As part of the Field Education program, each student commits to:

  • Explore ministerial roles and identity, work to clarify and test his or her call, build and strengthen skills for ministry
  • 40 hours per week of preparation and presence for a 10-week summer placement
  • 13-15 hours weekly of preparation and presence for a 30-week academic year placement

There are five opportunities during the M.Div. degree program to complete the two required Field Education placements:

  1. Academic Year I
  2. Summer I
  3. Academic Year II (middler year)*
  4. Summer II
  5. Academic Year III

While students are required to complete two units (credits) of Field Education, students may choose to complete up to three Divinity School-funded placements. Students may also complete their Field Education requirements through a self-initiated placement (funded or unfunded), as well as through a unit of approved Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), for a total of up to five Field Education placements.

International Field Education opportunities are also available. The program includes internships in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.

Review the Field Education Policies & Procedure Manual (pdf) to learn more about the student’s role including:

  • The Assignment Process
  • Credit Requirements
  • Unit Requirements for Field Education Placement
  • The Process for Receiving Field Education Credit
  • Reflection Group Meetings
  • Student Qualifications & Prerequisites for Placement
  • Guidelines for Student Behavior During a Field Ed Placement

Students Serving As Pastors

Students frequently serve as pastors of churches or part-time associates during their theological education at Duke Divinity School. This service may suffice for fulfillment of all field education requirements. These appointments or calls are arranged by the appropriate denominational official or body. The Divinity School recognizes this arrangement and recommends that the student consult with the Office of Field Education, as agent of the dean, before accepting an appointment as pastor or associate pastor.

The Office of Field Education cannot arrange student pastor appointments or calls. These arrangements reside within the jurisdiction of denominational authorities, and students should initiate their own arrangements. However, the Office of Field Education requires that a student submit an application for student pastor status prior to accepting a student appointment or call. In addition, only entering MDiv students or those who are in or have finished their first year of MDiv coursework are eligible to become student pastors unless prior approval is granted by the Associate Dean for Academic Formation.

Student pastors are full-time students and may enroll in no more than three courses per semester, requiring eight semesters to complete the Master of Divinity degree. Student pastors are not permitted to enroll in summer study of any kind or in Summer CPE. Relaxation of student pastor limitations on enrollment requires the permission (on the Student Pastor Overload Petition Form (PDF)) of the supervising church official, the pastor-parish or other personnel committee, the field education staff, and the associate dean for academic formation.

Student pastors are strongly and actively discouraged from attempting to commute more than 50 miles one-way on a daily basis. Extensive commuting jeopardizes the student’s academic program, health, ministry, and family life.

In keeping with the goal of the school to develop competence in ministry, student pastors should use their appointments as learning contexts. Student pastor mentoring groups, comprised of other student pastor peers and a learned pastor, meet regularly for counsel, direction, and critical theological reflection. Evaluations are required from the student pastor’s parish (and, if United Methodist, the superintendent) at the completion of the first year and third year of the student pastorate. If all of the conditions outlined for credit are met, and all evaluations are completed and filed at the appropriate time, field education credit may be extended.

In summary, the process for student pastors to receive credit for their call or appointment is: apply with the field education office, register with the appropriate student pastor code through ACES, participate in an assigned mentoring group, and submit requisite evaluation materials for two separate years of service (first and last year).