Online CDA Program

We offer both English and Spanish versions of our instructor-led, 6-month online training programs. Unlike the familiar digital alternatives, our program is competency-based and provides opportunities for participants to apply their learning meaningful to field-based, graded assignments. Participants also interact with one another through discussion forums and complete assessment quizzes to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, and ability to apply skills to practice scenarios.

Atlas Training is intentionally interactive and facilitated by an instructor so that students receive the support that they need to be successful in their learning.  Participants will be enrolled in a cohort with others in the endorsement area of their choice.  For instance, participants who desire to obtain the Infant/Toddler CDA will learn with others who are seeking to obtain the Infant/Toddler CDA.  There are cohorts for preschool and family childcare. endorsements as well.

Program Overview

Atlas Training offers a unique online training model. Where most online training programs focus on short-term content delivery, with immediate knowledge checks to gauge temporary knowledge retention, at Atlas Training we know that content knowledge is meaningless unless it is progressive, cumulative, and provides opportunities for meaningful application. At Atlas Training, we provide Competency-Based Education with experiences that support Learning Transfer.

    • Competency-Based Education refers to systems of instruction and assessment
      that are designed to ensure that students learn what they are expected to learn.  In many CDA Training Programs, students obtain training by attending workshops.  Yet, they are never required to put into practice all that they learn in the workshops.  This is due to something called ‘learning transfer’.
    • Learning Transfer means that training participants can successfully apply the knowledge and skills that they learn in training to their work with young children. For learning transfer to occur, students or training participants must make connections from what they learn in one workshop to the next. In Atlas Training, learning content builds from one module to the next. In addition, participants can practice using what they learn so that they can apply it immediately.
    • Experiential Learning Model: Atlas Training uses an experiential learning model to structure and design its assignments. This philosophical framework enables learners to develop skills through active participation and ongoing reflection of diverse experiences. Participants complete different types of assignments throughout the course of the program, including video assignments, discussion boards, lesson plans, room layout schematics, and others. 

One of the key features of Atlas Training for CDA is the degree of learner engagement. Participants interact with a course instructor and peers on the ‘discussion forum’ and they complete ‘assignments’ and ‘reflections’ to build competencies over time.  And, students can expect to receive feedback to support them in their development.

When the participant takes a final multiple-choice quiz at the end of each module, she/he/they has already come to understand the content of the training and how to apply it to practice. This is a unique feature of Atlas Training: Learning is designed to transfer to practice.

Program Structure

Atlas Training provides course designs that use principles of adult learning to ensure that students learn course content, practice content in field settings, demonstrate mastery through quantitative or qualitative assessments, and achieve all desired course outcomes.

Atlas Training uses an asynchronous online learning model, with assignments for each module due by the end of each month. Each module will take one month to complete, and only active or completed modules will be available to students.

The Atlas Training CDA Program is aligned to the CDA Competency Areas, with each CDA area addressed in respective modules. This cohesive, aligned structure ensures that program participants are able to meet the knowledge and skills requirements of the CDA credential upon completion of the program. The CDA Program Modules will follow the CDA Competency Areas, with one module for each of the following:


    • Module 1: Foundational Module, including an introduction to course policies, procedures, and expectations; an introduction to the Atlas Training learning objectives; and requirements for program completion
    • Module 2: Creating a Safe, Healthy Learning Environment
    • Module 3: Advancing Children’s Physical and Intellectual Development
    • Module 4: Advancing Children’s Social and Emotional Competence
    • Module 5: Families, Management, and Professionalism
    • Module 6: Creating a Professional Portfolio and Planning for Career Development


Student to Student Interaction: Atlas Training strongly values the benefits of social learning and provides students with opportunities to interact with peers. Each module includes specific assignments that require dialogue and discussions between students.

Instructor Interaction: Instructors serve as mentors and guides throughout the training program, providing ongoing feedback to students to support their understanding and application of program content to their work with children. Instructors are available to provide ongoing support to students prior to registration, throughout the cohort period, and for a three-month period following the completion of the program. (IACET 2.4, IACET 7.2)

Student Content Mastery and Reflection: Students will engage in numerous reading and field assignments to increase their knowledge, understanding, and application of course content. Students will reflect on course materials through a variety of assignments throughout the program.

CDA Completion Support

Portfolio Support: At the completion of the program, participants will be invited to submit digital copies of their portfolios to the cohort instructor for an informal review. Instructors will provide meaningful feedback on the portfolio

CDA Attainment: Course instructors will reach out to each cohort student to provide information about the next steps to schedule a CDA observation, take the CDA exam, and convert CEUs from the CDA and Atlas Training to college credits.

What You Will Need

As with any journey we take in life, being prepared with the right supplies and tools can make the difference between success and failure. It is important that you make sure you have the following items before you begin your CDA journey:


  • Practicum site (i.e. early childhood center, group home) in your desired aged group in which to complete field assignments. The site does not need to be NAEYC accredited (though accredited programs are preferable), but the site MUST be licensed by relevant local/state regulatory agencies. You will need to work directly with your employer or practicum site manager to complete any necessary background checks and medical evaluations. Any related fees will be your responsibility!


  • Have a working computer/laptop and reliable internet connection to access course materials. At a minimum, your computer should have a word processing program such as MS Word, and an internet browser. It is not possible to successfully complete this course using only a smartphone!


  • Purchase course textbook: Text information will be provided upon registration. The course textbook is required for the CDA program, as many of the course readings and assignments are closely linked to the text.

Signing up for our CDA Training is EASY!