Defense Acquisition University (DAU)

Updated: November 27, 2020
In this Article

    The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) describes itself as a “best-in-class corporate university” for the Defense Acquisition Workforce.

    Defense Acquisition University (DAU) The headquarters is located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, but classroom operations are all over the country. The mission of DAU includes providing training and continuing education in acquisition, logistics, and technology with a goal of helping people to become “qualified acquisition, requirements and contingency professionals,” according to the official site.

    Those who accept acquisition jobs within the Department of Defense are required to complete certification training as part of their official duties; DAU provides this training.

    The university was created by a DoD directive in 1991, but wasn’t the centralized operation we know today. DAU had more humble beginnings as a consortium of training centers. As the agency evolved it switched to a corporate university model.

    The growing size and scope of the mission likely had much to do with the need to centralize. In 2014 DAU graduated more than 180,000 students. DAU was operated by the military until it became a civilian agency in the year 2000.

    Who Is Eligible For DAU Courses

    DAU resources are offered to those with qualifying affiliation to the U.S. government. Federal employees and certain contractors may attend DAU classes or training at no cost on a space-available basis.

    The official site advises that “all Service and DoD employees” can take DAU courses. There are quotas for the various agencies that send students to these training opportunities; qualifying for a slot in these classes may depend on whether the attendee has an “acquisition coded billet” or not.

    Non-DoD, international students, contractors, and others may attend on a space-available basis. No courses are open to the general public at the time of this writing.

    DAU Training

    DAU training includes virtual instruction and in-person learning at five main regional campuses and two colleges and supports nearly 200,000 members of the Defense Acquisition Workforce. Training and support options include:

    • DAWIA certification training (see below)
    • Credentialing
    • Job support tools and resources
    • Consulting services

    DAWIA, short for Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act, refers to a requirement for Defense Acquisition Workforce members to be certified in the jobs they perform. There are multiple career fields with DAWIA training and certification options including:

    • International Acquisitions
    • Business Cost Estimating
    • Business Financial Management
    • Contracting
    • Engineering
    • Facilities Engineering
    • Industrial/Contract Property Management
    • Information Technology
    • Life Cycle Logistics
    • Production, Quality, and Manufacturing
    • Program Management
    • Purchasing
    • Science and Technology Management
    • Test and Evaluation
    • Requirements Management

    Signing Up For Training

    To take modules or courses offered by Defense Acquisition University, you must first create an account and have it approved. Creating an account requires submission of a System Authorization Access Request (SAAR). Military members will be required to have a current Common Access Card and access the system through a .MIL domain.

    Things To Remember About DAU Training

    DAU certifications are not considered qualification requirements to be offered a job within the Department of Defense. Instead, DAU certifications are described on DoD job ads as being a “quality ranking factor”. However, if there are certification requirements listed in the job description, those requirements must be fulfilled within a prescribed time frame after accepting employment.

    In other words, your having certification isn’t required to LAND the job, obtaining it is required in order to KEEP the job.

    DoD new hires filling acquisition jobs are given two years (24 months) to complete any certification requirements listed in the job advertisement. The 24 month time frame begins the day you begin working in the acquisition-coded job. Those who do not certify within 24 months must get a waiver to continue working in their current position and the employee is still required to complete the certification as a condition of employment. DAU certification standards can not be waived.

    Certification is not offered to all. Only the following attendees may get certifications:

    • DoD employees
    • Military and certain civilians in “acquisition coded” jobs
    • “Select military officers” subject to assignments in acquisition coded positions

    Some current or future students may wonder if it’s permissible to train or get certified in multiple career fields. The DAU official site addresses this, stating it is allowed provided the initial certification standards are met. Students can take optional courses once their requirements have been fulfilled.

    Completing a DAU course does NOT equal certification–each branch of the military and/or DoD agency issues its own certification. You may be required to visit the online DAU site run by your branch of military service to initiate or check up on the status of your credential.

    DAU Training Locations

    The university has more learning resources online but physical training locations are still a part of the DAU mission. Areas where training is held in person or created for online use include, but aren’t limited to:


    • Belvoir, VA
    • APG Aberdeen, MD
    • Hanscom AFB, MA
    • Lakehurst, NJ
    • Natick, MA
    • Newport, RI
    • Philadelphia, PA
    • Picatinny Arsenal, NJ
    • APG – Mallette Training Facility


    • California, MD
    • DSCR Richmond, VA
    • Norfolk, VA


    • Kettering, OH
    • Columbus, OH
    • Rock Island, IL
    • Sterling Heights, MI


    • Huntsville, AL
    • Eglin AFB, FL
    • Warner Robins, GA


    • San Diego, CA
    • Ford Island, HI
    • Hill AFB, UT
    • Los Angeles, CA
    • Port Hueneme, CA


    • Defense Systems Management College – Ft. Belvoir, VA

    About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News

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