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Howard Community College - Continuing Education

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General Information - Continuing Education

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, please see the most commonly asked questions that we receive about Continuing Education at Howard Community College. Simply click on the question you are interested in below to reveal the answer.


At Howard Community College, "continuing education" means noncredit instruction, also popularly known as "lifelong learning" or "adult education."  It does NOT mean graduate school or credit degree programs.  The courses are designed for personal and professional enrichment and are offered in many different timespans.  Unlike traditional credit degree-based courses that run throughout an entire season, noncredit classes are usually quicker, running from a few hours to a few months.  They are open to nearly all age groups, from youth of ages 7-17 (in the Kids On Campus classes) to senior citizens.


Where, how, and when can I obtain a brochure?

Noncredit Schedule of Classes:  Our quarterly brochure is mailed out to all Howard County residences in March, May, August, and November.  If you live outside Howard County, call 443-518-4823 to have your name added to the mailing list.  You can also pick up brochures on the main campus at the Office of Admissions and Enrollment or at the Welcome Center, as well as at the Welcome Center in the Hickory Ridge Building.

Other Brochures:  For information about Adult Basic Education flier, call 443-518-4919. For our English As a Second Language brochure, call 443-518-1680. For our Kids on Campus brochure, call 443-518-4110.


How do I find out whether a class has been canceled?
Weather closings are announced on all the major local radio and television news stations, posted on the college's home page, and available by calling the college's main line at 443-518-1000. Weather closing policies can be viewed on our Weather Closings page.

If a class is canceled because of under-enrollment, you will be notified by phone or mail up to a few days before the class is due to start.

If a class is canceled because of instructor illness, a sign will be posted on or near the classroom door.  If the instructor gives us sufficient notice of an absence, you will be notified earlier, by phone or email.  As illness and family emergencies can arise quickly and unexpectedly, we regret that we cannot always give prior notice of class cancellation.


Which computer course should I take?
First, try to evaluate what you think your level of ability is: are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced?  Then look at the courses in which you are interested and see whether they mention prerequisites: if they do, have you taken those prerequisites, or do you have the equivalent experience and knowledge?  If you're still unsure which course is right for you, call 443-518-4680.

Do you offer computer certification courses?
Yes. We offer Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS), and Project Management Professional (PMP).  Courses are listed under "Computers and Information Technology" in the noncredit classes (schedule of classes) brochure.

Is it possible to get a job after taking one of the entry-level career courses such as Certified Nursing Assistant, Phlebotomy Technician, Pharmacy Technician, or Child Care Training?
Yes.  These courses provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary for seeking employment in such fields, as well as many others.  For example, many students who take our Pharmacy Technician course find jobs with local pharmacies; many students who take our child care courses begin careers or get promoted at child care centers, and so on.  For information on these courses, call 443-518-4944. or 443-518-4474.  The college cannot guarantee job placement.  In some cases, students who successfully complete the Certified Nursing Assistant course qualify for guaranteed jobs at various local hospitals and health care organizations.  For more information, call 443-518-4967 or email


May I receive college credit for continuing education courses?
No.  However, Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and certificates are available for many courses.  If a course qualifies for CEU credit, it will be noted in the course description.

What are CEUs?
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are nationally recognized measures of lifelong learning credit (not degree credit) and are based on the number of contact hours taken for a course.  CEUs cannot be applied toward a degree program, but they can be useful in maintaining certification or licensure in certain careers.  They may also be useful in documenting continuing professional education for an employer.  Criteria for CEUs vary and are usually based on attendance or competencies or both.

Is it possible to take a credit course as a noncredit student?
Yes, any course in the credit course schedule, with a few exceptions, can be taken as a noncredit course through the CustomClass option.  CustomClass gives noncredit students the opportunity to sit in on the same classes with the same instructors as regular credit students.  Tests and course assignments are optional in most cases, and no grade or transcript is received.  The tuition costs are based on the number of credit hours for the course as stated in the credit course schedule, plus fees where applicable.  No application fee is required.  Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and/or certificates of completion are available.  For more information on CustomClass, email or call 443-518-4659.

How do I get my GED high school equivalency diploma?
You must pass the state GED examination given by the Maryland State Department of Education.  The test is given on the second weekend of every month.  Howard County residents are automatically assigned to the closest testing center, located at Catonsville Community College, unless they specify otherwise on the registration form.  Questions about the state exam may be referred to the MSDE/GED office at 410-767-0538.  If you would like to take a practice test, our Adult Basic Education Office offers the official GED Practice Test, which can be scheduled by emailing for an appointment.  The test takes approximately 3-4 hours and costs $20.

If you want to brush up on your skills before taking the exam, our Adult Basic Education classes include a 12-week GED preparation course three times a year (fall, winter, and spring).

What is the External Diploma Program?
The External Diploma Program (EDP) is an alternative way to achieve high school completion for persons 18 years of age and older.  There is no classroom instruction involved.  You meet once a week with an advisor to build skills, and you must demonstrate 65 life skill competencies to receive a diploma.  This is a self-paced program that takes six months to a year to complete.  Registration for the EDP consists of reading, writing, and math prescreening to assess your skills.  Email or call 443-518-4747 to make an appointment for a prescreening.

What certification courses do you offer?
Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS)
Oracle Certified Assistant (OCA)
Project Management Professional (PMP)
Pharmacy Technician
Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)


What is CustomClass?
It's the noncredit way to take most of the credit courses listed in the credit schedule of classes.  CustomClass students sit in the same class as credit students; however, they are enrolled as noncredit or continuing education students.  The CustomClass student receives the same instruction but does not get a grade/transcript.  For more information, see our CustomClass page.


Is financial aid available for continuing education courses?
Yes.  Limited funds are available for Howard County residents who meet the eligibility criteria.  See our financial aid page for more information.

How do I make a contribution to an educational fund for noncredit students?
A special fund has been established to receive tax-deductible contributions for those in need of financial assistance for noncredit courses.  Please make a check payable to the HCC Educational Foundation designating the "Phelps Endowment," and mail it to Howard Community College, Continuing Education/Workforce Development Division, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044-3197.

Do I have to pay tuition when I register, or could you bill me?
Tuition payment is due in full at time of registration.

How do I change courses (transfer) or request a refund?
If you need to change your Continuing Education/Noncredit course selection, please contact us immediately.  All continuing education courses are offered satisfaction-guaranteed and we can assist you to transfer to another course or process a refund.  In most instances, if we receive notification before a class begins, you will receive 100 percent of tuition and fees (exceptions are noted in specific course descriptions).  Once a class starts, tuition (not fees) is refunded. Refunds are not available after a class has ended.  Transfers are usually permitted before the second class meeting. The quickest and most convenient way to fill out our Transfer/Refund Request form. You can also phone (call 443-518-1700), fax (443-518-4333) , write (Division of Continuing Education, Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patxuent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044, Attn:  Transfers and Refunds), or use the “Drop a Course” option on HCC Express. You will need to include name, student identification number, address, home and business phone numbers, and course number, name, section number, and class start date.  Allow enough time for letters or faxes to reach us before class begins.  If you are dissatisfied with a course, call 443-518-1700 or email jlepore and the appropriate coordinator will help you.


I am a manager/supervisor/procurement officer for the federal government. Can I arrange training for my staff through GSA Advantage and your institution?
Yes! You can view our capabilities on our GSA page, and call Sharrie Hornak at 443-518-4459 for more information.


Where are you located and what are your office hours?
Our main offices are in Suite 100 of the Hickory Ridge Building, 10650 Hickory Ridge Road, which is on the college's main campus at 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044-3197.  Our normal business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday–Friday.

On Monday through Thursday evenings from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., an administrative aide is on duty at the Hickory Ridge Building Welcome Desk (first floor hallway).


Where may I park, and do I need a sticker?
On campus, you may park in any of the student lots (sticker or special permit not necessary).  However, please observe the posted signs and do not park in the lots designated for faculty or staff, as your vehicle may be ticketed and towed.  At off-campus class locations such as a high school or the senior center, you may park in any unrestricted lots.


Why do I need a placement test before I register for some of the ABE, GED, and ESL classes?
The test enables us to ensure that you get registered for the right class for your personal level of ability. The test is not graded and the results are confidential; it is used only to match you to the right class so that you won't waste your time and money in a class that is too elementary or too advanced for you.

How do I go about getting a placement test?
Please come in person to the Hickory Ridge Building at the specific dates and times stated in the current noncredit classes brochure.  The registration process takes about 45 minutes to an hour and involves placement testing in reading, writing, and math for ABE and GED.  For ESL students, placement testing will involve English oral and listening skills.


Do I need to apply for admission to take a continuing education course?
No.  There is no formal admission process; however, you do need to register, which means you'll need to fill out our registration form and pay for the course.  Please see below for details.

How do I register for a continuing education course?
Choose from four easy options:

ONLINE:  NOTE: for your own security, do NOT use email to register: use our secure website. Visit the web at and follow the directions, having your course and credit card information handy (available daily 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.).  If you are a current or returning student and your correct email address is not in our system, please call 443-518-4825 and provide  us with that information; your email address is required for HCC Express. For questions about HCC Express passwords, call HCC's Help Desk at 443-518-4444.  For questions about logins, call 443-518-4825. Your login is a combination of your first initial, the first seven letters of your last name, all in lowercase, and the last four digits of your student ID number. The student ID number appears on your confirmation letters from previous registrations.  Only students who have taken classes in the last five years have an account.  If you're a new student, HCC Express will prompt you to provide your address and other information.  After you have registered, you will receive a confirmation with your student ID number and password.

BY FAX:  Fax your registration form AND credit card information (REQUIRED) for Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover (including account number and expiration date) to 443-518-4333.   Allow two days for processing.

IN PERSON:  Register at the college's main Registration Office in the Student Services Building Room 233 from 8:45 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday–Thursday, and from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays.  You may pay by credit card, cash, check, or money order.

BY MAIL:  At least two weeks before class starts, send a completed registration form with your credit card information (including number and expiration date) OR a check to Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy Ste, Columbia, MD 21044-3197, ATTN Lock Box Cashier RCF 220.  Please be aware that registration by mail is the slowest method and some classes fill quickly, therefore you may lose your chance to get into the class you really want.  Therefore, we urge you to register by fax, phone, or in person if possible.

If we receive your registration at least seven days before class starts, you will receive a confirmation in the mail.

Note: For some English as a second language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), and GED courses, you must register in person at the Hickory Ridge Building.  See the current noncredit classes brochure (schedule of classes) for dates and times of placement testing and registration.

When does registration for continuing education classes begin?
As soon as a course is published online or in print, you may register.  Registration for continuing education courses is an ongoing process as new courses are beginning all the time.  At any given time, there will be a number of classes for which you can register—and in many cases up to the day before the class starts.  Many of our classes are popular and fill quickly, so the sooner you register, the better.  The online, fax, walk-in, and TouchTone registration options are the fastest.  Mail registration is the slowest option and may take up to a week.

What is the last day to register?
Registration for most continuing education courses continues up until the class is filled or begins.  Please register early as some courses fill rapidly, while other courses may have to be canceled if we do not receive enough registrations in time to run the course.  If you register by mail, we strongly recommend doing so at least a week before the class starts.  Special registration procedures exist for some allied health, license renewal, ABE, and ESL courses.

May I register by mail for the GED, English as a second language (ESL), or Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses?
For most courses, no.  To ensure you get into the right class for your level of ability, you need to meet with a counselor for placement.  Please register in person at the Hickory Ridge Building at the specific dates and times stated in the current noncredit classes brochure (schedule of classes).  The registration process takes about 45 minutes to an hour and involves placement testing in reading, writing, and math for ABE and GED.  ESL students need to take oral and listening placement tests.  Mail-in registration is available only for advanced-level courses and only if the course number and index number are listed next to the course title.

I registered by mail and have not received confirmation. Am I in the class?
If  your registration is received at least a week before the course begins, you will receive a written confirmation.  If you don't hear from us, you can confirm registration by contacting the Division of Continuing Education Office at 443-518-4825 or 443-518-4823.  You must supply the course name, course number, section number, and your 
HCC Student Identification number or Social Security number before we can release this information.  You can also check your class schedule online using HCC Express.

I mailed in my registration—may I receive a receipt?
You must specifically request a receipt from the HCC Finance Office at 443-518-4758.

How can I find out if a class is full before I register?
If you register online via HCC Express, you will be able to see on-screen whether a class still has seat openings available.  If you're registering by other methods, you can call the Division of Continuing Education Office at 443-518-4825 or 443-518-1700.  Our staff will inform you whether the class is "open" or "filled" at the time of your call.  However, keep in mind that as registration is ongoing, a class could fill at any time.

Is it possible to transfer from one section of a course to another?
Transfers are acceptable as long as neither course has started and the new section is open; otherwise, permission from the course coordinator is necessary.  Call 443-518-1700.

Is it possible to transfer between two different courses?
Yes.  Transfers are acceptable as long as neither course has started and the new course is open; otherwise, permission is needed from the course coordinator.  Please use our Transfer and Refund Request Form to make the change. If the cost of the courses differs, you will either receive a refund for the course with a lesser tuition, or in the case of a greater tuition amount, you will receive a bill from the continuing education business office.

Is it possible for me to register my child for a continuing education course?
Yes, but only for Kids On Campus courses, open to youth of ages 7-17. 


Do you offer courses and programs for seniors?
Yes, in our category called "60 Plus."  In the back of each quarterly noncredit classes schedule brochure, you will find descriptions of our "60 Plus" courses.  Seniors may also register for any other adult course in the brochure as well.  The college also sponsors an annual Senior Adult Summer Institute (SASI) and participates in the annual Howard County Seniors Expo.  For more information, visit our general information page for seniors or email, or call 443-518-4972.

How much do seniors pay for a continuing education course?
If you are 60 years of age or older, or retired from the workforce by reason of total and permanent disability, and enroll in a course that is eligible for state support (any course that does NOT have an XE prefix in the course number or a waiver disclaimer), your tuition is waived.  You pay only for the fees, including a $40 registration fee per course plus any materials, supplies, lab, or other fees mentioned in the course description.


Do I need a student identification card?
No. A college identification card is not required for continuing education students. However, having an ID card entitles you to certain benefits. Students who pay $125 or more in noncredit tuition and fees for the current credit semester are eligible for a student ID card for that semester.  To get an ID card, bring an official College letter or receipt showing College ID number and payment of $125 or more for the current semester to the Security Department on the first floor of the RCF Building.  ID holders will be admitted during the current credit semester to the athletic center and weight room (must be 18 or older) and receive discounts on those Horowitz Center events that offer student discounts.  ID holders who want access to the library and open computer labs should call 443-518-1700, provide a student ID number, and request a special log-in which will be mailed.  You will be asked to show your student ID when using the facilities or requesting a discount.  Any Howard County resident can purchase six-month, one-month, and day Athletic Center passes at the Cashier.  The handicapped entrance on the side of the Athletic and Fitness Center requires a special card.  If you need access to that door because of special accommodations, please notify the Division of Education in writing two weeks before the first class.  The Athletic and Fitness Center will provide a special access card that is valid until the class session is over.  That card must be returned at the end of class session.  There is a $25 fee if the card is lost.


Do I need to buy textbooks or supplies for my classes?
For some of them, yes.  Courses with a (T) or an (S) following the course description in the brochure indicate a required textbook or supplies.  Textbooks are available in the HCC Bookstore and may also be purchased online at that site. 


How do I know if a continuing education class is canceled due to weather conditions?
For classes held on the main campus in any of its buildings, including Hickory Ridge, college weather closings are announced on the following radio and television stations:

WBAL Channel 7, WJZ Channel 13, WRC Channel 4, WUSA Channel 9, WBFF Fox 45
AM: WWRC AM 570, WWDC AM 1260, WBAL AM 1090, WTOP AM 1500, WOLB AM 1010
FM: WASH FM 97.1, WMZQ FM 98.7, WGAY FM 99.5, WZBA 100.7, WLIF FM 101.9, WWMX FM 106.5, WQSR FM 105.7, WPGC FM 95.5, WPOC FM 93.1, WTOP FM 107.7, WWIN FM 95.9

If your class is held at a local public school and the Howard County public school system closes, your class will not meet.

If the weather worsens after day classes end or on the weekend, call the Howard Community College main number at 443-518-1000 for updated information.

Classes scheduled at the Gateway Building usually follow the closing schedule of the college.  However, there may be exceptions in the case of company-sponsored and customized training for businesses.  In those cases, please clarify the weather closing policy for your specific course in advance with your instructor or group leader.

For classes at Laurel College Center, follow the radio/TV announcements for Prince George's Community College or call toll-free 1-866-228-6110.



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