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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 (GBHEM) 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 for classes in the Duke Divinity School Course of Study program by contacting the school's office.

Duke Divinity School cooperates with the General Board to offer the Course of Study and the Advanced Course of Study programs over six sessions throughout the 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 Program Guidelines Booklet (pdf)

Advanced Course of Study

All courses are currently being offered online only.

Upcoming Advanced COS Dates and Course Offerings

Course offerings are taught in an online 6-week format, including pre-assignments, weekly synchronous required Zoom class periods, and weekly asychronous required online work in Sakai. Sakai is an educational learning platform used by Duke University. Upcoming advanced course offerings and program dates include:

2022 Course of Study Session 1

January 10 - February 19, 2022
Registration Deadline: December 3, 2021

Adv UM History
Synchronous sessions: Tuesdays, noon-2pm
Instructor: Dr. Laceye Warner

This course focuses on the early Methodist movement beginning in eighteenth-century England. The course content explores characteristics and practices of the movement including its transition to North America. This course also helps to prepare students to participate in the life and leadership of The United Methodist Church and other Wesleyan/Methodist churches.

2022 Course of Study Session 2

February 28 - April 9, 2022
Registration Deadline: January 21, 2022

Adv Mission
Synchronous sessions: Thursdays, 6-8pm
Instructor: Dr. Uday Balasundaram

Historically, the concept of the missio Dei has reinforced the essential nature and identity of the church as being “missionary by its very nature.” More recently, the rapid reconfiguration of cultural boundaries due to globalizing processes along with the ongoing disruption of ministry “as we know it” due to COVID-19 has revealed several gaps as well as opportunities for fresh approaches to the creative engagement of the world for mission.

A creative theology for mission invites a paradigm shift in our understanding of mission as participation in the creativity of God. Participants will individually and collaboratively engage in missiological reflection of their personal and collective ministry experiences and contexts, critically evaluate particular systemic and structural issues shaping mission currently, and thematically explore missional being, design, beauty, community, and performance as part of a missiological framework for creative engagement with the world in such a time as this.

Adv UM Polity
Synchronous sessions: Tuesdays, noon-2pm
Instructor: Dr. Laceye Warner

The course focuses on United Methodist polity and governance including its doctrine, mission, ordination, and connectional structure.  The course will explore roots of these practices from predecessor Methodist movements. This course also helps to prepare students to participate in the life and leadership of The United Methodist Church.

2022 Session 3 - Session 6

Details coming soon.

More Information and Registration

NOTE: 2022 COS Session 1 and 2 will be offered online ONLY, and the 2022 COS Session 3 - Session 6 format is yet to be determined.

Information and registration for the current 2022 Course of Study and Advanced COS offerings can be found on the Course of Study webpage.


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 their elective courses based on individual annual conference requirements. Students should consult their annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry to determine which elective courses fulfill those specific requirements.

All students seeking credit for Advanced COS courses 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 also a description document for 2022 Advanced COS course offerings:

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 can help but will first need a copy of your official transcript(s) from GBHEM.

For official transcript requests, please contact the GBHEM Course of Study Registrar at cosregistrar@gbhem.org or (615) 340-7416.

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.

Information related to course(s) including booklist and required readings will be available in course sites in Sakai, an educational learning platform. Details about the process required to access coursework will be sent to registered students following the posted registration deadlines for each session.

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 Couse of Study office to discuss appropriate accommodations.

Registration & Enrollment

Registration Process

Students must register for courses through the registration link(s) provided on the Course of Study webpage linked 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 are required to submit a copy of your completed COS transcript to Barbara Campbell at dukecos@div.duke.edu. To obtain a copy of your transcript, please contact the GBHEM COS registrar at cosregistrar@gbhem.org.
  • 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.
  • In order to attend Course of Study, United Methodist (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. We recommend that you be in conversation with your DS and LPR prior to registration about the courses you intend to take this year. This will help the approval process run more smoothly. The Duke COS School will request the formal approval(s) on your behalf, and any student not approved will be notified by us as soon as possible. If you are a LLP currently under appointment in a UM Church, approval for coursework is likely.
  • Everyone who completes online registration will receive a confirmation email. These emails are system generated and are sent immediately, however they may arrive in your junk or spam folders. Please forward the confirmation email 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 may register for classes in the Course of Study program by contacting our office.
  • Enrollment is not complete until all registration requirements and fees have been received by the Course of Study office.

Registration for 2022 Course of Study

Registration in advanced courses for 2022 COS - Session 1 and Session 2 are available on the Course of Study webpage.

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. To receive an annual conference scholarship, students must be in touch with their Board of Ministry Local Pastor Registrar. Conferences will issue financial aid awards directly to the students. 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.

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 percent of contact hours (in ONLINE format this is equivalent to one Zoom class period) for any one course shall not receive a grade for the course. If you find you have an issue that will keep you from participating in the residential or online contact hours, please email or call the COS program office and your instructor as soon as you are aware of the situation to find out if an arrangement can be made to accommodate an absence.

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 enrolls for Course of Study.

Grades are assigned by faculty following completion of all coursework. Grades range from “A” to “F", including "+" and "-" designations. 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 last day of the program.

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 during online registration, 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, the Board of Ordained Ministry, and the bishop.

Special Accommodations
Students with learning disabilities should contact the Duke Course of Study 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 the 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 students 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
09 Gray Bldg.
Duke Box #90968
Durham, NC 27708

Duke Course of Study Staff

Barbara Campbell, Course of Study Registrar & Student Services
Rhonda Parker, 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.