Microsoft Certifications: How do I upgrade my MCAD or MCSD?

Sorry for the long time between posts but work just keeps getting in the way.  Along with moonlighting and University.  Oh well, moonlighting is pretty much over and my final has been written.  Woohoo, more free time.  Yeah right!

At any rate, to the question at hand.

When we made the switch over to the new generation of certifications, that left the MCAD and MCSD monikers sitting as older designations, or what we refer to as "Classic certifications".  These certifications also proved proficiency in earlier versions of developer technologies such as Visual C++ 6, VB 6 and .NET 1.0/1.1.

The new generation of certifications concentrate more on specific technologies and are getting more and more focused.  Where MCAD and MCSD required multiple exams to achieve the credential, the new generation require fewer exams.  They also allow hiring managers to more closely gauge your fit for their needs.

Because there is such a change in technologies, coupled with the new generation of certifications, we have provide only one upgrade path.  That is from MCAD or MCSD to MCTS or MCPD in .NET 2.0.  There will be NO direct upgrade path from MCAD or MCSD to .NET 3.5.

Initially, we had a path from MCAD to MCPD Web or MCPD Windows, but we found that the fail rate was rather high.  A part of that reason revolves around what I think, in that the MCAD is not qualified to be an MCPD yet.  We are restructuring the exam story and recommending a different upgrade path depending on whether you are an MCAD or and MCPD.  Although not mandatory, here is my recommendation for the most success.

If you are an MCAD already;

You can take the upgrade path to MCTS Web or Windows 2.0.  These exams will be released shortly and will be numbered 70-558 for upgrading MCAD skills to MCTS: .NET 2.0 Web Developer and 70-559 upgrading MCAD skills to MCTS: .NET 2.0 Windows applications.

It is recommended that you do not take the current exams 70-551 and 70-552 to upgrade from MCAD to MCPD based on the current failure rates.  Once again, we are not enforcing this, but recommending it. 

If you are not ready for MCPD yet, then taking the upgrade path to MCTS 2.0 is a good choice if want to remain current on 2.0.  Again, there is no direct upgrade path to 3.5 and the MCTS exams will require passing 70-536 for both 2.0 and 3.5, as well as the requisite MCTS exam.

If you are an MCSD already;

It is my intention to leave 70-551 and 70-552 in market for upgrading MCSD to MCPD.  The reason I want to to do this is simple.  I mentioned earlier that there is no direct upgrade path to 3.5 for MCAD or MCSD, but this path allows you an indirect upgrade.

So, I am sure this is likely still somewhat confusing and if so I apologize but to summarize:

Upgrading your MCSD to MCPD 2.0 is the quickest way to gain the MCPD credential.  It also allows you to take one upgrade exam, when available, to the MCPD 3.5.  Upgrading your MCAD to MCPD 2.0 will also afford you the same but again, I point out that is not recommended.


On a closing note, there will be an announcement next month surrounding the retirement of exams and certifications in the MCAD/MCSD space so if you don't currently have either of these, now is not a good time to start unless you don't plan on using .NET 2.0 or later.



Comments (58)

  1. Sorry for the long time between posts but work just keeps getting in the way.  Along with moonlighting

  2. Did you see this post at

  3. Rob says:

    Hi Gerry,

    So will there be an upgrade route from MCPD 2.0 to 3.5? If so, how many exams do you expect it to be?



  4. Hi Rob.

    You will have to wait for that post in this series.  🙂


  5. Luis says:

    Hello Gerry,

    Thanks for the nice post explaining upgrading from MCAD/MCSD.

    In my situation (MCAD), I am thinking about taking the new 70-558 and to get the "MCTS: .NET 2.0 Web Developer". However, I didn’t understand how it will work if I want to get additional MCTS certifications.

    If I got the "MCTS: .NET 2.0 Web Developer" (MCAD + 70-558), and my next step is to get "MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Distributed Applications", then do I sill need to pass on both 70-536 and 70-529, or only pass on 70-529? If I am still required to take 70-536, then I don’t see any advantage in taking the upgrade exam 70-558 and I rather start from the scratch.

    Thank you,


  6. Hi Luis.

    The upgrade exams are supposed to give you credit for 70-536, which means that you would only need to take 70-529.


  7. Luis says:

    Thanks for the quick response, Gerry.

    I am looking forward for the new upgrade exams.



  8. Ratnesh says:

    Hello Gerry,

    I have MCAD and I want to upgarde it to MCTS and MCPD . what should i do?



  9. Hi Ratnesh.

    The post that you responded to answers your question in great detail.


  10. Shaleen says:

    Do you know when will this 70-558 exams be released as I enquired at Thompson (Prometric) and they had no idea whatsoever. I was planning to give the 70-551 but after reading your article I think its sensible to wait and give the upgrade from MCAD to MCTS by giving 70-558. Please let me know if you any timescales.

  11. Satish says:


    In my case (MCAD) i want to upgrade to next high level certification (i dont know whether MCPD OR MCTS) which one is good keeping 3.5 in mind?

    Also, If I want to upgrade to MCPD by taking 70-547 exam how it will help if I want to upgrade it to 3.5?

    (My certification planner shows that by taking 70-547 i can become MCPD)

    Thanks in Advance


  12. Hi Shaleen.

    I was hoping to have it released already but a few issues arose around the exams in the meantime that needed to be clarified first.  It should be released in April.


  13. Hi Satish,

    As an MCAD, I recommend that you upgrade to the MCTS first.  We have had numberous failures on the MCAD to MCPD upgrade exams due to the difficulty.

    If you feel you are qualified by looking at the prep guide,,  then I say by all means take the upgrade to MCPD Web Developer 2.0.

    How will this help you for 3.5?  It means one upgrade exam to MCPD ASP.NET Developer 3.5 instead of 3 exams to get there from scratch.

    So basically, if you are an MCAD right now and don’t take 70-551 which is the upgrade to MCPD Web Developer, you will need to take 70-536, 70-528, and then 70-547.

    NOTE: 70-551 contains components from all three of these exams so you need to know the material for those.

    If you pass 70-551, then you path from MCAD to MCPD 3.5 is two exams.  The long way is 4 exams minimum, (70-536, 70-528, 70-547, MCDP 3.5 updgrade exam), or 5 exams maximum ( 70-536, 70-528, 70-547, 70-562, MCPD Web 3.5).

    Hopefully that doesn’t completely confuse you.


  14. Satish says:

    Thanks Gerry,

    That helped me a lot. I think 70-551 is right for me.

    I was trying to prepare for 70-300 which i failed before (upgrade to mcsd) and then take up MCTS. ( 🙂 total mess).

    I think this certificate planner (MCP Site) is totally confusing.



  15. ananthu says:

    Right now i have finished MCAD. I want to do upgrade. what should i do? Whether MCPD (70-551 Upgrade) is ok ? or shall i do MCTS?.

  16. Ananthu, that depends on where you want to go with your certification.

    You cannot upgrade to MCPD on .NET 3.5 from MCAD so you may want to look at upgrading to MCTS 3.5 if that is the platform you want to work on.

    If you are planning on continuing your certification on 2.0, then you can upgrade to the MCTS by taking exams 70-558 or 70-559.  These will be available shortly.

    You might also want to look at 70-551 or 70-552 for upgrade from MCAD to MCPD although it is no longer a recommended path for those who only hold MCAD.  We now recommend that only MCSDs upgrade to MCPD and that MCADs upgrade to MCTS.


  17. Satish says:

    Yesterday I clear 70-551 paper with score of 760 🙂

    feeling great!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Gert says:

    Can you upgrade from mcsd to mcpd web developer using exam 70-551?

  19. Hi Gert,

    The initial post for this thread, outlines all the upgrade possibilities for MCSD to MCPD Web developer.  70-551 is the upgrade exam you want to take.

    It will be available until March 2009.


  20. tvtran says:

    Hi Gerry,

    Personally I think Microsoft should reconsider the new exam and certification structure… It’s getting more and more confusing for us (exam takers) and we would have to spend too much time on understanding and planning our certifying paths so that it would give us the greatest reward in the least amount of time, money and studying effort (I consider obtaining Microsoft credentials a project for myself 🙂 … When I go on an interview, I consider my technical background, experience and certifications are the products that I would sell to recruiters or hiring managers (my potention customers;) therefore I would be impressed if they manage to know all about the structures that I (as the seller) have an issue understanding and memorizing … In the past, when analyzing the Certification requirements for a credential that I wanted to obtain, I knew exactly out of my head the name, 70-number and credits toward a certification for an exam in my plan; now I’m really getting lost in the forest of credentials, exams, and upgrading paths, etc…

    To be fair, if the original ultimate goal of redesigning the Microsoft exam and certification structure was to make it easier for recruiters/managers to recognize and have the best understanding of the candidates’ skill sets, I don’t think we (Microsoft, MCPs’ community and hiring company) have reached that goal by redesigning exam and certification structure… All the recruiters / managers need to do is asking the candidates to email or bring their MCP transcript to the interview and they’ll have the full picture of what the candidates have been through in their certification paths…

  21. Hi tvtran,

    I’m sorry that you find the certification paths confusing.  To be honest, there are a lot of choices and it’s not an easy topic to present in a simplified manner.

    Trying to balance increasing technology skill sets with certification paths is a challenge.  With the legacy certifications such as MCSD, hiring managers or anyone for that matter, had no idea what you were certified on.  The only way to know was to look at your transcript.

    With the new certifications, the technology is in the title which makes it far easier to see what the candidate is certified on.

    The web sites are undergoing some changes and we are working with marketing to better message the new generation of certifications to everyone involved.


  22. Norty says:

    Hi Gerry

    I have an MCSD (VB6, SQL2000).  Is there a direct upgrade path to MCPD in .NET 2?

  23. Hi Norty,

    Unfortunately, you can’t upgrade directly to and MCPD in .NET 2.0 from VB6.  The reason is due to the considerable change in technology and language features.

    You will need to upgrade to MCSD or MCAD on .NET 1.1 first.  The time is running out on the MCSD and MCAD as well.  They will expire in March of 2009 so if you are considering the upgrade, you should look at doing it sooner rather than later.


  24. Achintya says:


    I am an MCAD.

    I want to achieve MCPD: Enterprise Applications Developer 3.5. What are my options ?

    The webpages focussed on the technologies are so confused that I am trying hard to find out what exams I need to appear.



  25. Hi Achintya,

    You need to move to .NET 2.0 first.  There isn’t a direct upgrade path from MCAD to any certification on 3.5.

    My recommendation is to take exam 70-551 and 70-552 to upgrade yourself to MCPD .NET 2.0 on Windows and Web.   Take the Enterprise .NET 2.0 exam 70-549 and exam 70-529 MCTS Distributed exam.

    Once you have completed that, you can look at the upgrade path for MCDP 3.5.

    Sound like a lot of exams?  It is.

    You can start from scratch on 3.5 if you want.  That will require you take pass 6 exams as well.







    I hope that helps to clear it up a bit.  


  26. Jonathan says:

    Hello Gerry,

    Got a quick question. It’s kind of a follow up to Achintya uestion. I have a MCAD and I examined the possible path towards MCPD: ASP.NET Developer 3.5.

    The upgrade path (without 70-551) if i’m not mistaken requires 70-559, 70-547 and 70-567. The from scratch path is 70-564, 70-562 and 70-536. The number of exams are the same. But in terms of availability of prep material, effort, difficulty (considering my background), which one would be better? I also notice that the upgrade path contains 70-547 which is a subsection in 70-551 and also the section that most people had failed on.



  27. Hi Jonathan,

    The upgrade path requires one exam, 70-551 or 70-552 depending on Web or Windows.  Even though they cover content from three exams.

    This one exam will provide you with MCPD on 2.0.  Once you pass that, you can upgrade to 3.5 using the appropriate upgrade exam for your chosen technology of Web or Windows.  Enterprise will require more than one exam.


  28. Jonathan says:

    Hello Gerry,

    I know 70-551 covers the entire upgrade path. However, you mention in your post that it is not recommended to do 70-551 and instead we go with 70-559. So if our final objective is MCPD: ASP.NET Developer 3.5, that means 70-559, 70-547 and 70-567. Which is 3 exams compared to doing it from scratch with is also 3 exams 70-564, 70-562 and 70-536. So among these, which one is better cover in terms of study material, etc etc?

  29. Hi Johnathan,

    My comment on not recommending 551 is simply due to the high fail rate of MCADs taking that exam.  If properly prepared, you can certainly pass 551 and get the MCPD.

    As for prep materials, the MCTS materials for 3.5 are not all released yet.  If you are taking 551, you can use the MCDP materials for 2.0.  Those are in bundles from MS Press.

    If you will be taking the 3.5 path from scratch, you can use the same prep materials but will need to use the prep guide and MSDN to ensure you are prepared on the new technologies.


  30. Michel Bergeron says:

    First, thank you very much for all help you provide to community…

    I have a MCAD and will take  the exam 79-559 to upgrade to MCTS web. I am studying the Self Training books for 70-228 and 70-536 and the exams that the books provide. Is it enought to pass the upgrade exam ? I am not sure if this is enought if the focus on this exam is on the NEW things on 2.0 Theses books do not focus only on that… what do you think about this ? More reading ? Some suggests ?

    Thank you again !!!


  31. Hi Michel,

    You are welcome.  I try to keep the community up to date on what is taking place in the developer and SQL Server certification areas.

    To answer your question, 70-536 is one exam that you should be studying for to pass the 559 upgrade exam.  However, 70-228 is a SQL Server exam and will not prepare you for the upgrade exam.  You will need to get prep materials for exam 70-528 instead, which is the web developer exam for 2.0.

    Studying these two training kits will help prepare you for exam 70-559.


  32. Michel Bergeron says:

    Hi Gerry

    thank you for your answer. Sorry, my mistake…. I wanted to write 70-528, not 70-228…. :((

    My point was about the content of theses training kits versus the 70-559 exam. Theses kits do not focus only on new stuff of .Net 2.0. But does the exam do this (focusing questions on new stuff), I ask my self if theses kits are enought… Does I have to read more books ?

    Thank you again…


  33. Hi again Michel,

    Now, that makes more sense.  🙂

    The content on the 559 is exactly the same as on the two individual exams it covers.  The questions are taken from the same place.

    So, those training kits will help you study for that exam.


  34. Anthony Main says:


    Great post especially your responses to the comments. My self and friend both did our MCAD in c# a few years back for a previous employer. We now are actively coding 3.5 and from your posts I understand that I should do exam 70-551 (with the extra effort) as the first stage of the upgrade path.

    Can yon confirm that this exam expires in March 09?

    Also when looking for exam prep questions etc which alternative exams should we look into for material.


    P.S Its a shame there isn’t an active site which formally outlines the exam expiry periods etc on the MS Certification site.

  35. Hi Anthony, thank you.

    Exam 70-551 will not retire in March of 2009.  The exams that will retire are those that are required to achieve the MCAD or MCSD certifications.  We want you to upgrade so exams 70-551, 70-552, 70-558, and 70-559 will remain in market for those who hold MCAD or MCSD certifications to upgrade with.

    You can alwyas find out the latest exam retirement announcements here,  It is a shame that we don’t have that link off the main certification page so I will see about getting it added.

    The exams that make this particular upgrade exam are as follows;

    70-536 –

    70-528 –

    70-547 –

    Hope that helps you get prepared and best of luck in your upgrade path.


  36. I’m grateful for your patience in answering all these similar questions.  

    In my case, I have an MCAD in Visual Basic.NET and I’m thinking of going for the MCSD via the 70-305 and 70-300 exams before they retire at the end of March. Then I would need only one exam to upgrade to the new cert.  

    Have I got this straight or am I planning a waste of time?  

  37. Hi Elliot,

    If you currently have an MCAD certification, you can already upgrade to MCTS or MCPD for .NET 2.0.  Unless you "want" to achieve MCSD before the exams retire, you don’t need to.

    I will caution you that the upgrade to MCPD is not an easy path and the exam is difficult unless you have sufficient experience in .NET 2.0.

    70-551 or 70-552 will take you to the MCPD for 2.0 or you can earn the MCTS by taking either 70-558 or 70-559.  The only differences in the above exams would be you desire to do Windows Forms or Web development focus.

    If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.


  38. Martin says:

    Hi Gerry,

    I am currently an MCAD ASP.NET Web Developer and my final goal is to become a MCPD .NET 3.5 Web Developer.

    I can see one path to is take the 70-551 upgrade exam but has a high rate of failure.

    The other path, as I understand it, is to take the 70-559 Upgrade exam to MCTS, and then upgrade to MCPD Web Developer.


    So if I take the 70-559 exam to upgrade MCAD Skills to MCTS Web Applications, what exam(s) after this do I need to take to upgrade to MCPD Web Developer?



  39. Hi Martin,

    If you elect to take 559 to upgrade to MCTS, that will provide you with an MCTS for Web apps on 2.0.  Once you complete that exam, you will need to get to MCPD Web Developer on 2.0 first, and then upgrade to 3.5.  You can do so by taking the following exams.

    1) 70-547 MCPD Web on 2.0

    2) 70-567 MCPD ASP.NET on 3.5

    This is once you complete your 559 upgrade exam to MCTS.

    Hope that makes sense.


  40. Martin says:

    Hi Gerry,

    That makes perfect sense, thank you.


  41. Gerald Dunn says:

    Hi Gerry,

    You mentioned in a previous post that you can upgrade an MCSD on VB6, SQL2000 to an MCSD on .NET 1.1.

    What exam(s) are required for this upgrade?


    Gerald Dunn

  42. Hi Gerald,

    The window for upgrading VB6 to MCAD on .NET 1.1 has been closed for some time now.  There currently are no options for upgrading these older certifications.

    Your best choice is to look at starting your .NET certifications from scratch.  Note that the exams required to earn an MCSD or MCAD will retire in March of 2009 and you will no longer be able to acquire those certifications.

    I recommend you look at the .NET 3.5 track as a starting point into the new generation of MCTS and MCPD exams.


  43. i am also MCAD and how i can upgrade mcad to MCPD.

  44. Hi Rohit,

    Did you read the above post?  it clearly outlines the options available to you including links for where to go for more information.

    Please read the post and related comments first and if you still have questions, then provide me with more specific information as to which certification you are seeking.  MCPD is too generic as there are various versions available.


  45. Thurein says:

    Hi Gerry,

       Currently I’m holding MCSD .NET and willing to upgrade it to MCPD 3.5 (EAD). Since there is no direct upgrade path, should I take 70-553 and 70-554 to get MCPD 2.0 (EAD) credentials first and later upgrade again to MCPD 3.5 (EAD)? Roughly, when will those two exams (70-553 and 70-554) retire?

       Your reply would be much appreciated.



  46. Hi Thurein,

    Yes, you can use these two exams to upgrade to MCPD Enterprise 2.0, then upgrade to 3.5 as appropriate.

    553 and 554 will be around for a few more years yet.  We announce retirements one year prior to the actual retirement date.


  47. Nick says:

    what if you not either a MCAD or MCSD and want to get certified in Windows Application Development what would the right certification to go?

  48. karthikeyan Deivasenakanthan says:


    very usefull information

    and can you please tell when the Exam 70-547 will expire?

    Thank you!!!!!

  49. Hi Karthikeyan,

    I can’t give you an exact date or year as the exam will retire when Microsoft retires mainstream support for the technology.

    We will announce the retirement one year prior to its actual retirment date.


  50. Priya says:

    Hi Gerry!!!

    I am planning to give 70-528. This is the first time i am going for Microsoft certification. I am working on .net 2.0. Can u pls tell me that how many years this 70-528 certification will be valid? and to become MCTS   what other exams i have to give?? also what is the time period to expire any Microsoft certification??

    Please do reply. I need help.

  51. Hi Priya,

    Exam 70-528 will continue to exist as long as Microsoft continues to provide support for Visual Studio 2005 and version 2.0 of the .NET Framework.  This also applies to your certification.

    As for what other exams, you will also need to pass 70-536 before you can acquire an MCTS certification.


  52. Mark Cooper says:

    Hello Gerry

    First, congratulations for this great post.

    I have a couple of questions. I would like to know the path from MCAD to MCPD 3.5 (Web). I’m planning to take the 70-551 exam to get the 2.0 upgrade. But I’m not quite sure what would be next from there.

    My other question is related to the difference between MCPD and MCTS.

    Thanks in advance


  53. Thanks Mark,

    The answer to question 1 is that once you have acheived the MCPD on .NET 2.0, you can look here, for information on which exam to choose next based on your needs.

    As for the difference between MCPD and MCTS, the best way I can explain it is this;

    MCTS is the "how to" exam that test on your knowledge and skills of how to program using Web or Windows using .NET.

    MCPD is the "When would I use x, why would I use x over y, where would I use x?" concepts.  Think of a lead dev or team lead that needs to review a spec and decide what will be used to create the application.

    Hope that helps.


  54. rajdeep says:

    Thanks for sharing some valuable informations..I am  MCAD certified..So if I want to upgrade to MCPD without appearing for 70-551(Due to high failure rate),I need to appear for 70-558(will give me MCTS – Web) and then 70-547(for MCPD).Please confirm..Thanks again..

  55. Hi Rajdeep,

    That is correct.  You can take that path to achieve the MCPD.


  56. mitul4706 says:

    Hi Gerry,

    I am not an MCAD Certified Professional, but now I want to get certified. Can you please let me know, can I directly take Exam 70-559 as Upgrade to MCAD or I will need to give three exams (70-315, 70-320 & 70-229 ,which are already expired) as per requirement for MCAD ?

    Waiting for your reply.

    Thanking you.

    Warm regards,


  57. mitul,

    Your post says you are NOT and MCAD.  If you are not certified as an MCAD, then you cannot take the upgrade exam.  You cannot take any exam to acquire the MCAD at this time either because they have been retired.

    This simply means that you cannot acquire an MCAD certification anymore.  You will need to start with one of the MCTS certifications and then move to MCPD.


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