What’s the Difference Between CDU vs PDU in Project Management?

After earning any professional certification, you will most likely have to maintain the certification by pursuing professional development or continuing development activities. It is common for professional associations to offer their own brand of units to track and measure these activities. Two examples of these units are PDUs and CDUs.

Learn more about the difference when we compare PDU vs CDU, which certifications require each, and more in this Project Management Academy article.

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PMI Certifications Require PDUs

The Project Management Institute (PMI) describes itself as “the leading professional association for project management, and the authority for a growing global community of millions of project professionals.” If you hold a PMI certification, you must earn Professional Development Units (PDUs) to maintain your certification.

What is a PDU?

A PDU measures time spent on professional development activities such as learning, teaching others, or volunteering. One hour spent on these activities equals one PDU. You can earn PDUs in two categories: Education and Giving Back to the Profession. Education PDUs can be further broken down according to the PMI Talent Triangle.

PDU Requirements for PMI certifications

Your Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) cycle through PMI lasts three years. During those three years, you must report 60, 30, or 15 PDUs, depending on which PMI certification you hold. In addition, you must earn a minimum number of Education PDUs to demonstrate proficiency in each area of the PMI Talent Triangle.

If you need 60 PDUs in your three-year CCR cycle, you also need 35 Education PDUs:

  • 8 PDU hours per PMI Talen Triangle area
  • 11 PDU hours in an area of the PMI Talent Triangle

If you need 30 PDUs in your three-year CCR cycle, you also need 18 Education PDUs:

  • 4 PDU hours per PMI Talent Triangle area
  • 6 PDU hours in any area of the PMI Talent Triangle

If you need 15 PDUs in your three-year CCR cycle, you also need 9 Education PDUs:

  • 2 PDU hours per PMI Talent Triangle area
  • 3 PDU hours in any area of the PMI Talent Triangle

Learn more about PMI requirements for maintaining and renewing your certification, or review the list of PMI certifications and their PDU requirements below.

List of PMI Certifications

CertificationCertification CycleTotal PDUs RequiredEducation Minimum PDUsGiving Back Maximum PDUs
PMP3 Years603525
PgMP3 Years603525
PfMP3 Years603525
PMI-PBA3 Years603525
PMI-ACP3 Years301812
PMI-RMP3 Years301812
PMI-SP3 Years301812
CAPM3 Years1596
For the most recent information regarding PDU requirements visit PMI’s CCR Handbook.

IIBA Certifications Require CDUs

The International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) is a professional association for business analysts. If you hold an IIBA certification, you must earn Continuing Development Units (CDUs) to maintain your certification.

What is a CDU?

Like PDUs, a CDU measures time spent on planned, structured, approved learning and professional activities. One hour spent on these activities equals one CDU. Qualifying activities include professional development, professional experience, professional activities, volunteer service, self-directed learning, and formal academic continuing education.

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CDU Requirements for IIBA certifications

Your certification renewal cycle through IIBA lasts either one or three years, depending on which certification you hold. During the three-year cycle, you must earn 60 CDUs, while the one-year cycle requires 20 CDUs for IIBA certification renewal.

The CDUs you earn should be dispersed across the six approved CDU Activity Categories as outlined in the IIBA Certification Renewal Handbook:

CategoryCDU Activity CategoriesMaximum CDU Values per 3 Year Cycle
1Professional Development30
2Work History (Professional Experience)25
3Professional Activities30
4Volunteer Service30
5Self-Directed Learning15
6Formal Academic Education30
IIBA Certification Renewal Requirements

The IIBA offers three Core Business Analysis certifications and four Specialized Business Analysis certifications. However, only some of these designations require you to earn Continuing Development Units for recertification. Learn more about these requirements in the list of IIBA certifications below.

List of IIBA Certifications

IIBA CredentialCredential TypeRecertification Required?TermCDUs RequiredTransferrable CDUsGrace Period to Recertify
ECBA™CertificateNono expirationnanana
CCBA®Professional CertificationYes3 years60*201 year
CBAP®Professional CertificationYes3 years60*201 year
Specialized Certifications
IIBA®-AACProfessional CertificationYes1 year2054 months
IIBA®-CBDAProfessional CertificationYes1 year2054 months
IIBA®-CCACertificateNono expirationnanana
*CDUs that are transferrable have to be earned within the 3rd year of previous recertification cycle.

CDU vs PDU

How are PDUs and CDUs similar?

  • One hour equals one development unit
  • Earned in minimum increments of 0.25 units
  • Earned through training, education, or other professional activities that help you develop and hone skills and knowledge related to the certification
  • Certification cycles last either one or three years, depending on the certification
  • Boost your skills and career

How are PDUs and CDUs different?

  • PDUs focus on project management skills and knowledge
  • CDUs focus on business analysis skills and knowledge
  • PDU categories include Education and Giving Back, with Education PDUs further broken down into Talent Triangle areas
  • CDU categories are broken down by activity types

Can CDUs be converted to PDUs?

Since business analysis skills can be useful in project management careers and vice versa, CDUs can often be converted to PDUs. However, this conversion may not be an exact one-to-one ratio.

For example, suppose you were taking a project management course that counted for 10 PDU hours, but only 2 of those hours were focused on business analysis content. Only the time spent directly on business analysis content will count as CDUs.

Who Wins? PDU vs CDU

IIBA certifications and PMI certifications can complement each other well. However, the IIBA path focuses more on a business analyst’s perspective on an organization. Your continuing education and professional development activities may count for either PDUs or CDUs – or both! – depending on the activity content.

In some organizations, a separate business analyst role may not exist. Project managers may benefit from learning critical business analysis concepts to be more well-rounded and able to carry out the functions of a business analyst. Likewise, a trained or certified business analyst would be well-served in their careers by getting a project management certification.

Are you ready to learn more about gaining relevant certifications to help you grow your skills and career? View Project Management Academy’s certification training courses or PDU courses.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at | + posts
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO