Structure of the U.S. Education System:
Continuing Education Units (CEU)
Continuing education units, or CEUs, are awarded by many education and training providers to signify successful completion of non-credit programs and courses intended to improve the knowledge and skills of working adults. Among the most common uses of CEUs are to record refresher, transitional, or knowledge improvement accomplishments for professional workers undergoing what is called continuing professional education.
The typical CEU represents approximately ten (10) contact hours of experience in a structured continuing education experience (class, seminar, retreat, practicum, self-study, etc.) that is supervised in some way by a qualified continuing education provider.
CEUs are similar in theory to academic credits but differ in two important respects:
CEUs are not awarded for academic study and do not represent, or provide, academic credit; and
They may be awarded for a variety of experiences in different settings whose only common criterion is that they be measurable, supervised educational or training experiences with defined starting and ending points.
Some CEUs can be converted into academic credit hours. This is done by both higher education institutions and special examining and assessment services. Academic credit can only be granted for CEUs if (1) the subject matter and nature of the CEU experience is approved as applicable to consideration for academic credit; (2) the continuing education experience has been analyzed for content and level and, if necessary, the person holding the CEUs has been examined; and (3) a formal recommendation is made by competent academic authorities (faculty, review board, etc.) based on an agreed conversion formula. CEUs are most commonly converted via a formula that considers at least ten (10) CEUs to equal a single academic credit hour.
The most authoritative U.S. guide to CEUs is provided by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Information on converting CEUs to academic credit hours, and vice versa, is provided by the American Council on Education (ACE).
See also: U.S. Grading Systems
U.S. Credit Systems
Experiential Credit Conversion
Comparing U.S. and Other Credit Systems
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