Difference Between Units & Credits

Nurses are often required to take continuing education classes to show development of their skills.
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Credits are the number of hours needed to complete a college degree, and units are awarded for participation in a continuing education program. The terms “credits” and “units” are sometimes used interchangeably, which creates confusion.

1 Credits Vs. CEUs

Credits are applied toward an associate, bachelor's or master's degree. Most college classes award students three credits upon their completion. Full-time undergraduate students complete 12 or more credits per semester, whereas full-time graduate students complete nine or more per semester. Continuing education units, or CEUs, applied toward certifications or professional development requirements. One CEU is obtained after an individual completes 10 hours of contact study under a qualified instructor. Noncredit courses and contract training are examples of CEUs. CEUs are designed to enhance knowledge and skills in an individual’s current profession.

2 Transferring CEUs to Credits

Because CEUs are noncredit courses and don't equal the same length of study as credit courses, they cannot be transferred to college credits. Whereas CEUs only require 10 hours of contact study, credits require 40 or more hours of study. For instance, a teacher taking a CEU course in teaching methods might attend the class for two hours every week over the course of five weeks to obtain a unit. A teacher taking a credit in teaching methods, however, might have to attend class three hours every week for 15 weeks. Although CEUs don't require as much contact study or go toward degrees, individuals whose professional portfolios show completion of CEUs might have advantages when seeking job promotions, additional certification and more career opportunities.

Kayla Lowe has been a writer since 2007. Lowe is the author of "Maiden's Blush," a Christian fiction romance novel. She studied English and Business Administration at both Austin Peay State University and the University of Phoenix. Lowe has written for various online publications, including Yahoo!