Continuing Education refers to post-graduate adult studies. Students pursuing Continuing Education have gone through the rigors of academia leading up to this stage of advanced studies. These studies can be in the form of practical training, degree classes, practical non-degree training or offsite training. Continuing Education has exponentially grown over the last decade. Self-study, workforce training, formal personal enrichment courses, personal research and online education now all fall under continuing education. Students who pursue Continuing Education courses typically are people who have graduated with a four year college degree and have completed their Basic English language skills. These students pursue further education to improve their academic credentials of perhaps enjoy learning in general.
Colleges and universities offer a variety of different courses for the Continuing Education students. Learners interested in Continuing Education enroll in community colleges as well as junior colleges. Four year colleges and universities also offer Continuing Education programs. The division or department of the school or college/university that is concerned with Continuing Education is sometimes called university extension or extension school.
The learners can opt for courses that are accredited and can lead to a diploma or certificate or can take non-credited courses for pleasure and leisure.
University of Wisconsin-Madison laid the foundations of the ideology of continuing education in 1904. Later on in 1969, Empire State College specifically focused on providing the education particularly to adult learners.
Professional Continuing Education refers to the study and education of professionals. The course curriculum is specific to the profession. The objective of the coursework and classroom environment is to facilitate learning in the professional markets. The coursework is specific to each profession and ensures that the students are updated on the latest and greatest trends in the market. The learners may be required to take the extension courses and satisfy the coursework specified by the college or university for the completion of their certificate. They may also have to attend different seminars and conferences to satisfy the needs of their specific certificate. These requirements are imposed on adult learners by licensing bodies. These requirements are imposed merely to persuade the learner. A certificate or Continuing Education units are bestowed upon the student after successfully passing the course.
The Continuing Education programs follow the same pattern as traditional educational programs and coursework. In fact the Continuing Education programs are part of the college environment and have the same structural presence as other buildings on the campus. The major difference occurs in terms of the mode of learning. Majority of the Continuing Education programs are distance learning programs. Students are provided with the course material either through mail or in the form of video tapes or video CDs containing the videos of lectures. Distance learning is mainly depended upon self studies. Apart from self studies, conference or group study may also be adopted in various programs offered by the universities. Group study or conference may include the online study networks or the seminars.