Frequently Asked Questions about the CDCES



What is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist?

A Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) is a health professional who possesses comprehensive knowledge of and experience in diabetes prevention, prediabetes, and diabetes management. The CDCES educates, supports, and advocates for people affected by diabetes, addressing the stages of diabetes throughout the lifespan. The CDCES promotes self-management to achieve individualized behavioral and treatment goals that reduce risks and optimize health outcomes.

The certification exam for Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists is designed and intended for health professionals who have responsibilities that include the direct provision of diabetes education (DE), as defined by CBDCE. The credential was previously known as the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE).

What is the difference between certification and certificate programs?

Certification refers to a credential that demonstrates the certificant’s specialized knowledge, skills, and experience. After meeting defined eligibility requirements, a certification applicant achieves a credential that is nationally recognized credential with the successful completion of a rigorous exam. In addition, individuals who hold a certification credential are normally required to renew their certification on a regular basis in order to demonstrate continued knowledge and experience in the specialty, e.g., maintaining the CDCES credential requires renewal every 5 years.

A certificate program is an educational offering that confers a document (certificate) at the program’s conclusion. The participant’s possession of the certificate may be indicative of attendance only and is not necessarily a measure of knowledge or skills. There is also no requirement to demonstrate the maintenance of knowledge or skills over a period of time.

How long is certification valid?

Certification is valid for a five-year time frame with an expiration date that ends on December 31 of the last year of the certification cycle. Read about renewal requirements.

Where can I find information on the Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management ("BC-ADM") certification?

CBDCE does not administer or manage the BC-ADM certification program. It is sponsored by the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES). For further information, visit ADCES's web site.

Where do I find information about licensure?

FAQ - Eligibility


Who is eligible for certification as a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)?

The CDCES program is a practice-based certification for experienced health professionals who provide diabetes care and education. Read more about eligibility.

Is there an alternative pathway for eligibility to become a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)?

Yes, there is. It is referred to as the “Unique Qualifications Pathway” (UQ). UQ was developed for health professionals with advanced degrees providing diabetes care and education and who do not qualify under the current list of disciplines via the standard pathway for initial certification.

What are the eligibility requirements under the “Unique Qualifications Pathway” (UQ)?

This pathway has different eligibility requirements and involves a “pre-application” process. View the UQ eligibility requirements and application.

Who would use the Unique Qualifications Pathway (UQ)?

This pathway is designed for health professionals holding a minimum of a master’s degree in a health-related area/concentration from a United States college or university that is accredited by a nationally recognized regional accrediting body to pursue certification or who can provide official independent evaluation verifying equivalency to a minimum of a master’s degree in a health-related area/concentration from a United States college or university. Learn more.

What is the fee for the Unique Qualifications Pathway (UQ) pre-application?

The non-refundable application review fee is $150. If your application is approved, the $150 will be credited towards the full application fee for initial certification in effect at the time of the application (e.g., if approved and the current application fee for those applying for initial certification is $350, you will need to pay an additional $200 when you apply for the exam). If your UQ application review is unsuccessful, no refund of the review fee is provided. View the UQ eligibility requirements and application for more information.

FAQ - Exam Preparation

Exam Preparation

Why doesn't CBDCE provide review courses or publish study materials?

As outlined in its Articles of Incorporation and mission statement, CBDCE's responsibilities do not include the creation or development of educational courses or materials. CBDCE believes that offering preparation courses or study materials would constitute a conflict of interest and could imply a guarantee of passing. Individuals will want to review the information CBDCE provides about preparing for the exam, including the Exam Content Outline. This information is available in the Exam Handbook published annually. CBDCE does have a practice exam available that some applicants may find helpful.

Where can I go to study?

As the CDCES certification is a practice-based certification, it requires individuals to accrue professional practice experience prior to applying. This practice experience is necessary in order to master the knowledge and application of that knowledge associated with the specialty. As such the ‘where to go” to study is not an easy and direct answer to provide as one cannot just study from a ‘book’ to prepare for the exam. The exam does assess not just knowledge related to diabetes education but the ability to apply knowledge and analyze situations a diabetes educator may see in their role. We do provide a variety of references to assist with studying in our Exam Handbook. We also recommend a thorough review of our Exam Content Outline as this identifies the various areas that one is tested on.

FAQ - Professional Practice Hours

Professional Practice Hours

I am concerned about accruing the 1,000 DCE practice hours. How do I get the hours?

While some may feel a little anxiety over the 1,000 DCE hour requirement, we encourage those interested to look at achieving the hours in smaller chunks. When you break down the total requirement over several years and then over the hours needed per week, it can be viewed as a very achievable goal.

How do I track my DCE professional practice hours?

For initial certification, CBDCE does not have a required form or log that must be used for tracking volunteer or employment DCE practice hours. However, your supervisor (or other health professional if you are in private practice, e.g., M.D./D.O.) must be able to verify your practice hours if you apply and are chosen for an audit. So, for the tracking of DCE hours, we recommend that the individual interested in becoming a CDCES start a conversation with their supervisor and together review the definition of DCE for initial certification and come up with a plan on how best to track the DCE hours. Ask your supervisor what documentation they would need from you to be able to complete the audit verification, e.g., simple spreadsheet. This conversation will allow your supervisor to easily verify your hours if you are chosen for audit (just be sure not to violate any HIPAA regulations with your chosen tracking method). It’s all in the planning.

What is diabetes care and education (DCE)?

Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES), historically also referred to as diabetes self-management training or diabetes education, is performed by health professionals who have appropriate credentials and experience consistent with their profession’s scope of practice. CBDCE’s uses the term diabetes care and education (DCE). Review the Exam Handbook for specific information on which activities are considered DCE.

Am I doing diabetes care and education?

You've reviewed the current definition of diabetes care and education (DCE), but you are still not sure about your experience and if it counts towards the DCE practice requirement for initial certification. What do you do next? The CBDCE national office staff cannot assess whether a health care professional is doing DCE. Review your work responsibilities - the work that you do that fall within the definition of DCE can be claimed as DCE hours. We also suggest that you review the examples of experience that are not considered DCE and also have a conversation with your supervisor in regards to the definition. In talking with your supervisor, you two can agree on what experience can be counted and also agree on how you'll track that information.

Do I need to have experience in ALL of the DSMES components (assessment, care and education plan, interventions, ongoing support, monitoring, patient progress, documentation, and development of DSMES services/administration)?

For purposes of certification eligibility, some or all of the DSMES components of the DCE process may be performed and counted towards meeting the DCE practice experience requirement. However, regardless of discipline and practice experience, one should have the knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge across all areas of the exam Content Outline. For more information refer to the Exam Handbook for the Definition of Diabetes Care and Education (DCE), which includes a description of the DSMES components, and the Exam Content Outline.

Are there professional practice experiences that are not considered diabetes education?

There are activities that are not considered diabetes care and education for purposes of certification eligibility and should not be included as part of Professional Practice Experience. While not an exhaustive list, a list of examples of such activities for those applying can be found in the current year's Handbook.

Is there a maximum number of hours per week that may be claimed as diabetes education?

Yes, CBDCE has determined that 40 is the maximum number of hours per week in diabetes care and education (DCE) that may be reported when applying for initial certification. However, regardless of the number of hours per week worked (or in volunteer situation), it is important that the diabetes educator claim only time spent performing DCE. As in any role, there is a certain amount of time not dedicated to primary responsibilities. Teaching other health care professionals, completing administrative duties, conducting a community health fair screening, are a few examples of responsibilities that may not be counted toward meeting professional practice requirements for initial certification (though some may qualify as part of professional practice for renewal of certification).

FAQ - Applications and Audits

Applications and Audits

When will I hear about the status of my application for the exam?

For individuals applying online, notification of either approval to sit for the exam or that an applicant has been selected for audit is provided at the time of application. For individuals applying using a paper application, you should call PSI if you have not received notice of receipt more than 4 weeks after the application was mailed. Call the PSI Examination Services Department at (833) 333-4755. This information is not available from CBDCE.

I was selected for an audit. What do I need to provide and where can I find the instructions for submitting my audit documentation?

For individuals selected for audit during the application process, the audit documentation must be received by CBDCE by the deadline date identified in the audit notice. Refer to the audit document for specific instructions and forms required to verify eligibility. Notification of decisions on eligibility after the audit process is completed are provided to the applicants as quickly as possible. Neither the CBDCE nor PSI Examination Services provides the status of an application via telephone, fax, or electronically. Occasionally determinations of eligibility require additional time. Applicants will be notified when approved for scheduling their exam. Once approved, you will have 90 days from the approval date to schedule their exam. Applicants must be aware of this and plan accordingly.

FAQ - Exam and Scoring

Exam and Scoring

How is the exam constructed?

How do I get a copy of my score report?

Score reports are available directly from PSI (formerly Applied Measurement Professionals/AMP), CBDCE's testing agency, for a period of 12 months from the date of the exam administration. A fee of $25 is required with each request for a duplicate score report. This fee is paid directly to PSI. Please contact PSI for additional information: or 913-895-4600

FAQ - Appeals


If I don’t pass the exam can I appeal?

Yes, there is an appeals process. In the rare event that a problem arises in the administration of an examination, it may affect an individual or group of applicants. Problems may include, without limitation, power failures, defective equipment, or other disruptions of exam administrations such as natural disasters or other emergencies. Applicants who do not pass the examination and believe irregular testing conditions were a contributing factor may file an appeal with the CEO. Visit the Reconsideration of Adverse Exam Administration Decision Policy for details.

An individual who chooses to file an appeal (the appellant) shall be responsible for any expenses that he or she incurs in connection with this process. There shall not be any right of appeal based on the applicant's failure to submit a complete application (including submittal of any required audit documentation), pay the required application fees, or pass the CBDCE certification examination, nor shall there be any right of appeal based on the certificants failure to submit a complete application for renewal by continuing education, pay the required fees, or respond to requests for additional application information. These applications shall be deemed incomplete.

If my application is rejected, can I appeal?

Yes. Application appeals are available only to individuals whose applications are rejected because of failure to meet eligibility requirements. Appeals are not available to individuals whose applications are rejected for any other reason, including being incomplete or improperly completed, or when for other reasons evaluation of application cannot be completed. Visit the Reconsideration of Adverse Eligibility and Reconsideration Decisions Policy for details.

An individual who chooses to file an appeal (the appellant) shall be responsible for any expenses that he or she incurs in connection with this process. There shall not be any right of appeal based on the applicant's failure to submit a complete application (including submittal of any required audit documentation), pay the required application fees, or pass the CBDCE certification examination, nor shall there be any right of appeal based on the certificants failure to submit a complete application for renewal by continuing education, pay the required fees, or respond to requests for additional application information. These applications shall be deemed incomplete.



What's the difference between CBDCE and the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES)?

Although there is a professional relationship between the Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE) and the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES), it is important to understand that they are separate, autonomous organizations. Each is incorporated independent of the other, with separate charters, bylaws, finances, and leadership. ADCES has no role in the certification program or any other activities of CBDCE.

Through the definition, development, maintenance, and protection of the certification and credentialing process, CBDCE promotes quality diabetes education. This is CBDCE’s mission. With the assistance of its contracted testing service, CBDCE periodically examines the psychometric and legal defensibility of the certification program to ensure that the content of the Certification exam for diabetes care and education specialists (Certification exam) continues to reflect actual practice. The credentialing mechanism validates knowledge in diabetes education and provides recognition of excellence in practice. Certification sets the industry standard.