College Of Continuing Education
Q: I have been taking some computer courses on my agency's website. The site
says it offers CEU's but I don't exactly know what that means. Can anybody
explain what CEU's are and whether they can be used towards undergraduate
and graduate degrees?
A:The CEU is a "Continuing Education Unit," which is used for professional and continuing education courses. One CEU equals ten clock hours of contact time. While it is usually frowned upon to grant partial CEU's, it is quite common to see them expressed as a decimal. Thus, an eight-hour workshop or seminar would equal 0.8 CEU's, a 15-hour workshop or seminar is 1.5 CEU's, etc. Over the past few years, CEU's have begun to be used for alternative delivery methods such as online, correspondence, or other external means of pursuing continuing education. In these cases, the CEU is calculated based on the amount of time estimated for someone to complete a course. Thus, if you see an online course offering 1.5 CEU's, that represents the 15 clock hours the average person would take to complete it. CEU's are not regulated; although there are professional organizations that develop standards for continuing education and for CEU's (especially with regard to documentation and records maintenance), those standards are not mandatory. CEU's also represent only one type of continuing education credit; in specific professions, there are specific types of continuing education credits (such as CME's in medicine, CLE's in law, and various units of credit offered in psychology and counseling). Any entity can claim to offer CEU's; the question becomes whether a state agency or professional organization will accept those credits. (For example, the XYZ Education Center can purport to offer CEU's, but that does not necessarily mean they will be accepted by professional organizations such as the APA for psycholgists, the NBCC for professional counselors, or any state regulatory agency.) Finally, for better or worse, the answer to your second question is no - CEU's do not represent, nor can they be equated with, credit toward college or university degrees. Academic credit is measured in semester hours or, less frequently, quarter hours. The semester hour represents one hour spent in class per week for 15 weeks, plus twoout-of-class hours that might eb applied to reading, research, writing, etc. Thus, the average three-credit college course translates to three hours in class per week for one semester, plus two additional hours per week for the other stuff. In nontraditional degree programs, one semester hour of credit is granted for each 45 hours of work, regardless of what form it takes; thus, for a three-credit computation, you would estimate spending 135 hours of work on a subject. (The formula for conversion is that a quarter hour credit is based on a 10-week quarter rather than a 15-week semester. Therefore, one quarter-hour equals two-thirds of a semester hour, and one semester hour equals one-and-a-half times the quarter hour.) Despite the fact that CEU's do not translate *directly* into college credits, however, you can use your CEU-based learning to earn college credit through the portfolio process at schools such as Thomas Edison State College, Charter Oak State College, or Excelsior College. To see how the portfolio process works, you can read the three articles in the TESC section of my home page. The CEU-based learning would simply be one way of documenting your knowledge for a portfolio-based credit submission.
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