Course of Study for Ordained Ministry
The Course of Study for Ordained Ministry has been established by the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church as an alternate educational route for persons seeking to serve as pastors in United Methodist congregations. Leadership Education at Duke Divinity cooperates with the board to offer the course of study program each summer and on a part-time basis on weekends throughout the academic year. Course instructors include faculty and staff of the Divinity School and other universities and institutions. University course credit is not granted.
Which Course of Study is right for you?
- Full-time local pastors are required by the Board of Higher Education and Ministry to attend summer session courses. They may attend weekend courses on an exceptional basis only with the permission of their Annual Conference local pastor registrar and the Course of Study Director.
- Part-time local pastors may attend weekend or summer sessions.
- Advanced courses, for pastors who have completed the basic course of study and are seeking ordination in full connection, are offered in the summer session only.
Course of Study Tracks & Information
Weekend Course of Study
Weekend Sessions for Course of Study for Ordained Ministry are designed for part-time local pastors who cannot attend the month-long summer program. Classes meet for three consecutive weekends (Friday 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. and Saturday 8:00 a.m. – noon) at the Divinity School. Students complete one course in each weekend session and complete one year of study by completing all four weekend sessions.
Summer Course of Study
Summer Session for Course of Study for Ordained Ministry students must be on the campus of Duke University for the full four-week session. Students enroll in four courses during each session and complete one year of study each summer session.
Classes meet Monday – Friday at the Divinity School. Please be aware that although classes do not meet on Saturdays and Sundays, students are STRONGLY encouraged to remain a part of the Duke Course of Study community on the weekends. It is important to remain at Duke during those times because weekends are a valuable time for study and fellowship, which contributes to the Course of Study experience.
The Course of Study proposes to prepare spiritual and prophetic pastoral leaders for the church. Such leadership is never developed in the abstract but rather in context. The Course of Study curriculum is designed to provide classroom learning that can then be used to improve the pastoral leaders ministry.
COS 111: Pastor as Interpreter of the Bible
Introduction to the role of the United Methodist pastor in Biblical interpretation. Attention is given to the formation and function of the canon and to the development of a methodology of interpretation consistent with the nature of scripture. The importance of the Bible as a witness to the life and faith of ancient Israel and earliest Christianity is illustrated from a survey of representative biblical materials.
COS 112: Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit
Consideration of the role and responsibility of the pastor as an interpreter of the gospel with emphasis upon our Wesleyan heritage and the students own growing sense of theological identity. Basic terms, tasks, and methods of Christian theology are introduced, and representative classical themes are defined and illustrated.
COS 113: Pastoral Care for Spiritual Formation
Exploration of the caring presence and actions of the pastor as a form of spiritual leadership and formation. Skills of effective pastoral care will be presented and practiced, including effective listening and response skills, awareness of cultural differences, timely intervention, and appropriate referral. Students will be encourage to reflect on their personal strengths, need for growth in developing relational skills, self-care, and the development of personal spiritual practices – all in the context of the community of faith.
COS 114: Pastoral Leadership and Administration
Focus upon the formation and competency in fulfilling the role of pastoral administrator so that a unity is achieved between the pastor’s doing and being. The development of administrative skills in keeping with the theology and polity of The United Methodist Church is addressed.
COS 211: Hebrew Bible I
Interpretation of the developing institutions and traditions of Israel and examination of the varying ways in which the Hebrew people understand critical events of their history as acts of God. Attention is given to the earliest Covenants, to the Exodus, to the rise of the monarchy, and to other events up to the Eighth Century Prophets.
COS 212: Theological Heritage: Early & Medieval
Critical reflection upon significant individuals, decisive events, and fundamental tenets of the Christian faith as found in early church and medieval Christianity. Utilizing the categories of grace and faith as a focusing lens, the student appropriates the Christian heritage and enters into the Church’s ongoing task of interpreting, articulating, and enacting the gospel for contemporary life. Some use of primary sources.
COS 213: Formation For Discipleship
Examines the ministry of the church as a means of nurturing faith, Christian values, and ways of life among members of the congregation and community. Skills for evaluating, planning, and designing educational experiences are stressed as well as the pastor’s role as mentor and servant.
COS 214: Practice of Preaching
The focus is on preaching the gospel. The utilization of biblical exegesis, sermon preparation and delivery, and evaluation of the pastor’s preaching are central concerns.
COS 311: New Testament I
This course presents a panoramic view of the content, main characteristics, and message of the books of the New Testament in light of their historical, political, socio-economic, cultural and religious environment, as well as their importance as literary expressions of the faith and history of the Early Church. The practice of exegesis is again emphasized with special focus on Luke, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, and Galatians.
COS 312: Our Theological Heritage: The Reformation
In this course, students will critically reflect upon the individuals, decisive events, and theological developments during the period of the Protestant Reformation. Utilizing the categories of grace and faith as a focusing lens, the student appropriates the Reformation heritage and enters into the church’s ongoing task of interpreting and enacting the gospel for contemporary life. Attention will be given to selected primary sources.
COS 313: Our Mission from God: Evangelism
This course offers an analysis of the theology of evangelism and our faithfulness to God’s call. Also, students will analyze various strategies for and approaches to the church’s evangelistic task in the heritage of United Methodism, stressing the proclamation and the enactment of the Gospel.
COS 314: Pastoral Care and Counseling
In this course, students will focus upon the pastor’s understanding of human nature with attention to methods and skills in pastoral care and counseling. Each person participates in an assessment of his or her personal interactive styles.
COS 411: Hebrew Bible II
This course is a continuation of the examination of the Word of God as it was expressed through some of Israel’s prophets, selected Psalms, and selected passages from the Book of Job.
COS 412: Wesleyan Movement
This course reflects critically upon significant individuals, decisive events, and fundamental tenants of the Christian faith as found in the development of United Methodism. Utilizing categories of grace and faith as a focusing lens, the student appropriates particulars of the Wesleyan heritage and enters into the church’s ongoing task of interpreting, articulating, and enacting the gospel in contemporary life.
COS 413: Worship and Sacraments
In this course, students will examine the sacraments, rites, and liturgy of the United Methodist Church and the pastors role as worship leader.
COS 414: Personal and Social Ethics
This course will analyze the biblical and theological bases for Christian behavior: personal, professional, and social. Emphasis is given to the acquisition of pastoral skills in moral discernment and ethically responsible decision making and action.
5th Year Courses
COS 511: New Testament II
Continuation of the third year New Testament course with an intentional focus on the practice of exegesis of assigned texts. An emphasis is given to the integration of previous learning in exegesis and biblical studies with a contextualization in the practice of ministry. Special emphasis includes Matthew, John, James, and Revelation.
COS 512: Contemporary Theology
Critical reflection upon significant individuals, movements, decisive events, and fundamental tenets of the Christian faith which in the past century, or so, have shaped contemporary theologies. Through study of varied theological expressions in modern and post-modern decades the student enters into the church’s enduring task of interpreting, articulating, and enacting the gospel for contemporary life. Attention will be given to selected primary sources.
COS 513: Our Mission from God: Transforming Agent
The mission of the church is to serve God and neighbor by transmitting the Gospel for the redemption of the world. Redemption is God’s holy activity that transforms individuals, societies and all of life. When faithful to its mission, the church serves as an agent of God’s transforming redemption. Based on this understanding of the nature of the church and its mission, this course seeks to help pastors gain theological understanding and practical ministry skills for leading congregations to carry out the mission of the church as God’s agents of transformation.
COS 514: Theology and the Practice of Ministry
The integration of the role of the practicing pastor with the church’s theological heritage and its particular Wesleyan expression is emphasized. Theology as an ongoing task of critical reflection for the purpose of action is stressed. Consideration is given to issues, events and institutions which form the context within which the pastor is required to think, speak, and act with theological clarity.
The Course of Study is open to ministers of all communions and is recognized as the official course required by the United Methodist Church for candidates for the ministry who are following the local pastor route. Students following the local pastor route shall have been certified as candidates for ordained ministry, completed the requirements for license as a local pastor, and received the endorsement of the annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry prior to enrollment in the Course of Study. In all but exceptional cases, students are expected to be under appointment to a congregation with supervision by a district superintendent and a pastoral mentor. The full process leading to ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church is specifically set forth in The Discipline, which should be read carefully and discussed with a member of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry or a District Superintendent.
Full-time local pastors are required to complete four courses per year in a Course of Study School and upon completion of the five–year program are expected to be involved in continuing education. Full-time local pastors cannot be enrolled as a full-time student in any college or university (see (¶318.1e 2004 Book of Discipline). It is expected that full-time local pastors will complete the full course of study curriculum within eight years (see ¶319.3 2004 Book of Discipline).
Part-time local pastors are required to complete two courses per year in a Course of Study School. It is expected that part-time local pastors will complete the full course of study curriculum within twelve years (see ¶319.3 2004 Book of Discipline).
Students are expected to attend all class sessions during Course of Study. There are no excused absences from Course of Study classes. Absences may affect class participation grades, and therefore a student’s overall performance at Course of Study. Per the policy set by the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, a student missing more than three hours of any one course shall not receive a grade for the course. If you find you must miss a class, please be courteous to your instructors by notifying the instructor and class representative of your absence and arranging to share notes with one of your classmates.
Conduct of Students
The Course of Study expects and will require of all its students continuing loyal cooperation in developing and maintaining high standards of scholarship and conduct. The Divinity School expects Course of Study students to participate in a communally shared concern for growth in life appropriate to Christian faith and to the dignity of their calling.
Grades are assigned by faculty following completion of all coursework. Grades range from “A” to “F,, including + and - . A “D” is considered a passing grade.
Official transcripts for Course of Study work are available through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry; contact Lynn Daye or call (615) 340-7416.
The Honor Code
Ministerial and theological education involves developing and shaping a life of honor and integrity, virtues rooted in our faith. Therefore, we in the Divinity School of Duke University pledge, individually and corporately, to exhibit our commitment to these virtues by abstaining from any form of cheating, lying or plagiarism and by respecting the facilities of the Divinity School and the property of our peers and professors. We do also assume responsibility for the maintenance of these virtues by pledging, individually and corporately, to report any violation of this code. By signing their application to the Course of Study school, students indicate their willingness to abide by all policies outlined in these program guidelines.
All students are expected to do their own work. Friends and spouses may help with spelling and punctuation and may proofread papers, but should not participate in the research and writing of the papers. Plagiarism, the use of someone else’s work without giving appropriate recognition, is a highly serious matter of academic dishonesty. Plagiarism and other instances of academic dishonesty will be dealt with harshly and may result in the failure of the class involved. It is at the discretion of the Course of Study Director whether to report academic dishonesty to the student’s District Superintendent, the Board of Ordained Ministry, and the Bishop.
Using inclusive language that expands and enriches our understanding of God includes the practice, when writing and speaking of persons or God, of using precise language and explicit pronouns; referring to collective and abstract nouns without gender; and avoiding the exclusive use of either masculine or feminine pronouns for God.
No form of harassment is acceptable at Duke University. It is inconsistent with the University's commitments to excellence and respect for all individuals. Duke University is also committed to the free and vigorous discussion of ideas and issues, which the University believes will be protected by this policy.