Continuing Education and CEUs
What is continuing education?
In the general sense, continuing education refers to training that occurs after secondary or college education. Continuing education is usually considered more formalized than simply self-teaching but less formalized than post-secondary education. Typically, individuals continue education without the goal of a degree or certification. Continuing education embodies the idea that you should always strive for improvement and be a lifelong learner.
Within the United States, continuing education refers to ongoing training required by teachers to obtain or renew their teaching licenses. Many states require teachers to meet specific requirements—typically in the form of graduate credits, CEUs, and/or professional development hours—in order to renew their teaching licenses.
The goal of continuing education for teachers is to ensure that teachers are up to date on current teaching practices and pedagogy.
What is a CEU course?
A CEU course is a class for continuing education that grants continuing education units (CEUs). Depending on the state legislature, these CEUs may be used to meet requirements for renewal of your teacher’s license. It is best practice to consult your local department/bureau of education or instruction before signing up for a CEU class, to ensure that it is approved for that purpose. However, anyone may take a CEU course and choose not to apply for the credits.
What are CEUs?
Continuing education units or CEUs are a unit of measure designed to help standardize professional development requirements for license renewal. One CEU equals 10 hours of participation/instruction in an educational course or class.
What are continuing education credits good for?
Continuing education credits are good for renewing teaching licenses in some US states. The actual requirements vary by state. In some cases, even if they are not your state’s standard, CEUs can be converted into the unit that is prescribed. Always be sure to check with your state’s department of education to verify your state’s standards.
Do CEUs count as college credits?
CEUs do not count as college credits. They are distinct units with different requirements and uses. In many states, however, teachers can use both CEUs and college credits to fulfill professional development requirements for license renewal. Nonetheless, the units are not interchangeable. Continuing education units (CEUs) in the education field are generally restricted to use for teachers’ license renewals. While a graduate college credit may be accepted for license renewal, CEUs cannot be used in pursuit of a graduate degree (except in rare exceptions).
Moreover, the two are not equivalent; typically, more CEUs are required than college credits to meet the same requirements. Occasionally, a state’s department of education will provide conversion rates for the various semester hours, credit hours, contact hours, CEUs, and college credits as they relate to teaching-license renewals.
Another difference between CEUs and college credits is that there are no universal guidelines or requirements for CEUs, nor is there an official governing organization. Compared to CEUs, college credits (or semester hours) can only be granted by accredited institutions and are therefore generally seen as more authoritative.
How do I apply for CEU credits?
The process for applying for CEU credits varies by state. Please check with your local legislature. You will likely be required to fill out specific continuing education or professional development forms and submit them to your state’s department of education. Often the application forms will be included online in the larger set of forms for teaching-license renewal.
In order to apply for CEU credits, you will likely need to present the following evidence:
- Provider name (often restricted to a set of approved providers)
- Dates of attendance
- Description of the content
Occasionally, certificates of attendance or course transcripts are also required. Additionally, some states allow you to be preapproved for CEU courses, to ensure you don’t take a course that won’t count toward your license renewal.
How do I get continuing education credits?
You can get continuing education credit by taking courses and then applying for credit approval through your state’s department of education. Some states also allow preapproval to ensure a course will count toward your license renewal. For every 10 contact hours of an approved course, you should receive one CEU.
How do I get CEU approval?
Continuing education unit (CEU) approval varies by state. There are two routes possible: preapproval for CEU courses or approval after completion. Preapproval ensures you don’t take a course that won’t count toward your license renewal. Some states encourage preapproval, while others do not allow it. Be sure to check your state’s preference before enrolling in courses.
For states that allow you to be preapproved for CEU courses, you will likely need to fill out forms provided online by your state’s education department.
How many contact hours are there per CEU?
There are 10 contact hours per CEU. One contact hour equals one hour of required time spent on a course for completion. This includes time spent on required readings, video viewings, and assignments. The time spent for a contact hour can occur in person or virtually, and it can include one-on-one or group instruction.