Portland Community College Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Academic Policy Handbook ARCHIVE


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Continuing Education Units (CEU)


The Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is designed as a uniform unit of measurement to facilitate the accumulation and exchange of standardized information about individual participation in non- credit continuing education.

One Continuing Education Unit is defined as: "ten contact hours* of participation, in an organized continuing education experience, under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction." This definition was taken from the handbook entitled "The Continuing Education Unit Criteria and Guidelines," written by the National Task Force on the Continuing Education Unit.

The Council on the Continuing Education Unit was incorporated in l977 by members of the National Task Force on CEU. The Council was organized to place the monitoring, refining, and future guidance of CEU activities in a self-renewing nonprofit organization led by persons active in a wide spectrum of life- long learning activities. PCC will follow the Council's criteria and guidelines for CEU.

CEUs provide the opportunity for individuals to have recognition of their efforts to update/broaden their occupational knowledge, skills, or attitudes. Records of CEUs successfully completed provide a framework within which individuals can develop and achieve long-range educational goals through a variety of educational options. Having readily available permanent records permits individuals to maintain and transmit to others a record of their life-long occupationally related learning experiences. The most common uses of a CEU record or transcript by an individual are to supply an employer or prospective employer with information on continuing education and training experiences pertinent to an occupational competence; and to provide documentation to registration boards, certification bodies, or professional and occupational societies, of continuing education undertaken to maintain or increase professional competence. Many companies and organizations now include copies of CEU transcripts in employees'/members' personnel files for use when personnel evaluation, promotion, and/or professional organization membership status are being considered. Including continuing education among the requirements for registration, recertification, and renewal of a license has become a way of life for many professional, occupational, and paraprofessional groups.

CEUs at PCC are only available for occupational upgrading purposes. The employer(s) and/or professional organization for whom the CEU curriculum is being developed must be clearly identified on any request for the approval of a CEU. CEU should be used for all occupational upgrading courses that are not a part of a certificate/degree program.

Examples of activities that do not qualify for CEU include:

  • Association Membership and Certification Programs - Non- educational activities of professional, occupational, or other organizations that otherwise may be used to qualify for professional and occupational membership or certification.
  • In-Service Training Programs - Instructional activities that relate only to the procedures and policies of one organization are not appropriate for awarding CEU. Instruction applicable to the professional or occupational field, and has value wherever the individual may be employed, is appropriate for the awarding of CEU (if it meets CEU criteria).
  • Committee Work - Committee meetings, activities, and assignments are not appropriate for the awarding of CEUs.
  • Credit Programs - CEUs and academic credit, for secondary or post- secondary courses and programs, may not be awarded simultaneously. There is no relationship between CEUs and academic credit. Academic credit applies specifically to certificate/degree requirements and CEUs are not awarded for that purpose.
  • Entertainment and Recreation - Attendance at cultural performances, entertainment, recreational meetings, or participation in travel groups.
  • High-school Equivalency - Programs leading to high-school equivalency certificates or diplomas. Individual Scholarship - Independent writing or the presentation of papers outside of a planned, directly supervised continuing education experience that fulfills CEU criteria.
  • Mass Media Program - Programs delivered through the media (e.g., television, radio, newspaper) do not qualify for CEUs, unless these activities are an integral part of a planned continuing education experience that qualifies under CEU criteria.
  • Conferences and Conventions - Meetings, conferences, and conventions of professional/occupational organizations do not automatically qualify as continuing education experiences. However, specifically organized courses, workshops or seminars held in conjunction with meetings, conferences, or conventions may qualify for CEUs when the CEU criteria are met.
  • Instructing - Instructing or leading a continuing education experience for which CEUs are awarded is not an appropriate activity for the awarding of CEUs.
  • Work Experience - On-the-job training and other work experiences do not qualify for CEUs unless the experience is offered according to CEU criteria. CEUs are not awarded for prior life/work experiences.


When Is It Appropriate to Develop CEUs? - A request for Continuing Education Unit instruction may originate from an individual, an employer, or a professional association. In addition, PCC staff may identify the need for CEUs within business, industry, labor, government, and/or professional organizations. When a need has been identified, a PCC staff member should follow-up with appropriate employer(s) and/or professional organizations to validate the need for the CEU instruction and identify an appropriate individual(s) to work with the college in developing the curriculum. Be sure that the College receives a request to develop CEU instruction, in writing, from authorized individuals that represent an employer(s) and/or professional organization.

When a written request for CEU instruction is received by a department, a letter of intent to develop the curriculum must be sent through the CEU Approval Process. (The approval process is outlined in the CEU Approval Process section of this document.)

Developing the CEU Curriculum - When a letter of intent has been approved to develop a CEU curriculum, a PCC staff member will work with an appropriate individual(s) in business, industry, labor, government and/or professional association to develop the curriculum.

A Course Content & Outcomes Guide must be developed according to PCC's "Guidelines for Course Content & Outcomes Guides." Be sure that the Course Content & Outcomes Guide includes required student purchased instructional material and the minimum qualifications for an instructor to teach the course. CCOG's must be completed and on file with the instructional department and the Curriculum Development Department prior to offering the CEU instruction. CEUs will not be placed on the Course Master until a CCOG is received by the Curriculum Development Department.

If a curriculum has already been developed by an employer and/or professional organization and the curriculum is clearly written with instructional goals and objectives, then the CCOG does not need to include the instructional goals and objectives. A statement should be put in the Instructional Goals and Objectives section as to the identity of the curriculum and where it may be found. In these instances, the CCG must still include the required student purchased instructional materials and the minimum qualifications for an instructor to teach the course. Instructional departments who would like to offer existing CEU courses are required to consult with the originating department and work cooperatively with appropriate employers and/or professional organizations to coordinate the CEU offering. If the offering is appropriate, the originally developed Course Content & Outcomes Guide, required student purchased instructional materials, and minimum qualifications for instructors must be adhered to.

Contact Hours to CEU Determination - One Continuing Education Unit will be awarded for the successful completion of ten contact hours of instruction in a lecture format.

One CEU will be awarded for the successful completion of twenty contact hours of instruction in a lab format. The instructional contact hour is defined as 60 minutes.

Fractional CEUs may be awarded down to the minimum increment of .3 CEU for the successful completion of three lecture hours or six lab hours. The actual number of contact hours for which a CEU has been approved will determine the number of units awarded (i.e., eight lecture hours equal .8 CEU, l5 lecture hours equal l.5 CEU). CEUs may not be awarded for anything less than what was originally approved for a given CEU number and title.

Instructor Approval and Pay Rate - Instructors for CEUs will be approved via the Vocational Technical Instructor Approval Process. Instructors will be paid at the "Board" approved credit course rate.

Student Tuition and Registration - Students will pay tuition at the "Board" approved credit tuition rate. Lab fees will be charged when applicable. Students will be able to register for CEUs in the same manner as they would for any credit course. Please provide for tuition and registration procedures that are most convenient for the student.

Student Records and Grading - A student record will be established that includes the identification of the College, name and social security number of the student, title of the CEU course, term and year of completion, number of CEUs awarded, and an indication as to whether or not the student has successfully completed the CEU instruction. A sample of a CEU transcript may be found at the end of this document.

A grade roster will be given to the CEU instructor. Students who successfully meet the evaluative criteria for the CEU instruction will be identified on the grade roster with a "P." The computer will automatically convert the "P" grade to an "SC" (Successful Completion). Students who do not successfully complete the CEU instruction will be awarded an "X" which will be automatically converted to a "NSC" (Not Successfully Completed). Grade mailers will be sent at the end of each term in the same manner as we do for credit classes. In addition to the grade mailer, a permanent transcript will be maintained for each student enrolled in a CEU. This transcript will be separate from the college work taken in a credit program. This arrangement will allow the student to order a transcript with only credits, only CEU work, or both. The approved transcripting fee will be assessed for each type of transcript. When both types of transcripts are ordered at the same time, a fee will be charged for each transcript.

The requirements for the successful completion of CEU instruction are to be established prior to the offering as mutually agreed to by PCC and the appropriate employer(s) and/or professional organization. Requirements should include demonstrations of competence based on course objectives, attendance, or a combination of the two. When attendance is the only determinant of successful completion, the criteria for successful completion should be attendance at a minimum of 90% of the class sessions.

Evaluation- A department offering CEU instruction is responsible for the evaluation of course content and instructor. Evaluation procedures must include feedback from students, employers and/or professional organizations, and instructors.

CEU Approval Process

As mentioned earlier, when the College receives a request for CEU instruction in writing from an employer(s) and/or professional organization, the Department Chair will work with appropriate individual(s) to complete a letter of intent requesting approval to develop a CEU course. A Course Approval Request (CAR-1) form is completed and is attached to the letter of intent. The form must be signed off by the Department Chair and the Associate Dean, and sent to the Coordinator of Curriculum Development. Although in some cases it may be desirable, Subject Area Curriculum Committee review and approval is not necessary.

The Coordinator of Curriculum Development will review and approve the development of the CEU instruction. Unless approved by the Associate Dean, CEUs will not be placed on the Course Master until the Coordinator of Curriculum Development receives the Course Content &Outcomes Guide.

The Coordinator of Curriculum Development will send CEU courses to the Oregon Department of Education for approval as vocational supplementary courses. Vocational supplementary courses are reimbursed on the contact hour FTE formula.


Having the ability to offer CEU instruction offers a flexible option in meeting the occupational upgrading needs of our community. If you have any questions and/or need assistance in any aspect of developing CEU courses, please contact the Coordinator of Curriculum Development.

*For PCC purposes, ten contact hours = one CEU.