Defining Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
A Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is a measure of participation in an organized continuing education experience under sponsorship by an appropriate authority, with instruction, direction, and evaluation by qualified personnel.
- Are appropriate for significant post-secondary level learning experiences for which degree credit is not earned.
- May be used for the quantitative measurement, recording, reporting, accumulation, transfer, and recognition of participation by learners in noncredit continuing education activities.
- Avoid the term “noncredit” and reserves the term “credit” for those learning activities which generally lead to a degree or diploma.
- Encompass all noncredit educational programs that confer formal documentation of completion upon individual participants.
- Are quantified as the number of actual hours of instruction divided by ten.
USC adheres to strict guidelines designed to assure proper documentation and reporting of noncredit special activities on behalf of the university, an institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Benefits of CEUs
CEUs are a means of documenting the professional development activities an organization or department offers. For many career professionals, the CEU is used to maintain credentials, to justify promotions, and to document the training programs in which they participate. For the university, CEUs help record continuing education opportunities provided by the university. This information is used to validate compliance with SACS standards and for various reporting purposes. SACS Standard 3.4.2 requires that all Continuing Education is aligned with the University's mission. USC policies are aligned with best practices of the International Association for Continuing Education Training.
All programs for which University CEUs are provided must be sponsored by a University Department. The CEU packet [pdf] must be approved by the dean or department head to ensure proper review and program alignment with the University mission.
External agencies, including non-profit organizations, government agencies, businesses and professional development organizations, may be eligible to qualify their programs for CEUs if such programs demonstrate compatibility with the mission of the University of South Carolina and secure sponsorship through the Office of Continuing Education and Conferences or a related university academic unit.
CEUs are based on specific programs, not across the board for an entire organization, or for individuals. In other words, each class, conference, seminar, or training opportunity must be individually certified by our office in advance of the actual program. CEUs may not be issued to some, but not all participants who have successfully completed the program requirements.
CEUs are issued to all participants of programs that have a narrowly defined target audience and a learning objective that meets an identified need within the area of instruction. Participants and sponsors may not opt out of CEUs or issue CEUs to some, but not all, participants. Rather, the issuance of CEUs will be determined solely based on the satisfactory completion of the stated program requirements, as outlined in University Policy ACAF 1.72 [pdf].
Individual persons who wish to enroll in a CEU-approved program may not apply for CEU documentation. CEUs are only intended for the university academic and business units or sponsored organizations that offer continuing education programs. CEUs are issued on a program basis. Unfortunately, individuals may not apply to receive CEUs on a course that they have attended or plan to attend in the future. We suggest that participants ask the program coordinators if CEUs are available prior to registration.
CEU records are widely used to provide evidence of completion of continuing education requirements mandated by certification bodies, professional societies or government licensing boards. CEUs may be used for the purposes of documentation for personal records or professional reporting to meet requirements for:
- Maintenance or improvement of professional competencies.
- Documentation of continuing qualifications for licensure, certification or registration.
- Evidence of personal and vocational growth and adjustment to meet changing career demands.
- Preparation for a new career by personal preference or as caused by the pressure of individual or technological obsolescence.
- Demonstration of a conscious and persistent effort toward personal development.
Planning Ahead is a Key Requirement
Official university CEUs will be granted to university sponsoring units that submit for and receive authorization to issue CEUs in advance of the educational event. Evidence of deliberate advance planning is required as a component of approval to issue official University CEUs and must include:
- A needs assessment identifying the reason for which the activity is being planned.
- Alignment with University mission and vision.
- A statement of learning outcome objectives.
- A statement of requirements for satisfactory completion and method of validation.
- Quality of curriculum content, including documentation of instructional contact hours and content level.
- Validation of qualification of instructors.
- An evaluation of the course to be used to improve future programs.
Fees vary, depending on the program, sponsoring organization, and services required. For university sponsors, the program fee is $20.00. An additional fee of $5.00 per participant is applied for CEU documentation services. Additional services, including registration, marketing, and program coordination are available upon request.
Organizations outside the university may contact us at email@example.com for additional information about sponsorship, program application, and associated fees.
Access to Blackboard
More and more programs are moving to online formats and learning management tools like Blackboard become an invaluable tool. The university’s contract with Blackboard stipulates that it can be used by students who are enrolled in a USC credit program or a non-credit program where official USC CEUs are earned. If you are considering using Blackboard for an upcoming course where official CEUs will be issued, the fee is $75.00 per course plus $5.00 per student. Complete a Blackboard Access form [pdf] and include it with your CEU packet submission.
Other Ways We Can Help You
Our office offers a number of professional education opportunities through our Continuing Education Programs. We understand the time it takes to put together and manage a program. We can help you with registration and program coordination. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put together a customized proposal for you.
Services may include:
- CEU and/or noncredit certificate approval and processing.
- Registration of participants (mail, fax, or online).
- Fee collection and distribution.
- Classroom or meeting space reservations.
- Food/beverage services during on-site instruction.
- Data entry of participants, completion, and noncredit transcript maintenance.
- Providing summary reports.
- Promotion of the certificate program on CEC website, and design/printing of promotional materials.