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This question is in reference to the IEEE's CSDA and CSDP certifications.

I've already taken the CSDA course, which covered all of the knowledge areas in the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK).

I'm thinking about doing the CSDP certification as well, but I can't find anywhere that tells me how it differs from the CSDA. I know that it's aimed more at professionals rather than recent graduates, and I'd imagine that it covers the same areas as the CSDA, but in greater detail. Unfortunately I can't find much evidence to back that up.

This is making it difficult to justify to my boss that he should spend several hundred pounds of the group's training budget on it.

So the question is: What does the CSDP offer that the CSDA doesn't?

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1 Answer 1

You're correct in your statement that the CSDP is aimed more at professionals. The requirements to sit for the CSDP are one of a Bachelor's degree, completion of the CSDA exam, post-baccalaureate teaching experience, or IEEE membership and one of an advanced degree in software engineering with 2 years of experience or four years of experience.

You can also through the recommended references for the CSDP and compare them to the recommended references for the CSDA), along with some sample test questions from the CSDP and compare them to some sample test questions from the CSDA.

There are also two bulletins from 2011 that provide a breakdown of topics on each exam: the CSDA and CSDP - it includes the amount of the exam devoted to each high level topic and the competency level (introductory "I" or competency "C") for the various subtopics. I don't suspect that much has changed between then and now, other than some refinements. I suspect the next major refresh may come after SWEBOK v3 is published.

All of the weights and competencies are (CSDA / CSDP).

  • Software Requirements (7% / 11%)
    • Software Requirements Fundamentals (I / C)
    • Requirements Process (I / C)
    • Requirements Elicitation (I / C)
    • Requirements Analysis (C / C)
    • Requirements Specification (I / C)
    • Requirements Validation (C / C)
    • Practical Considerations (I / C)
  • Software Design (8% / 11%)
    • Software Design Fundamentals (C / C)
    • Key Issues in Software Design (C / C)
    • Software Structure and Architecture (C / C)
    • Human Computer Interface Design (C / C)
    • Software Design Quality Analysis and Evaluation (C / C)
    • Software Design Notations (C / C)
    • Software Design Strategies and Methods (C / C)
  • Software Construction (10% / 9%)
    • Software Construction Fundamentals (C / C)
    • Managing Construction (C / C)
    • Practical Considerations (C / C)
    • Construction Tools (C / C)
    • Construction Technologies (C / C(
    • Product Documentation (C / C)
    • Formal Construction Methods (C / I)
  • Software Testing (7% / 11%)
    • Software Testing Fundamentals (I / C)
    • Test Levels (C / C)
    • Test Techniques (C / C)
    • Human Computer User Interface Testing and Evaluation (C / C)
    • Test-Related Measures (C / C)
    • Test Process (C / C)
  • Software Maintenance (7% / 5%)
    • Software Maintenance Fundamentals (I / C)
    • Key Issues in Software Maintenance (I / C)
    • Maintenance Process (C / C)
    • Techniques for Maintenance (C / C)
  • Software Configuration Management (3% / 5%)
    • Management of the SCM Process (I / C)
    • Software Configuration Identification (I / C)
    • Software Configuration Control (I / C)
    • Software Configuration Status Accounting (I / I)
    • Software Configuration Auditing (I / I)
    • Software Release Management and Delivery (I / C)
    • Software Configuration Management Tools (I / I)
  • Software Engineering Management (3% / 8%)
    • Initiation and Scope Definition (I / I)
    • Software Project Planning (C / C)
    • Software Project Enactment (C / C)
    • Review and Evaluation (I / I)
    • Closure (I / I)
    • Software Engineering Measurement (I / I)
    • Software Management Tools (I / I)
  • Software Engineering Process (4% / 7%)
    • Process Implementation and Change (I / I)
    • Process Definition (C / C)
    • Process Assessment (I / I)
    • Measurement (I / I)
    • Software Process Tools (I / I)
  • Software Engineering Methods (5% / 4%)
    • Modeling (C / C)
    • Types of Models (C / C)
    • Analysis (C / C)
    • Development Methods (C / C)
  • Software Quality (6% / 7%)
    • Software Quality Fundamentals (I / C)
    • Software Quality Management Processes (C / C)
    • Software Quality Practical Considerations (C / C)
  • Software Engineering Professional Practice (7% / 5%)
    • Professionalism (C / C)
    • Codes of Ethics (C / C)
    • Group Dynamics / Psychology (C / C)
    • Communications Skills (C / C)
    • Intellectual Property, Confidentiality, Security (C / C)
  • Software Engineering Economics (3% / 5%)
    • Software Engineering Economy Fundamentals (C / C)
    • For-Profit Decision-Making (C / C)
    • Not-for-Profit Decision-Making (C / C)
    • Present Economy (C / C)
    • Estimation, Risk, and Uncertainty (C / C)
    • Multiple Attribute Decisions (C / C)
  • Computing Foundations (10% / 5%)
    • Programming Fundamentals (C / C)
    • Algorithms, Data Structures/Representation and Complexity (C / C)
    • Problem Solving Techniques (C / C)
    • Abstraction Use (C / C)
    • Computer Organization (C / C)
    • Basic Concept of a System (C / C)
    • Basic User Human Factors (C / C)
    • Basic Developer Human Factors (C / C)
    • Operating System Basics (C / C)
    • Database Basics and Data Management (C / C)
    • Network Communication Basics (C / C)
    • Distributed and Parallel Computing (C / C)
    • Concepts of Programming Languages (C / C)
    • Debugging Tools and Techniques (C / C)
    • Secure Coding (C / C)
  • Mathematical Foundations (10% / 3%)
    • Functions, Relations, and Sets (C / C)
    • Basic Logic (prepositional and predicate) (C / C)
    • Proof Techniques (C / C)
    • Basic Counting (C / C)
    • Graphs and Trees (C / C)
    • Discrete Probability (C / C)
    • Finite State Machines (C / C)
    • Grammars (C / C)
    • Numerical Precision, Accuracy, and Errors (C / C)
    • Number Theory (C / C)
    • Algebraic Structures (C / C)
  • Engineering Foundations (10% / 4%)
    • Empirical Methods and Experimental Techniques (C / C)
    • Statistical Analysis (C / C)
    • Measurement (I / C)
    • Systems Development (I / C)
    • Engineering Design (C / C)
    • Theory of Measurement (C / C)
    • Simulation, Modeling and Conceptual Prototyping (C / C)
    • Goal-Question-Metric Paradigm (I / C)
    • Standards (identify, evaluate, select and adapt) (I / C)
    • Tool and Platform Selection (I / C)
    • Root Cause Analysis (C / C)
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Just to clarify what the (X / Y) bits mean: each area is covered by both the CSDA and CSDP, each at either an introductory level or a "competency" level. The brackets state to what level each area is covered by the CSDA and CSDP respectively - is that correct? And if that's the case, does that imply that (for example) the Mathematical Foundations covered by the CSDP is exactly the same as that covered by the CSDA? But its weight drops from 10% to 4% as other areas are covered in extra detail? Although having the Design area's weight increase when it was all 'C' to begin with seems odd... –  Philip C Jul 3 '13 at 14:09
    
@PhilipC That's correct. For example, Engineering Foundations is 10% of the CSDA, but only 4% of the CSDP. Further, Systems Development is only covered at an Introductory level in the CSDA but at a Competency level in the CSDP. –  Thomas Owens Jul 3 '13 at 14:10
    
@PhilipC Although perhaps "content weight" isn't the best choice of words. It's the percentage of the exam. That means 10% of the CSDA is devoted to questions from Engineering Foundations, but only 4% of the questions on the CSDP are in that area. The questions are randomly generated and the competency level determines how much knowledge in the area is required to answer the questions. –  Thomas Owens Jul 3 '13 at 14:15

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