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The Advanced Course of Study (ACOS) for Ordained Ministry has been established by the General 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.

Pastoral leaders from other denominations and lay persons may register and take classes in the Duke Divinity School Course of Study program.

Duke Divinity School cooperates with the General Board to offer the Course of Study program each summer and on weekends throughout the academic year in an effort to train faithful and effective leaders for pastoral ministry. Course instructors include faculty and staff of the Divinity School and other universities and institutions, and experienced pastoral leaders. University course credit is not granted through this program.

For Duke Divinity Course of Study information and additional details in a printable format, please see the 2018-2019 Program Guidelines (pdf)

Summer Institute Advanced COS Course Offerings


June 3 - 7, 2019

Come expand your theological imagination, grapple with practical problems, and be equipped to continue a journey of reconciliation within a wider community by participating as an ACOS student at the Summer Institute.

ACOS students who participate in the Summer Institute will take the Theology of Reconciliation seminar taught by Rev. Dr. Edgardo Colon-Emeric, complete pre-work prior to attending Summer Institute, and complete assignments online after the residential week.

For information specifically about the Summer Institute schedule, please visit the Summer Institute webpage.  To participate in this ACOS at the Summer Institute offering, DO NOT register through the Summer Institute page. Instead, you'll register for it in the registration section below, and an additional registration link for ACOS at the Summer Institute will be sent to you in a confirmation email. 

Summer Advanced Course of Study


July 2019

Join us on a journey this July as ACOS explores missional innovation in the church. Whether you are focused on contextual evangelism, innovative forms of ministry, or church planting, these courses are designed to provide theological grounding and practices to sustain and enrich your ministry. Courses will be broadly connected through the theory and practices of hospitality, community formation, Christian spiritual formation, and neighboring in order to create scriptural imagination around what God is doing in the world. Course offerings will be taught in a hybrid format with students receiving pre-work and assignments online that follow the residential intensive week. Courses offered this summer include:

July 15-19           Mornings

Advanced Theology: Flourishing in Ministry with Professor David Emmanuel Goatley, Research Professor of Theology and Black Church Studies

Pastoral ministry is good and faithful work. While it is filled with deep meaning, it can also be difficult to manage. This course will explore marks of thriving in ministry, threats to thriving in ministry and explore a formula for flourishing in ministry. This course will explore emerging insights on pastoral well-being, assess how emerging insights relate to this course cohort and imaging how pastors can implement practices of excellence to improve the probability for flourishing and finishing well.

July 15-19           Afternoons

Advanced Leadership: Christian Social Innovation with Dean L. Gregory Jones, dean of the Divinity School and Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Distinguished Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry and Rev. Dr. Susan Pendleton Jones

People are hungry for innovation. We are hungry for new ways of doing things that can chart better paths forward. We know that we are facing challenges that are complex, problems that are 'wicked'. This is true for us in the church, and it is also true for other institutions such as education, health, business, journalism, and civil society itself. Yet much of what passes for “innovation” is often focused on techniques, or disconnected from moral vision, or is a cool business term to cover over incremental change (or all of the above). A Christian vision for social innovation actually seeks to recover the Church’s pioneering work in this area through the centuries, both by connecting it to our End (the Reign of God) and to our deepest wisdom in Scripture. In this course we will explore a Christian vision for social innovation and the leadership needed to cultivate it faithfully. We will draw on sources from scripture and the Christian tradition, business/social innovation literature, and contemporary stories and experiments.

July 22-26          Mornings

Advanced Mission: Missio Ecclesia with Professor Laceye Warner, Royce and Jane Reynolds Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies

The course is a reflection on God’s Mission for the church in the world.  While the church’s identity and purpose often default to minimal techniques for survival and witness, too often ministries are encouraged without a sufficient understanding of the destructive outcomes of some efforts.  This course argues for understanding the church’s mission in relationship to the Triune God, practiced in empowering and sustainable relationships with neighbors and creation. This course draws on Christian Scripture, tradition, and contemporary practices to shape textured, theologically-imagined, sustainable practices of missional witness with and beyond the church.

July 22-26          Afternoons

Advanced Evangelism: Evangelism and Discipleship with Professor Jeff Conklin-Miller, E. Stanley Jones Assistant Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Christian Formation and the Royce and Jane Reynolds Teaching Fellow (NOTE: This course is also being offered in Weekend COS Session IV in March 2019.)

This course explores the ministry of evangelism and making disciples of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the Wesleyan tradition and its holistic spirituality, combining works of piety and works of mercy. By examining the way in which the early Methodists discovered, learned, and practiced the Christian faith and how the Methodists Societies functioned as disciple-making communities, students will learn and apply these principles of accountable discipleship to their own ministry and the church’s mission today.

Information and registration for the 2019 Summer ACOS Missional Innovation Focus (described above) will be available in late 2018/early 2019 on the Summer COS webpage.

Weekend Advanced Course of Study

Additional information and registration for current 2018-2019 Weekend ACOS offerings can be found on the Weekend COS webpage.

Information and registration for 2019-2020 Weekend ACOS offerings will be available in Spring 2019. 

Which Advanced Course of Study is Right for You?

Trying to choose between Summer Course of Study and Weekend Course of Study?

We currently offer Advanced COS courses in both summer and weekend formats, for both full-time and part-time local pastors. Choosing which session works best for you is largely based on your schedule and flexibility. Both require about a month of pre-work and readings ahead of time. Please click the links above or contact our office if you would like to talk more about the differences between the session formats.

ALL students seeking Advanced COS course credit from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) must have already completed the Basic COS curriculum.

Pastoral leaders from other denominations and lay persons may register and take classes in the Duke Divinity School Course of Study program.


Each year advanced courses are offered in areas that are pertinent to the pastor’s role and responsibility in the local church, and are designed to fulfill the Basic Graduate Theological Studies (BGTS) requirements for ordination. Students pursuing Advanced Studies as a route to ordination should choose classes based on individual annual conference requirements. Students should consult their annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry to determine which courses fulfill those specific requirements.

ALL students seeking Advanced COS course credit from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) must have already completed the Basic COS curriculum.

Students pursuing Advanced studies should consult the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) Policies and Guidelines handbook for detailed information about requirements. Linked below is a checklist to help you track your ACOS progress, and a course offering and description document for 2019:

Students who have questions about which courses to take or concerns regarding the COS curriculum are welcome to contact Duke Divinity School’s Course of Study office. If you would like specific guidance, we are happy to help but may first need your official transcript(s) from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

For official transcript requests, please contact the GBHEM Course of Study Registrar at cosregistrar@gbhem.org or (615) 340.7416.

Completing Course of Study

If you intend to complete the Course of Study program and participate in our Closing Convocation ceremony in July, please send a brief email and a copy of your official transcript to our registrar, Barbara Campbell at bcampbell@div.duke.edu.

Courses, Booklists and Pre-Class Preparation

Advance preparation is required of all students. Course of Study at Duke Divinity has provided writing guidelines (pdf) to assist students in completion of their assignments with best academic practices. We ask that you would take particular note of the sections on plagiarism and contact our office for clarification, if necessary.

Textbooks can be purchased through the Duke Divinity Bookshop.

ACOS at the Summer Institute: Booklists and Pre-Work

Each course will make available a booklist and pre-work that is to be completed before the session begins, according to the deadlines set by the instructor. The residential portion of this course requires twenty hours of classroom time and five hours of online work following the residential week. Online work will include tasks like uploading documents, posting comments, watching videos, etc.

Information related to your courses including pre-work and required readings will be available in Sakai, an educational learning platform. Details about the process required to access coursework and log into Sakai will be sent to registered students following the April 29, 2019 registration deadline, including information on creating a required Duke NetID Sponsored Guest Account.

Sakai Resources

Please refer to the following self-help resources to answer questions about using Sakai.

Online Library Research Resources/Links

Students with learning disabilities should contact the director to discuss appropriate accommodations.

Registration & Enrollment

Registration Process

Students must register for courses through the registration link(s) provided below. Please read this information before registering.

Registration Requirements

  • ALL students seeking credit from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) for Advanced COS courses must have already completed the Basic Course of Study curriculum. You MUST email your official GBHEM Basic COS transcript to our registrar, Barbara Campbell at bcampbell@div.duke.edu. To obtain a copy of your transcript please contact the COS Registrar at cosregistrar@gbhem.org to request your transcript prior to online registration.
  • You must provide your GBHEM PID number during online registration. If you do not know your 6-digit PID number, please email cosregistrar@gbhem.org at GBHEM to obtain it prior to online registration.
  • In order to attend Course of Study, UM local pastors under appointment must receive approval from both their district superintendent (DS) and their Board of Ministry local pastor registrar (LPR). Please provide the most current and accurate names, email addresses, and conference and district designations when registering. Please contact your DS and LPR prior to or immediately following registration for courses to keep them informed about what courses you intend to take this year. This will help keep the approval process running smoothly. The Duke COS registrar will request the formal approvals, and any student not approved will be notified by us as soon as possible.
  • Everyone who completes online registration will receive a confirmation email. Please forward the confirmation email on to your conference if it requires proof of your course enrollment for scholarship reimbursement.
  • If you are not a United Methodist licensed local pastor, you will choose the designated check box during the online registration process.
  • Enrollment is not complete until all registration requirements and fees have been received by the Course of Study office.

Register for COS Advanced Theology at the Summer Institute

Registration deadline is April 29, 2019.

Registration for ACOS at the Summer Institute requires two enrollments, completed in the following order:

Step 1

Register for Advanced COS - OPEN

Step 2

Register for the Summer Institute using the link you'll receive in the confirmation email after Step 1. (DO NOT register through the Summer Institute page.)

You will receive a registration link for the Summer Institute in your Course of Study registration confirmation email following your online registration in Step 1. Please complete this registration immediately after you receive this email, and contact the Course of Study office if you have questions or problems.

ACOS at the Summer Institute Registration and Tuition Fees

The non-refundable registration fee for the 2019 ACOS at the Summer Institute is $75. The 2019 Summer Institute for Reconciliation registration fee is $500, which includes the cost of most meals. All Summer Institute participants are responsible for making their own lodging arrangements.

All other Advanced Course of Study registration and tuition fees will be found on the individual Summer and Weekend COS web pages.

Registration for Summer ACOS and Weekend ACOS

Registration for the 2019 Summer ACOS Missional Innovation Focus will be available in late 2018/early 2019 on the Summer COS page.

Registration for 2018-19 Weekend ACOS offerings are available on the Weekend COS page. 2019-2020 Weekend ACOS offerings will be announced in Spring 2019 on the Weekend COS page.

Financial Aid

UM local pastors may be eligible for funds from their conference Board of Ordained Ministry to cover tuition and/or non-tuition expenses. In order to receive an annual conference scholarship, students must be in touch with their Local Pastor Registrar. Conferences will issue financial aid awards directly to the students, as Duke does not accept these payments. Please forward the confirmation email on to your conference if it requires proof of your course enrollment for scholarship reimbursement.

Cancellation and Early Withdrawal Policy

There are times when it is necessary for a student to cancel their enrollment in Course of Study. Cancellations must be communicated in writing (email is acceptable) to the Course of Study office, to your district superintendent, and to your Board of Ministry local pastor registrarThere are no refunds given for registration fees. Fees apply for cancellations that are not received by the required dates.

Accommodations & Meals


All Course of Study students are responsible for making their own lodging arrangements.


Your registration may cover some meals.

General Information & Policies

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend all online and residential 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 General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, a student missing more than 20% of contact hours for 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 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 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 faith and life reflecting the dignity of our calling. Each student will sign a conduct covenant, agreeing to abide by these expectations, when he or she applies for Course of Study.


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, an annual conference may have different standards. Students are encouraged to be in contact with their local pastor registrar regarding these requirements. Grades will be distributed approximately 4-6 weeks following the end of each session.


Duke Divinity School does not hold official transcripts for Course of Study students. Official transcripts for Course of Study work are available through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry; contact the GBHEM COS Registrar at cosregistrar@gbhem.org or (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 agreeing to the terms and conditions and initialing the covenant on the application, students indicate their willingness to abide by all policies outlined in these program guidelines and all University policies.

Academic Integrity

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 could 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, their Board of Ordained Ministry, and their bishop.

Special Accommodations

Students with learning disabilities should contact the director to discuss appropriate accommodations.


Duke University is also committed to the free and vigorous discussion of ideas and issues. To allow this to happen, no form of harassment is acceptable at Duke University. It is inconsistent with the University’s commitments to excellence and respect for all individuals. In addition to the University’s policy, students will be furnished with copies of the General Board of Higher Education’s policy on harassment as well. Duke Course of Study will follow the procedures outlined in the GBHEM policy handbook in cases of sexual and racial harassment; copies of this handbook are made available to all students online and may be requested by contacting the Duke Course of Study office.

Inclusive Language

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. The Course of Study Inclusive Language Policy is a helpful guide to these expected practices.

Contact Us

Mailing address:

Duke Divinity School
148 Langford Bldg.
Duke Box #90968
Durham, NC 27708

Duke Course of Study Staff

Barbara Campbell, Registrar & Student Services
Rhonda Parker, Interim Director

Duke University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Duke Course of Study at (919) 613.5326 in advance of your participation or visit.