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The Course of Study 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 licensed local pastors in United Methodist congregations.

Duke Divinity School cooperates with the General Board to offer the Course of Study and Advanced Course of Study programs 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, see this program guidelines booklet (updates coming soon).

Dates & Deadlines

2023 Course of Study (planned) Schedule & Course Offerings (click the link for a pdf printable document)


2023 COS Session 3

May 15 - June 17 (basic courses: 123, 223, 323, 423, 523)

May 15 - June 24 & June 30 (advanced courses: Advanced Preaching: Preaching the Powers & Principalities (ends 6/24) and Advanced Church History/Advanced Women's Studies: Women & Mysticism in the Middle Ages (ends 6/30)

2023 COS Session 4

July 10 - August 12 (basic courses: 124, 224, 324, 424, 524)

July 10 - August 19 (advanced course: Advanced Church History/Advanced Black Church Studies: American Christianity & Our Future's Formation)

Note: All synchronous class periods and asynchronous coursework are required contact hours.

2023 COS Advanced Course Descriptions Sessions 1-6 (pdf)


Registration Deadlines for Basic and Advanced

Session Deadline
Session 1 November 25, 2022
Session 2 January 20, 2023
Session 3 March 31, 2023
Session 4 June 2, 2023
Session 5 July 28, 2023
Session 6 September 22, 2023


The United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) implemented a new Course of Study curriculum for all COS programs since Fall 2014. This new curriculum was revised to emphasize formation for ministry, while maintaining theological integrity and remaining relevant to the needs of the church.

Students who began the Course of Study prior to Fall 2014 will be given credit for courses taken under the old curriculum or their new equivalent. Additional information about the current COS curriculum can be found below, as well as completion plan documents to assist students in tracking their progress in the COS program.

In 2020, GBHEM implemented a Course of Study prerequisite policy. Local pastors must take course 121 (Bible I: Introduction) and course 122 (Theological Heritage I: Introduction) before taking any other courses.

All students seeking credit for Advanced COS courses from GBHEM should have already completed the Basic COS curriculum.

Students who have questions about which courses to take or concerns regarding the COS curriculum are encouraged to contact Duke Divinity School’s Course of Study office. If students would like specific guidance involving transcripts, the COS office will help but may first need an updated 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.

Completing Course of Study

Students will complete COS and Advanced COS throughout the year. Following the close of each COS session, completion certificates will be requested by the COS office from the registrar at GBHEM. Once we receive the certificates, they are signed by the COS director and mailed to the students' preferred mailing address.

Courses, Booklists, and Pre-Class Preparation

2023 Course of Study (planned) Schedule & Course Offerings (click the link for a PDF printable document)

2023 COS Advanced Course Descriptions Sessions 1-6  (pdf)

All 2023 sessions will be in a fully online format unless otherwise specified. Each week basic courses will have 2 hours of asynchronous instruction in Sakai and 2 hours of synchronous class periods in Zoom rooms with their instructors and classmates, for a total of 20 contact hours. Each advanced class will have 6 weeks of instruction for a total of 25 contact hours.

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

If desired, textbooks can be purchased through the Duke Divinity Bookshop.

Booklists and Pre-Work

Each course will make available a booklist and pre-assignment in Sakai course sites. Pre-work is to be completed by the beginning of each session, according to the deadlines set by instructors. Online work may include tasks such as uploading documents, posting comments, watching videos, taking quizzes, etc. 

Sakai is an educational learning platform. Information about how to access the Sakai course site, including booklist and required readings is sent by email to registered students about 5-7 business days following the individual session registration deadlines. Following the registration deadlines, details about the process required to access coursework, how to create a required Duke Net ID sponsored guest account, how to set-up a Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) for secure access, and how to log into Sakai is sent by email to registered students. Individual session registration deadline dates are listed above in the Dates & Deadlines section.


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

Online Library Research Links:

Course of Study students do not have access to Duke Libraries online materials. Our licensing agreements with vendors for electronic materials require the university to limit access to active faculty, staff, and students in Duke University degree-seeking programs. The Divinity School keeps a research guide on open access internet resources in religion and theology which is recommended to Course of Study students and others who do not have access to Duke Libraries’ electronic resources.

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 the information here before registering.

Registration Information & Requirements

  • Effective June 1, 2020, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) implemented a Course of Study prerequisite policy as follows:
    • Course 121 (Bible I: Introduction) and Course 122 (Theological Heritage I: Introduction) will be prerequisites for enrollment in any other Course of Study courses.
      • Contact a district superintendent or Duke Divinity COS office with questions about this required prerequisite registration policy.
      • If both of these courses have not been completed and the Divinity School is not offering either of them in the current session, please do not register for any other course. Contact the COS office by emailing dukecos@div.duke.edu to discuss options.
  • Students seeking credit from GBHEM for Advanced COS (ACOS) courses should have already completed the Basic Course of Study curriculum. If a student has a special circumstance, please contact the COS office. Following registration, ACOS students are required to submit a copy of their completed COS transcript to Barbara Campbell at dukecos@div.duke.edu. To obtain a transcript copy, please contact the COS registrar at cosregistrar@gbhem.org.
  • Students must provide a GBHEM PID number during online registration. If a student do not know their 6-digit PID number, they should 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. The Duke COS School will request the formal approval(s) on your behalf, and any student not approved will be notified by the COS office as soon as possible. If a student is a LLP currently under appointment in a United Methodist 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. Students should forward the confirmation email to their conference if it requires proof of their course enrollment for scholarship reimbursement.
  • Payment online is required at the time of registration, and enrollment is not complete until all registration requirements and fees have been received by the Course of Study office.


2023 Registration

2023 COS - Session 1 Registration - CLOSED

2023 COS - Session 2 Registration - CLOSED

2023 COS - Session 3 Registration - OPENS February 27

2023 COS - Session 4 Registration - OPENS February 27

2023 COS - Session 5 Registration - OPENS on or about June 26

2023 COS - Session 6 Registration - OPENS on or about June 26

Tuition and Fees

Registration fee (non-refundable): $100 per class

Tuition for basic classes: $250 per class (NEW: COS 324 Preaching requires an additional $50 lab fee)
Tuition for advanced classes: $325 per class (NEW: ACOS Preaching requires an additional $50 lab fee)

Late registrants will be charged a $50 processing fee.

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 Board of Ministry Local Pastor Registrar. Conferences will issue financial aid awards directly to the students. Students should forward the confirmation email on to their conference if it requires proof of their course enrollment for scholarship reimbursement.

Cancellation and Early Withdrawal Policy

There are times when it is necessary for a student to cancel enrollment in Course of Study. Cancellations must be communicated in writing (email is acceptable) to the Course of Study office, their district superintendent, and their Board of Ministry local pastor registrarThere are no refunds given for registration fees. Course tuition, parking fees, or special event fees are not refundable after the final deadline to withdraw has passed; see deadlines for withdrawal below. Fees apply for cancellations that are not received by these dates.

If students do not withdraw by the following deadlines, they will be charged the full cost of enrollment.


Final Deadline to Withdraw

Session 1 – Jan 2 - Feb 11

December 19, 2022

Session 2 – Feb 26 - Apr 15

February 13, 2023

Session 3 – May 15 - June 30

May 1, 2023

Session 4 – July 10 - Aug 19

June 26, 2023

Session 5 – Sept 4 - Oct 14

August 21, 2023
Session 6 – Oct 30 - Dec 16

October 16, 2023

General Information & Policies

General Information

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend all synchronous and asychronous instruction 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 for any one course shall not receive a grade for the course. If a student has an issue that will keep them from participating in the residential or online contact hours, please email or call the COS program office and the instructor as soon as possible 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 applies 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 last weekly online 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 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 student's Board of Ordained Ministry, and the 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
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.