Continuing education

Last updated

Continuing education (similar to further education in the United Kingdom and Ireland) is an all-encompassing term within a broad list of post-secondary learning activities and programs. The term is used mainly in the United States and Canada.


Recognized forms of post-secondary learning activities within the domain include: degree credit courses by non-traditional students, non-degree career training, college remediation, workforce training, and formal personal enrichment courses (both on-campus and online). [1] [2]

General continuing education is similar to adult education, at least in being intended for adult learners, especially those beyond traditional undergraduate college or university age.

Frequently, in the United States and Canada continuing education courses are delivered through a division or school of continuing education of a college or university known sometimes as the university extension or extension school. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development argued, however, that continuing education should be "'fully integrated into institutional life rather than being often regarded as a separate and distinctive operation employing different staff' if it is to feed into mainstream programmes and be given the due recognition deserved by this type of provision". [3]

Georgetown University, Michigan State University, and the University of Denver have benefited from non-credit programs as it relates to strengthening partnerships with corporations and government agencies, helping to inform and shape the curriculum for degree programs, and generating revenue to support the academic enterprise. [4]


In the United Kingdom, Oxford University 's Department for Continuing Education was founded in 1878, [5] and the Institute of Continuing Education of Cambridge University dates to the 1873. [6]

The Chautauqua Institution, originally the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, was founded in 1874 "as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning. It was successful and broadened almost immediately beyond courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art and physical education." [7]

Cornell University was among higher education institutions that began offering university-based continuing education, primarily to teachers, through extension courses in the 1870s. As noted in the Cornell Era of February 16, 1877, the university offered a "Tour of the Great Lakes" program for "teachers and others" under the direction of Professor Theodore B. Comstock, head of Cornell's department of geology. [8]

The University of Wisconsin–Madison began its continuing education program in 1907. [9] [10] The New School for Social Research, founded in 1919, was initially devoted to adult education. [11] In 1969, Empire State College, a unit of the State University of New York, was the first institution in the US to exclusively focus on providing higher education to adult learners. In 1976 the University of Florida created its own Division of Continuing Education and most courses were offered on evenings or weekends to accommodate the schedules of working students. [12]

The method of delivery of continuing education can include traditional types of classroom lectures and laboratories. However, many continuing education programs make heavy use of distance education, which not only includes independent study, but can also include videotaped material, broadcast programming or online education which has more recently dominated the distance learning community.

For professionals

Within the domain of continuing education, professional continuing education is a specific learning activity generally characterized by the issuance of a certificate or continuing education units (CEU) for the purpose of documenting attendance at a designated seminar or course of instruction. Licensing bodies in a number of fields (such as teaching and healthcare) impose continuing education requirements on members who hold licenses to continue practicing a particular profession. These requirements are intended to encourage professionals to expand their foundations of knowledge and stay up-to-date on new developments.

Depending on the field, these requirements may be satisfied through college or university coursework, extension courses or conferences and seminars attendance. Although individual professions may have different standards, the most widely accepted standard, developed by the International Association for Continuing Education & Training, is that ten contact hours equals one Continuing Education Unit. [13] Not all professionals use the CEU convention. For example, the American Psychological Association accredits sponsors of continuing education and uses simply a CE approach. In contrast to the CEU, the CE credit is typically one CE credit for each hour of contact.

In the spring of 2009, Eduventures, a higher education consulting firm, released the results of a study that illustrated that the recession had made a significant impact on the views of prospective continuing education students. A survey of 1,500 adults who planned to enroll in a course or program within the next two years determined that while nearly half of respondents believed that the value of education had risen due to the recession, over two-thirds said the state of the economy had affected their plans to pursue continuing education. [14]

The World Bank's 2019 World Development Report on the future of work [15] explains that flexible learning opportunities at universities and adult learning programs that allow workers to retrain and retool are vital in order for labor markets to adjust to the future of work.

See also

Related Research Articles

Community college Educational institution

A community college is a type of educational institution. The term can have different meanings in different countries: many community colleges have an "open enrollment" for students who have graduated from high school. The term usually refers to a higher educational institution that provides workforce education and college transfer academic programs. Some institutions maintain athletic teams and dormitories similar to their university counterparts.

Distance education Mode of delivering education to students who are not physically present

Distance education, also called distance learning, is the education of students who may not always be physically present at a school. Traditionally, this usually involved correspondence courses wherein the student corresponded with the school via mail. Today, it involves online education. A distance learning program can be completely distance learning, or a combination of distance learning and traditional classroom instruction. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), offering large-scale interactive participation and open access through the World Wide Web or other network technologies, are recent educational modes in distance education. A number of other terms are used roughly synonymously with distance education.

Adult education Any form of learning adults engage in beyond traditional schooling

Adult education, distinct from child education, is a practice in which adults engage in systematic and sustained self-educating activities in order to gain new forms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, or values. It can mean any form of learning adults engage in beyond traditional schooling, encompassing basic literacy to personal fulfillment as a lifelong learner.

A nontraditional student is a term originating in North America, that refers to a category of students at colleges and universities.

Lifelong learning is the "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated" pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Therefore, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, as well as competitiveness and employability.

Amberton University is a private, nonprofit university located in Garland, Texas, in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex of the United States of America. The main campus is adjacent to Interstate 635. Amberton is a private university that adheres to an Evangelical Christian philosophy. The school began as part of Abilene Christian University as an extension campus from 1971 until 1982, and was initially located in Mesquite, Texas, moving to Garland in 1974. Plans for its separation into an independent institution were initiated when the school received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1981, and it became known as Amber University in 1982, with the "ton" being added to its name in 2001. A branch campus was opened in Frisco, Texas in 2006.

Atlantic University is an American private non-profit distance education institution of higher and continuing education in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The university is associated with Edgar Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), and its administrative offices are in the Don and Nancy de Laski Education Center on the main A.R.E. campus. The university is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), for its distance education and hybrid programs. The university also maintains licensure with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

A continuing education unit (CEU) or continuing education credit (CEC) is a measure used in continuing education programs to assist the professional to maintain their license in their profession. Continuing education or professional development is required in many fields, including teachers, insurance professionals, interior designers/interior architects, lighting designers, architects, engineers, emergency management professionals, school administrators, educators, nurses, mental health professionals, psychologists and social workers. The continuing education unit is described as ten hours of participation in an education program.

This glossary of education-related terms is based on how they commonly are used in Wikipedia articles. This article contains terms starting with A – C. Select a letter from the table of contents to find terms on other articles.

Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary

Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary, also known as Trinity College of the Bible, is a conservative evangelical Bible college and seminary located near Evansville, Indiana. Trinity offers distance education programs at undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree levels for self-directed adult learners. Programs include Certificate, Associate, Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate studies. In 2006, Trinity claimed more than 7,000 active students worldwide.

The General Extension Division (GED) at the University of Florida was created by the state legislature in 1919. The General Extension Division was established as the extramural college to represent all of the state institutions of higher learning except in agriculture, home economics, and engineering. The head of extension was initially designated a director, but was later elevated to dean with the responsibility of making recommendations concerning policies, organization, staff, finance, and the development of the program. Originally, the Dean of General Extension reported solely to the President of the University of Florida, but later was accountable to all of the state's university presidents. GED's first and only dean was Bert C. Riley.

Higher education in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador has had the same growing pains as other provinces in developing its own form of education and now boasts a very strong, although relatively small, system. The direction of Newfoundland and Labrador's policy has evolved rapidly since the late 1990s, with increased funding, participation rates, accessibility and transferability. Many of the directives the government has been acting upon in the past 10 years have been a result of recommendations that stemmed from a 2005 white paper: Foundation for Success: White Paper on Public Post-Secondary Education. It set the course for furthering the strategic directives of the provincial post-secondary education sector. Some of its recommendations aimed to:

Higher education in Alberta

Higher education in Alberta refers to the post secondary education system for the province of Alberta. The Ministry of Advanced Education in Alberta oversees educational delivery through universities, publicly funded colleges, technical institutions, and private colleges. These institutions offer a variety of academic and vocational pursuits. Students have access to post-secondary options through most regions of Alberta, and a developed articulation system allows for increased student mobility.

Higher education in Prince Edward Island

Higher education in Prince Edward Island refers to education provided by higher education institutions in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. In Canada, education is the responsibility of the provinces and there is no Canadian federal ministry governing education. Prince Edward Island has one university, the University of Prince Edward Island authorized to grant degrees, and two community colleges, Holland College, which operates centres across the province, and Collège de l'Île, which offers post secondary education in French. The governing body for higher education in Prince Edward Island is the Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning, headed by the Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, the Honourable Allen Roach.

Higher education in Nunavut

Higher education in Nunavut allows residents of this Canadian Arctic territory access to specialized training provided at post-secondary institutions. There are some unique challenges faced by students wishing to pursue advanced training in Nunavut, a vast territory stretching across Arctic Canada from Hudsons Bay to the north pole. The territory was split from the Northwest Territories in 1999, following a successful plebiscite which affirmed Inuit desires to establish an independent political jurisdiction. Covering one-fifth of Canada's area and over 60% of its coastlines, the territory had a population of 31,153 in 2010.

University of Washington Continuum College

University of Washington Continuum College, formerly Educational Outreach is the continuing education and professional development unit of the University of Washington (UW), in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1912, UW Continuum College was originally the branch of the university offering correspondence courses. Today, this UW unit provides wide-ranging programs for non-traditional and lifelong learning students, including degree programs, certificate programs and select courses through UW Professional & Continuing Education, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), UW in the High School, UW Summer Quarter, UW Summer Youth, UW International & English Language Programs, Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning at the UW, and Conference Services. The programs provided are fee-based and self-sustaining and do not receive state funds for support.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is the national credit transfer system for all levels of qualifications in Scotland. The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership promotes lifelong learning in the country. Through the SCQF, learners can gain a better understanding of qualifications and plan their future learning.

North West College is a regional college with two primary campuses in Meadow Lake and North Battleford providing adult educational training in the northwest region of Saskatchewan. Covering a region of 44,000 km2, North West College is committed to rural and First Nations education. In 2017-18 North West offered programming in 21 communities including 12 First Nations.

Six Nations Polytechnic

Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) is a Haudenosaunee-owned and controlled post-secondary institution at Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation. The Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation are the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, and Tuscarora. The Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation reserve acreage at present covers some 46,000 acres (190 km2) near the city of Brantford, Ontario.

Elinor Miller Greenberg is a nationally known American expert in the field of adult education and experiential learning, as well as a speech pathologist, author, and lecturer. A former civil rights activist, she sees access to education as a social justice issue, and has spent over thirty years creating higher education programs for non-traditional students. She headed the University Without Walls program in the 1970s; created a weekend BSN program for nurses in rural Colorado; established a degree program for Colorado prison inmates and ex-offenders; and established online master's degree programs for nurses in the 1990s. She was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 2010.


  1. McLean, S. (2007). "About us: Expressing the purpose of university continuing education in Canada". Canadian Journal of University Continuing Education. 33 (2): 65–86. doi: 10.21225/D5CS3K .
  2. Kirby, D.; Curran, V.; Hollett, A. (2009). "Non-formal adult learning programs at Canadian post-secondary institutions: Trends, issues, and practices". Canadian Journal of University Continuing Education. 35 (2): 63–86. doi: 10.21225/D55P42 .
  3. Schütze, Hans G.; Slowley, Maria, eds. (2012). Global Perspectives on Higher Education and Lifelong Learners. NY, New York: Routledge. p. 75. ISBN   978-0-415-67507-9.
  4. Millard, E. (2014). "Extra credit for non-credit", University Business. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  5. "The history of continuing education at Oxford". Department for Continuing Education. University of Oxford. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  6. Jarvis, Peter. Adult Education and Lifelong Learning: Theory and Practice , p. 318 (Routledge 2004).
  7. "Our History". Archived from the original on November 9, 2013.
  8. Press, Cornell University (March 31, 1877). "Cornell Era V. 09 1876-1877" via journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. Schugurensky, Daniel. "1907: The 'Wisconsin Idea' Brings the University to the Community". History of Education: Selected Moments of the 20th Century. The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  10. UW–Extension Chancellor's Office. "Highlight History of Extension in Wisconsin 1862 to 1999". About Us. The University of Wisconsin–Extension. Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) New School Archives: Course Catalogs
  12. "Office of Distance Learning - University of Florida".
  13. "The IACET Standard: Continuing Education Units (CEUs)". International Association for Continuing Education and Training. Archived from the original on October 17, 2008. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  14. .The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 2, 2009
  15. World Bank World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work.

Further reading