Download the CDA brochure (PDF format)

Photo of children playing while an adult supervises

The Child Development Associate (CDA) is a national credential for those in the early care and education field. Started in 1971, the CDA program was designed to enhance the quality of childcare by increasing and recognizing the competence of those who care for young children. A CDA may be earned for Preschool, Infant/Toddler, or Family Child Care.

The first step in earning a CDA credential is to complete 120 hours of training from an agency or institution with expertise in early childhood teacher preparation. In January 2007, Southwestern began to offer CDA classes for college credit. Students will take four online courses for a total of 13 credit hours.

Eligible students may apply for a TEACH scholarship for the CDA Classes. Students must take a minimum of nine credits within one calendar year. Students may contact the ECE/PAT office or T.E.A.C.H. for more information.

Required Classes

  • ECE 103 Intro to Early Childhood Education (online)
  • ECE 133 Child Health, Safety, and Nutrition (online)
  • ECE 243 Guidance and Interaction (online)
  • Choose ONE of the following:
    • ECE 221 Infant Toddler Care and ED (I/T or FCC CDA) (online)
    • ECE 158 Curriculum I (PS or FCC CDA) (online)
    • ECE 159 Curriculum II (PS or FCC CDA) (online)
  • ECE 106 Child Development Associate Standards (online)
  • CDA Completion Course (final class in series)
    • You must have completed at least three of the required CDA courses and have a minimum of a 2.0 in EACH class.
    • You may take your fourth course at the same time as this course! Or take all four BEFORE this course!

Total:  13 Credit Hours

Students may be required to take a Composition class before starting the ECE classes.

How to Apply for a T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship


T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Iowa
Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children
6200 Aurora Ave., Ste 605E
Urbandale, IA 50322
Phone: 515.331.8000, ext. 113
FAX: 515.331.8995
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How do I register as a student at SWCC?

Apply online as a Southwestern student.

How do I register for one of the required classes?

Call the SWCC admissions office at 641.782.1421 to make an appointment with an admissions counselor or to enroll in one or more of the required classes.

If you have questions about the online classes or if the online option is for you, call SWCC's distance education office, 641.782.1524.

Consider continuing at Southwestern for an associate of arts degree with an early childhood emphasis.

Recommended Program of Study Outline (PDF)