Duke Divinity School (Map)
(919) 613-5326

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 pastors in United Methodist congregations.

Pastoral leaders from other denominations and lay persons may register for classes in the Course of Study program by contacting our office.

Duke Divinity School cooperates with the General Board to offer the Course of Study program each summer (see Summer Course of Study) 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, see the 2019-2020 Program Guidelines (pdf).

Dates & Deadlines

2020-2021 Weekend Course of Study

2020-2021 WCOS Course Offerings & Schedule (pdf)

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



Session I: August 31 - October 10, 2020 (basic classes end October 3)
Session II: October 19 - November 25, 2020 (basic classes end November 21)

SPRING SESSIONS: Exact dates and details of the program and format are to be determined.

Session III: January 18 - February 26, 2021 (Residential Weekend, February 5-6; NOTE: residential weekend moved from January to February)
Session IV: March 22 - April 30, 2021 (Residential Weekend, April 9-10; NOTE: residential weekend moved from March to April)


Registration Deadlines

Program Session Deadline
Basic and Advanced Session I Friday, July 31 2020
  Session II Friday, September 11 2020
  Session III TBD
  Session IV TBD

Which Course of Study Is Right for You?

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

Both full-time and part-time local pastors are permitted to attend either weekend or summer sessions of Course of Study. Choosing which session works best for you is largely based on your schedule and flexibility. Both require pre-work and readings ahead of time. Please contact our office if you would like to talk more about the differences between summer and weekend sessions.

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.

Pastoral leaders from other denominations and lay persons may register for classes in the Course of Study program by contacting our office.


The 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:

ALL students seeking credit for Advanced COS courses from GBHEM must 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 you would like specific guidance, we will help but may first need 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.

Completing Course of Study

Students complete COS throughout the year. The Basic COS and Advanced COS completions will be recognized in the last worship service of every COS program session.

If you intend to complete the Course of Study program this year, you will need to send a copy of your official transcript and a brief email to Barbara Campbell at dukecos@div.duke.edu.

Courses, Booklists, and Pre-Class Preparation

2020-2021 WCOS Course Offerings & Schedule (pdf)

In Fall 2020, session I and session II online format will include 5 weeks of instruction. 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 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.

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 that is to be completed before the sessions begins, according to the deadlines set by instructors. Online work will include tasks such as uploading documents, posting comments, watching videos, etc.

Information related to your course(s) including pre-assignment and required readings will be available in course sites in Sakai, an educational learning platform. 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 will be sent to registered students approximately 5-7 business days following the individual session registration deadline dates shown above in the Dates & Deadlines section.


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

Online Library Research 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 the information just below before registering.

Registration Requirements

  • Effective June 1, 2020, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) approved a new 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 your District Superintendent or Duke Divinity COS office if you have questions about this new policy.
      • During the transition period, we will work with local pastors on a case-by-case basis to determine the best way to both continue your studies and meet this new requirement.
  • All students seeking credit from 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 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, 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 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. 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.


2020-2021 Registration

2020 Fall COS - Session I Registration - Closed

2020 Fall COS - Session II Registration - Open

Register for Session 3 February 2021 (previously January) WCOS - Details TBD

Register for Session 4 April 2021 (previously March 2021)  WCOS - Details TBD

Tuition and Fees

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

Tuition for basic classes: $175 per class
Tuition for advanced classes: $250 per class

Late registrants will be charged a 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. 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 enrollment in Course of Study. Cancellations must be communicated in writing (email is acceptable) to the Course of Study office, your district superintendent, and your Board of Ministry local pastor registrarThere are no refunds given for registration fees. Course tuitions, 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 you do not withdraw by the following deadlines you will be charged the full cost of enrollment.


Final Deadline to Withdraw

Session I – September 2020

August 17, 2020

Session II – November 2020

October 5, 2020

Session III – February 2021


Session IV – April 2021


Housing, Meals, and Parking

NOT APPLICABLE FOR FALL COS (Session I and Session II will be online only)


Students attending Weekend Course of Study are responsible for making their own housing arrangements. Duke Divinity School and the COS program office negotiates reduced rates for COS students at a few nearby establishments. These hotels offer free shuttle service to the Duke University campus; we recommend this option to avoid additional fees for parking and the challenges of parking on campus. Additionally, some offer a few meals including breakfast and other amenities.

2020 Weekend COS Housing Announcement (pdf)

Recommended Hotel Information Sheets:


Dinner on Friday evening and lunch on Saturday afternoon is provided.


Parking procedures below have been updated; please read carefully.

Handicapped Parking: Handicapped parking on campus requires special arrangements with Duke University, as well as a state permit. Please indicate your needs when you register online, and you will receive detailed arrangements before the start of the session.

On-campus Parking: Because availability of campus parking is always subject to change, students are encouraged to use hotel shuttles, Duke campus buses, and explore carpooling options with peers to share the cost of transportation and to avoid parking issues on campus.

During registration, students will have the option to pre-purchase parking. If you chose this option you will be given access to lots assigned by Duke University Parking Services that could require up to a 10-15 minute walk to the Divinity School.

Here is a map that highlights the Duke Divinity School and surrounding roads.

General Information & Policies

General Information

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 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 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 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 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
016 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.