Continuing Education Unit (CEU) Guidelines Overview


Effective June 1, 1976, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill adopted the CEU as a unit of measurement for noncredit activities conducted under institutional auspices and meeting specified operating standards.

The “Continuing Education Unit” (CEU) is established for recording an individual’s participation in noncredit courses, programs, and other activities. One CEU is defined as ten hours of participation in an organized noncredit continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction.

Offerings for which CEUs are to be recorded must be approved in advance and must not be publicized as qualifying for CEUs until institutional approval has been given. The CEU records the extent of an individual’s participation in noncredit continuing education activities, and should not be confused with or equated with performance in a course for degree credit.


The Director of the Friday Center for Continuing Education, with the advice and assistance of the Center’s Administrative Board, shall be responsible for institution-wide administration of the CEU system. This responsibility shall include:

  • carrying out policies governing the CEU system
  • maintaining procedures for prior approval of activities for which CEUs are to be recorded
  • maintaining, in cooperation with Information Technology Services, an appropriate record-keeping system for CEUs
  • reporting annually on the operation of the CEU system
  • recommending policy changes with respect to the CEU system.

The Director of the Friday Center has the responsibility of approving, in accordance with procedures established by the Administrative Board, continuing education activities for which CEUs are to be recorded; the Administrative Board will act on any appeals of the Director’s decisions.

Operating Standards

CEUs will be recorded and maintained as permanent records for individual participants in a continuing education activity that meets the following standards:

  1. The activity is planned in response to an assessment of educational need either for a specific clientele group or for the general public. The planning effort should include contributions from individuals having expertise in the content area, and if a specific clientele group is to be served, representatives of that group.
  2. There is a statement of objectives and rationale for the activity prior to its initiation.
  3. Content of the activity is organized in a coherent and logical sequence.
  4. Qualified instructional personnel are selected to conduct the activity.
  5. The number of participant activity hours is specified.
  6. Provision is made for individual participants to register on the proper forms.
  7. Procedures and criteria for the evaluation of the activity, and of individual participants’ achievements, if appropriate, are established prior to the activity and provision is made for the results to be recorded at the conclusion of the activity.


Responsible sponsorship. An activity for which CEUs are to be recorded must be sponsored by a department, school, or other unit of the University. This sponsorship includes the assignment of supervision of the activity to a professionally capable program director or educational administrator, and compliance with applicable reporting requirements.

Capable direction. The elements of capable direction include:

  • professional leadership in program planning and development
  • selection of effective educational formats for the intended purposes and objectives
  • assignment of qualified instructional staff
  • adequate program management and administration
  • the design and implementation of evaluation techniques applicable to the total program, and if appropriate, to individual participants.

Qualified instruction. The development of a systematic process leading to specified educational objectives requires the selection of an instructional staff that has the following qualifications:

  • competence in the subject matter
  • ability to relate the subject matter to the program objectives
  • knowledge and skill in the methodology and processes required.


The system provides a uniform method of record-keeping and reporting, and facilitates documentation of individual participation in noncredit educational activities. Use of the CEU has been widely adopted by institutions of higher education, accrediting associations, and professional organizations; its use is advised by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Following are examples of some typical activities for which CEUs may be recorded.

  • continuing education short courses in technical or professional areas (for engineers, lawyers, nurses, teachers, for example)
  • in-service training programs to improve competence in new techniques or new technical areas
  • institutes or workshops held by professional or educational organizations in cooperation with the University—these activities must be educational in nature and must be designed to upgrade the performance of members in their professions
  • liberal education activities open to the general public
  • special training programs that may offer a combination of instruction and practice

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