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Academic Credit for Work-Based Learning

Policy TitleAcademic Credit for Work-Based Learning
Policy CategoryCareer and Technical Education (CTED)
Policy IDCTED-003
Policy Date2000-06-01

Formerly GCS-I-003

Standard Operating Policies for All Work-based Learning Methods Receiving Academic Credit


Forms of Work-based Learning Approved for Receiving Credit

Students receiving academic credit for work-based learning experiences must participate in one of the following forms of work-based learning:

  1. High School Apprenticeships in which students are officially registered through the Department of Labor
  2. Cooperative Education through an appropriate workforce development education course
  3. Internships connected to course work in the North Carolina Standard Course of Study (paid or unpaid)

Other work-based learning experiences do not receive academic credit.

 Academic Credit

Students participating in high school apprenticeships, cooperative education or internships (paid/unpaid) will earn academic credit based upon the number of hours spent in the workplace and required projects (similar to senior projects/portfolios). Local Education Agencies may increase the hourly requirements consistently for all forms of work-based learning. Policy on the minimum number of hours required is provided in the chart below.



On-the-job/Work-based Experience Required

Credit Earned for Work-based Component

4 x 4 Block (Semester)


1 Carnegie Unit

A-B Day



1 Carnegie Unit

Traditional (Year-long)


1 Carnegie Unit


Overall Requirements for All Forms of Work-based Learning

  • Work-based learning experiences must be documented on a student's Career Development Plan to ensure that the student is placed according to his/her career goals.
  • Students receiving credit for work-based learning methods of instruction must complete an official agreement among the school, business partner, student and parent/guardian stipulating the requirements and responsibilities of all involved.
  • Students desiring to earn academic credit for work-based learning experience outside the academic year must follow the same policies and guidelines required during a regular school year.
  • Students cannot receive academic credit by providing school services such as bus driver, cafeteria worker, office assistant, or teacher assistant. 
  • Schools shall not allow early work release during the school day for students participating in any other forms of work experience, such as a part-time job, unsupervised by the school. 
  • Multiple academic credits may not be given for the same work-based experience. For example, a student cannot simultaneously receive academic credit for any two forms of work-based learning.

 Additional Requirements for Specific Work-based Learning Methods

 High School Apprenticeship

High school apprenticeship must follow all guidelines determined by Administrative Code, State Law, and Federal Law, as well as the following:

  • Registration by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.
  • Standards of Apprenticeship by which each program operates. These standards are adjusted to meet the needs of each employer.
  • A work process, which is a document that lists all the skills an apprentice will be learning and the number of hours required for each skill during the course of the experience.
  • A schedule of related instruction listing all related courses that must be completed by the apprentice.
  • A progressive wage scale must be followed for the apprentice, increasing as the skill levels of the apprentice develop.

 Cooperative Education

  • Students must be enrolled in a workforce development education (vocational and technical education) course offering the cooperative method. The following five program areas offer the cooperative education method of instruction:
    1. Agricultural Education
    2. Business Education
    3. Family and Consumer Sciences Education
    4. Marketing Education
    5. Trade and Industrial Education


  • A signed training agreement must be on file for each cooperative education student. This agreement must outline the responsibilities of all parties involved.
  •  A training plan must be developed for each cooperative education student.
  • Classroom instruction and coordination activities must be provided by a licensed teacher in the content area.
  • Teacher/coordinators must be provided twenty-five minutes per week per student for the coordination of cooperative education activities. Extended contracts may be used to provide the required time needed to complete this function.
  • Students who would like to continue to earn academic credit for their cooperative work-based experience in the school term following a successful classroom experience may do so during the same academic school year (summer, fall, spring), provided:
      • The teacher-coordinator approves the student as a cooperative education placement for the school term.
      • A teacher-coordinator is available to provide coordination of work-based learning.
      • All coordination policies are followed.
      • A training agreement is on file for the student.
      • The student is following a progressive training plan.

 Paid and Unpaid Internships

  • All interns must be supervised by a licensed teacher who has an appropriate background for creating placements and supervising interns.
  • A written agreement must be developed among the school, student, parents, and the participating business describing the responsibilities of all parties. This document must be signed by all parties involved and maintained on file. Each party must have a copy of this document.
  • A written program of work must be developed for each intern, outlining the goals of the internship, the competencies to be mastered by the intern, and the strategies to be employed to achieve the goals of the internship.
  • At the completion of the internship, each intern must submit a written report/project documenting the competencies gained through the experience. The school and the participating business must evaluate the project to make a collaborative decision concerning the intern's grade for the internship experience.

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