Not all Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are created equal. The term "CEU" is in the public domain. It is used by many organizations for their continuing education or professional training hours. However, these are not true IACET CEUs.

Hand writing the word 'Education' with a blue highlighter


How can organizations deliver – and adult learners receive - the continuing education required to maintain professional memberships, certification or licensing? How can records of these educational experiences be effectively accumulated, updated and transferred?

Read below to discover how the CEU answers these questions and how it is calculated. We also give you some background on the IACET CEU and why its higher standard is important.  Want to keep learning? Subscribe to IACET's bi-monthly newsletter, The CET Connection.

The Continuing Education Unit or CEU was created and defined in 1970 after IACET and the U.S. Department of Education task force studied the measurement of non-credit continuing education activities. The continuing education unit (CEU) was designed to:

  • Provide a standard unit of measurement for continuing education and training,
  • Quantify continuing education and training (CE/T) activities, and
  • Accommodate for the diversity of providers, activities, and purposes in adult education.

The IACET and U.S. Department of Education task force defined the CEU standard of measurement as:

1 CEU = 10 contact hours

of participation in an organized CE/T experience, delivered under responsible sponsorship, capable direction and qualified instruction. CEUs can often be converted into other measurements, such as Professional Development Hours or Continuing Education Credits, depending on the organization and/or regulating body.

Download IACET's "How To Calculate CEUs" Guide (PDF)

Note: Many organizations convert CEUs to PDHs, CPC, CECs, or other units of measurement. Some higher education institutions will accept CEUs. Please check their pages for the specific acceptance and/or conversion ratios as they can vary.

IACET is the caretaker of the CEU. We maintain and refine the Continuing Education Unit. The association educates organizations, trainers, teachers and learners through our programs, publications, and industry research (example: Skills, Challenges and Trends in Instructional Design).

And In 1998, the "IACET CEU" designation was born as part of our Accredited Provider Program (which was established in 1991). As we mentioned earlier on the page, the term CEU is commonly used (like Kleenex for tissue). Our IACET CEU ensures that a Standard of learning is in place. Only Accredited Providers, or APs, who have been approved by the IACET Commission are allowed to award IACET CEUs.

It gives you, the adult education student, confidence in an organization's education or training program. As an IACET Accredited Provider, their training adheres to the ANSI/IACET Standard for Continuing Education and Training. Their CE/T program's policies and processes have met all ten elements of the ANSI/IACET Standard. The IACET CEU assures employers, credentialing associations, licensing bodies and others that a learner has completed a quality training program which meets THE national standard for continuing education and training.

Subscribe to the bi-monthly CET Connection to get the latest news from IACET and the CE/T industry.


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