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Policy 2301
Continuing Education UNDER REVIEW

Date of Current Revision: May 1998
Primary Responsible Officer: Vice President, University Relations and External Programs


The mission of the Office of Continuing Education (OCE) is to utilize available technology to extend the resources of the university community to citizens in order to provide continuing professional development and outreach services that enhance personal development of individuals and stimulate economic development.

Many people have educational needs but cannot or do not desire to attend college on a full-time or a degree-seeking basis. Therefore, the OCE is responsible as a coordinating entity to a variety of instructional products both on and off campus to meet the continuing education needs of the workforce. These products include but are not limited to: professional development planning services, graduate and undergraduate credit courses, credit and noncredit certificate programs, custom-designed courses, contract courses, packaged programs, and external degree programs.

Educators can obtain in-service training by taking courses designed for licensure and relicensure or credit towards a graduate degree in selected professional fields. The OCE also offers a variety of camps, conferences and seminars to people of all ages and educational backgrounds, often in collaboration with academic departments or other University outreach service units. These offerings vary from year to year depending on customer service requests.

In addition, the OCE facilitates instructional courses and programs that are not funded through a departmental or summer school budget. Among these programs are a variety of grant-supported products, certificate programs, and external degree programs. Some non-credit instructional products award Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) as a means of consistently measuring workforce development. More specific information can be obtained from the OCE Service Delivery Manual.


In order to fulfill its mission, the OCE offers a variety of University supported credit courses and programs. The University assumes responsibility for these instructional products and supports them by expending the necessary funds and resources to sustain them.

University supported credit courses and programs are defined as on- or off-campus credit products planned and funded by a University academic department/school that supports the mission of the University. Course and program requests for all University supported credit products must be submitted to the OCE for processing and approval (OCE Form # 001). When approved, the course or program will be offered through the OCE in conjunction with the appropriate department/school within the respective college or administrative division of JMU.

Off-campus Credit Offerings - In order to assess the varied needs and reduce course duplication in the region, the James Madison University OCE voluntarily coordinates and conducts regional planning meetings for school divisions and higher education institutions every fall and spring. Visits are regularly made to area businesses and several network affiliations with human resource directors are maintained throughout the year.

It is possible for any course listed in the current JMU catalog to be offered off-campus, as long as approval from the appropriate Department Head/School Director, Dean, and the Director of OCE has been received. Accreditation and enrollment requirements must also be met. Generally, lower level courses are offered by community colleges. Please refer to the OCE Service Delivery Manual for specific procedures to make course program requests.

Service Region - As a regional comprehensive university, JMU has traditionally focused on serving the needs of the citizens of the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont region of Virginia. The JMU service region is defined as the counties of Augusta, Bath, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Greene, Highland, Madison, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Warren, and the cities of Buena Vista, Culpeper, Front Royal, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Manassas, Manassas Park, Staunton, Warrenton, Waynesboro, and Winchester. These are generally the regional counties and cities where the majority of service requests have originated.

New information technologies have expanded the traditional service region of JMU to other regions of Virginia, the United States, and the World. Instructional delivery over the Internet and through interactive audio-video classrooms, such as the Commonwealth Classroom, have greatly enhanced the potential for the OCE to deliver instructional products to a much larger audience.

On-campus Credit Offerings - Many JMU departments utilize the OCE to implement credit programs on campus. These programs are often exploratory special offerings, grant-funded courses, custom-designed courses, courses that are added too late to qualify as regular on-campus courses, and courses requested by departments due to financial constraints. On-campus courses should not be administered through the OCE more than once every 3 years unless they are exploratory, grant-funded, custom-designed, or urgently needed courses.

Both off-campus and on-campus credit courses must comply and conform to the OCE's course request and approval procedure. They must also comply with the OCE's registration process and assessment and evaluation procedures.

The OCE encourages and supports faculty members who seek external funds. These external funds often have unique provisions and do not conform to the University's calendar. Therefore, the OCE is a common partner in the implementation of courses that are grant-funded. The OCE works closely with the Office of Sponsored Programs to facilitate the administration of grant-funded courses. Instructors indicate on the Course Request Form (OCE Form # 001) if a planned course is to be grant-funded and the items that the external funds will be supporting. Such courses must comply and conform to the course request and approval procedures, registration processes, and evaluation procedures of the OCE. Tuition may be reduced in certain cases if no Education and General Funds are used to pay instructor compensation, travel, subsistence, course materials or other directly related instructional costs.

A faculty member may choose to be paid the same rate to teach a grant-funded course through the OCE as to teach a regular summer school course (if the Academic Affairs summer school rate is higher than the OCE's rate for that rank and year).

Noncredit instructional products enhance the goals and objectives of the University, and may be conducted on- or off-campus as part of the University’s outreach service program. Noncredit programs may offer Continuing Education Units (CEU’s). Instructors/coordinators of these programs must complete the Noncredit Instructional Program Proposal (OCE Form # 025) in order to initiate the reporting process. A content outline or syllabus and a program evaluation instrument must accompany the noncredit proposal. The noncredit program instructor must provide the OCE with an authenticated list of successful participants before CEU certificates can be issued. The OCE is the only office that may approve the awarding of CEU’s for a University supported offering.

Supported Noncredit Programs
University-Supported Noncredit Instructional Programs are conducted on- or off-campus as a part of the University’s instructional or public service programs. These programs are assigned a continuing education account number from the Accounting and Reporting Operations Office, and remuneration is determined by participant fees and paid from the specific account number. The sponsoring department is responsible for account shortfalls or excess revenues. Please refer to the OCE Service Delivery Manual for specific information on the request and reporting process for university-supported noncredit instructional programs.

The following is the noncredit instructional program approval routing process:

Program Sponsor
Coordinator: Noncredit and Outreach Programs
Director: Office of Continuing Education (for review)
Department Heads of Academic Units
Deans of Academic Colleges
Accounting & Reporting Operations (University Supported Only)
Director of Special Events (if applicable)
Director: Office of Continuing Education (final approval)
Endorsed Noncredit Programs

University-Endorsed Noncredit Instructional Programs are those which enhance the goals and objectives of the University but for which the University assumes no financial or other responsibilities. Most summer sports camps qualify as university-endorsed Instructional Programs. Remuneration for endorsed non-credit programs is not paid from any account since there is no employee/employer relationship. The name James Madison University may be used only in the title as the location of the program. State funds may not be used for developing or advertising university-endorsed programs. Please refer to the OCE Service Delivery Manual for specific information on the request and reporting process for university-endorsed noncredit instructional programs.

Other University supported public service programs include the non-degree special student program that allows a student not enrolled in a degree-seeking capacity to enroll in credit courses, as long as the student meets specified criteria. Criteria are described in more detail in the OCE Service Delivery Manual.

A student enrolled for credit courses who is not presently seeking a degree is classified as a special student. These special students may register for classes but are not admitted to any undergraduate program or to the Graduate School. This classification applies to students who enroll for day and/or evening classes, on or off campus. Individuals wishing to take courses as a special student must complete the Special Student Application Form (OCE Form # 003 or 008). An application fee must be submitted with appropriate supporting documentation each semester the student wishes to take classes as a special student.

Special Students by definition have not been admitted to a degree program at James Madison University. The taking of courses as a special student does not imply later applicability of these courses toward a program, or imply preferential regular admission consideration. Special students who subsequently seek admission to work toward a degree, will have courses taken in "special" status evaluated to determine their applicability toward the degree sought. Non-degree undergraduate students may only take up to 24 credit hours while enrolled in special status. BIS special students are allowed to take up to 30 credit hours in special status.

An individual who has been academically dismissed from any institution because of low academic standing or who has been denied regular degree-seeking admission to JMU must wait for a period of at least one calendar year before enrolling as a special student. Also to qualify as an adult special student there must be an interruption of at least two years in the student's formal education.

Special students must qualify for one of the following categories (Please refer to the OCE Service Delivery Manual for specific descriptions):

Adult special
BIS special
High school special
International special
Post-baccalaureate special
Post-masters special
Senior citizen special
Special audit special
Term special
Transient special

Approved May 1, 1998 by Linwood H. Rose, President