SUNY Canton to Begin Offering Direct Support Professional Microcredentials at No-Cost


SUNY Canton will soon launch fully-funded Direct Support Professional (DSP) microcredentials that will train and upskill a workforce dedicated to empowering those with developmental disabilities.

A grant from the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) will cover tuition, certification, fees, books, and support, as well as provide a $750 stipend, for students who complete any of SUNY Canton’s DSP microcredentials (6 credits each) and go on to earn a National Alliance for Direct Support Professional certification.

A woman trains a man with down syndrome how to use a checkout system.

All courses will be offered in an online format, with the first DSP-I cohort beginning May 29 and running until Aug. 14, 2024. An additional DSP-I, as well as a new DSP-II cohort, are scheduled to follow in fall 2024. Students will earn the tuition benefits and stipend for each completed microcredential.

This training is designed for direct support staff already working in the profession, as well as those new to the developmental disabilities field. SUNY Canton has partnered with Sunmount Developmental Center in Tupper Lake to help upskill their current workforce, and anticipates partnering with additional organizations.

Students who successfully complete these microcredentials will earn college credit applicable toward several degrees, including SUNY Canton’s bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology, bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management, and associate degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences: General Studies.

SUNY Canton joins other SUNY schools across the state to offer this training. An initial $5 million in funding was provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. The partnership between OPWDD and SUNY was announced in 2023 by Gov. Kathy Hochul, and an additional $32 million in state funding to expand the program was announced this month.

“New Yorkers with developmental disabilities deserve to have the right people with the right training supporting them so they can thrive in their day-to-day lives,” Gov. Hochul said. “This partnership will further strengthen and professionalize New York’s direct support workforce and is yet another example of the actions we are taking to offer career advancement and growth opportunities in this crucial field.”

The DSP microcredentials are the latest addition to SUNY Canton’s growing portfolio of microcredentials, which are fast and flexible learning options that are designed to be completed in a shorter timeframe than a traditional college degree.

“We are honored to partner with OPWDD and Sunmount to provide this important training that will better serve those in our community who require specialized support,” said SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran. “We hope that this program generates more interest in this rewarding, in-demand career field.”

For more information, visit the Center for Workforce, Community and Industry Partnerships website or contact Executive Director Elizabeth A. Brown at


The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) provides high-quality person-centered supports and services to people with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders and other neurological impairments. OPWDD provides services directly and through a network of over 600 not-for-profit providers. OPWDD’s mission is to help people with developmental disabilities live richer lives that include meaningful relationships, good health, personal growth, and a home within their community.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.