In adult continuing education, the term CEU provides a standard for identifying the amount of time that is to be devoted to a learning project or activity ( Contact and involvement time is quantified into CEUs. A Continuing Education Unit is defined as 10 contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship and qualified instruction. Continuing education, as used in this definition, includes all learning experiences in structured formats that impart noncredit education to post-secondary-level learners. The number of units to be awarded is determined by considering the number of contact hours of instruction and supervised learning activities.

Reasonable allowance is made for activities such as required readings, written reports, field activities, and guided study. Learners are awarded CEUs for activities that range from attending conferences and seminars to participating in structured classes (residence or online) or guided studies. The number of CEUs given will depend upon the number of contact hours (60 minute periods) between a learner and facilitator and the amount of additional complementary learning activities.

Applying the rule that 10 contact hours equals one Continuing Education Unit, a learner who attends a seminar that meets on a Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (with an hour off for lunch) and then on Saturday, 9:00 am to noon will qualify for 1 CEU. In a different situation, someone taking an online course that meets 10 times, one hour each time, and involves an additional twenty hours of learning activities outside of class, gets 3 CEUs.

As a guideline, a minimum of 5 Continuing Education Units is recommended for verification of a competency being achieved in each area. This guideline may be modified or waived by the candidate’s supervisory team where they are able to judge that a competency has been met based on evidences that are provided by the candidate and filed in the candidate’s e-portfolio.

For purposes of comparison to formal, classroom education, a Credit Hour is the equivalent of one hour (50 minutes) of lecture time (or other teacher-student contact time) for a single student per week over the course of a semester, usually 14 weeks, and two hours of study outside of class for each hour (50 minutes) in class. A student taking a two hour course will typically meet for 28 fifty minute classes (or a total of 700 minutes) and complete 56 hours of work outside of class (or a total of 1400 minutes). Therefore a two hour class can be said to require about 94 academic hours (50 minute periods) of work.

If a formal approach to education were being proposed, the next step would be to identify college or seminary courses to be taken either as a resident student or through distance learning. A non-formal, adult education approach provides flexibility for the candidate to meet the necessary competencies while remaining in ministry. A candidate’s program may be brief with only a few competencies needing to be met.

The program may also recognize college or seminary courses as evidences of competencies, or there may be a combination of formal and non-formal learning experiences. In fact, it is recommended that undergraduate and graduate courses be built into plans for lifelong learning. Characteristically, when individuals and members of their training plan team meet, the resulting plan has a preponderance of small group and guided learning projects.