We offer online curricula for emerging professionals that support people with physical and mental disabilities. Covering a growing range of roles, from direct support to employment services, we connect workers to a standardized set of skills that celebrates their contribution to society.

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College of Direct Support

Improving lives and building careers.

About CDS

Over the course of the past 10 years, the College of Direct Support online curriculum has been built on the idea that everyone deserves the chance to lead a rich, rewarding life. While it’s not a traditional, degree-issuing institution, CDS has had a tremendous impact on the DSPs who have taken the coursework — and has enabled them to make a difference in the lives of the people they support.

Our mission:

  • Educate. Our nationally-based courses are built on proven best practices in direct support. The online, self-directed College of Direct Support coursework is far more effective, manageable and cost-efficient than traditional computer or classroom instruction. Best of all, they are always updated, keeping learners ahead of emerging trends.
  • Enrich. Courses from The College of Direct Support curriculum give direct support professionals a foundation on which to build confidence through competency, enabling them to feel a sense of purpose while gaining greater respect and status among peers, supervisors, the people they support and in their communities.
  • Inspire. Bolstered by a new world of opportunities, these emerging professionals will find a new sense of pride in their jobs — jobs they will keep longer, as they begin to view direct support as a fulfilling career.

Benefits of the College of Direct Support courses:

For Agency Administrators

Our content is created by the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living, a trusted leader in direct support workforce development and research. That means it’s built with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are proven to help your workforce provide effective support. The content is delivered by Elsevier’s groundbreaking learning management system, so you’ll always have an all inclusive record of who has completed the self-paced training — along with the results of any assessments, certifications, checklists, discussions, acknowledgements or surveys.

Unlike more costly, traditional training and learning systems, you can adapt the College of Direct Support content to fit your agency’s specific needs, thanks to the power of Elsevier Performance Manager.

For Training Managers and Supervisors

Unlike traditional learning programs, College of Direct Support coursework is self-paced. Your employees complete training whenever it’s convenient for them, which frees you from potential scheduling complications. As you know, a better trained workforce is one that’s more satisfied. That often means a lower turnover rate.

Our content is created by the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC/CL), so you can trust it’s packed with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will help your employees succeed. The collaboration between Elsevier and RTC/CL puts the power of the industry’s most advanced learning management system at your fingertips. You can track progress and performance, and create training plans that meet your specific learning objectives. The system also integrates records and assessments with your human resources system. These are critical ingredients in building, maintaining and training a stable workforce.

For Direct Support Professionals and Frontline Supervisors

You don’t want to spend hours in a classroom to learn your job — but you do deserve the chance to gain the skills and knowledge you need to succeed. That’s the power of the College of Direct Support courses.

Our coursework is based on established skill sets that will help you raise the level of support you provide — while giving you a clear path for career advancement.

For State Officials

It has never been more important to ensure that every member of your state’s direct support workforce — along with their supervisors — is properly trained and ready to deliver quality support.

We connect members of your workforce with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to provide the high level of support people with disabilities in your state deserve.

In addition, every direct support professional in your state will receive a permanent, verifiable record of their training — helping them to build a clear path to a rich, rewarding career. It’s an approach that increases job satisfaction and reduces turnover, which can ultimately ensure your state has a steady, stable direct support workforce.

For Supported Individuals and their Families

You deserve high quality and reliable support. You deserve a direct support professional who focuses on you — and treats you with respect. Self-direction, inclusion and respect are core tenets of the training direct support professionals receive through the College of Direct Support coursework. Learners are encouraged to focus on the unique expectations of each person supported. They develop skills in critical areas of health and safety, but also in listening and respecting the rights all individuals have to make decisions important to their lives.

By supporting quality training for Direct Support Professionals, you show you value them and expect the best for them and from them. This elevation of their job increases their desire to stay in their jobs. It also helps to craft communities in which all people are respected and included.