SDCE offers noncredit career technical education; adult basic education and basic college preparation; life enrichment programs; general interest fee-based community education classes; and customized contract training classes designed for the business sector. Continuing Education serves approximately 40,000 students per year through its seven campuses: CE at Mesa College, CE at Miramar College, Cesar Chavez, the Educational Cultural Complex (ECC), Mid-City, North City and West City; it also conducts programming at various other off-campus sites throughout San Diego. SDCE is diverse: it is co-educational, multi-generational and multi-ethnic. It has a semester-based academic calendar with an added summer session as a regular part of its offerings.
San Diego Continuing Education in San Diego began in 1914 when the Board of Education of the San Diego City Schools authorized free night classes for adults in areas such as elementary and secondary basic skills and citizenship instruction. After World War II, adult high school classes were offered to returning veterans. In 1970 a separate community college district was established under a local governing board. In the mid-1970s, more than 100,000 adults were enrolled including Southeast Asian refugees—this gave rise to the large English as a Second Language (ESL) program that is the largest program in SDCE. Today, SDCE is the largest institution of its kind in the nation with a wide and varied curriculum.