are the only community specifically endorsed to deliver training using Microsoft Official Courseware.

A Microsoft Learning Partner (LP) must employ or contract with a MCT to deliver Microsoft Official Courseware (MOC) courses they offer, whether to private closed groups or public classes. A Learning Partner may purchase MOC materials, and while they may sell these on to an independent MCT (if they choose to) for them to run a private class (for participants from a single organization), a MCT may not run public classes using MOC materials other than for a Learning Partner.

During the Windows 2000 era, the requirement to pass the examinations associated with a class was relaxed. This meant that a MCT with MCSE could teach programming classes and a MCDBA could teach engineering courses. For the XP/Server 2003 era, even the requirements of premier certifications like MCSE, MCDBA, MCSD, etc. were removed. CEC's and training requirements were removed in total. Only an annual fee was required to be paid to maintain a MCT. MCDST's could also be certified as a trainer. Today a MCT can be certified in only office applications and hold the trainer certification title.

With the 2007/2008 generation of certification programs, MCTS and MCITP, the trainers were tied to "competencies". Each Microsoft Official Course (MOC) requires one or more specialized certifications to be held in addition to MCT certification so that the delivery of title to be allowed under the program.[14] There were 54 different competencies as of March 2010 (with last update May 2009). For example, to deliver a Course 50213A (related to Data Protection Manager 2007), the instructor requires the certification title MCTS: System Center Configuration Manager 2007 certification. In general a MCT is now required to hold a MCSE / MCITP level certification in a track and version (e.g., SharePoint 2010, Exchange 2010) to teach MOC courses in that subject at a LP. When a new product version comes out, a MCT has a grace period where they can teach the new subject based on their qualification in the previous version. This is to enable the teaching of new subjects. This period ends 90 days from the release date of the updated exams, during which time the MCT must pass the new requirements or continue to teach only the older version courses after this grace period elapses.

Quality control of MOC, LP companies and MCTs is monitored via student evaluations submitted to Metrics That Matter provided by Knowledge Advisors (an independent third-party company). The MCT program agreement includes a requirement of minimum average scores, without which a MCT may not renew their membership in the program.

Microsoft also publishes "Community Courseware" written by third-party authors in the Microsoft Learning Courseware Library. This is not MOC and does not bear Microsoft's branding nor have the same restrictions about who can deliver these courses or where. Some consider this to be a loophole which allows unqualified instructors to provide public classes. For example, a MCT certified in only Word 2003 can legally deliver an ISA Server 2006 class (Course 50002A) since that is not a Microsoft Official Course, or could even deliver a private class in Windows Server 2008 using MS Press books, but could not teach any MOC course to a public class organized themselves or via a Learning Partner. Of course, there is nothing stopping any expert teaching a class in their subject area using their own materials, books or any other training resources they have legally obtained. They do not need to be a MCT or work for a Learning Partner, unless they wish to deliver MOC courses, for which they must be qualified.

Third-party certifications[edit]

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)[edit]

The Microsoft Office Specialist, previously known as Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS) and Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS), is a certification program for demonstrating proficiency in the use of one or more applications in the Microsoft Office suite. As of 2013, administration of MOS examinations and global credential verification are managed by a third-party-provider Certiport Inc., a business of Pearson VUE.[15] Upon successful completion of MOS certification, membership is granted to the MOS Members section on the Microsoft Learning website. Here, credentialed users can access transcripts, get wallet & business cards, download official Microsoft certification logos, print and view digital certificates, or place an order for an official, print-certificate from Microsoft. Certificates are issued by Microsoft, bearing both the signature of the Chief Executive Officer as well as the Official Seal of Microsoft Certification. Certifications for Office 2013 were launched on February 28, 2013.[16][17]

There are currently three levels of MOS certification: Specialist, Specialist Expert, and Specialist Master. For Office 2013, Specialist-level certification is available for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, SharePoint, OneNote, and Office365. The Expert certification track is currently available only for Excel and Word, each of which requires passing two expert-level exams. Specialist-level examinations in Word and Excel are not a prerequisite for achieving Expert certification. In addition to passing each of the four Expert-level exams for Word and Excel, candidates seeking Master-level certification must also pass the specialist-level examination for PowerPoint, and choose from any one of the Specialist exams for Outlook, Access, SharePoint, or OneNote.[18]

Currently, the following exams are available for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS):

2007 2010 2013
Access 2007 Access 2010 Access 2013
Excel 2007

Excel 2007 Expert

Excel 2010

Excel 2010 Expert

Excel 2013

Excel 2013 Expert, p. 1

Excel 2013 Expert, p. 2

Outlook 2007 Outlook 2010 Outlook 2013
PowerPoint 2007 PowerPoint 2010 PowerPoint 2013
Word 2007

Word 2007 Expert

Word 2010

Word 2010 Expert

Word 2013

Word 2013 Expert, p. 1

Word 2013 Expert, p. 2

SharePoint 2010
OneNote 2010
Office 365

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)[edit]

See article: Microsoft Technology Associate


  1. ^ "Microsoft Learning: Certification Overview". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  2. ^ "Microsoft Learning: Certification Exams". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  3. ^ "Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  4. ^ "What is the difference between the MCSA: Windows Server 2008 certification and the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification?". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  5. ^ "Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  6. ^ "Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  7. ^ "Microsoft Specialsit(MS)". Microsoft Corporation. 
  8. ^ "Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  9. ^ a b c "Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  10. ^ "Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) The skills for your professional career". Microsoft. Retrieved 2014-11-10. 
  11. ^ "Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  12. ^ "Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  13. ^ "Microsoft Certified Masters (MCM)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  14. ^ Vanderburg, Eric (May 24, 2007). "Implementation to Instruction: Teaching on Horizon?". Certification Magazine. 
  15. ^ "The Microsoft Certification: Proving Your Knowledge". Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "Exam Details - Exam 77-420:Excel 2013". 
  17. ^ "Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  18. ^

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