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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 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, please see the 2019-2020 Program Guidelines (pdf)

Dates & Deadlines

2020-2021 Weekend Hybrid Course of Study (NOTE: Hold the Dates)

Session I: August 31 - October 9, 2020 (Residential Weekend, September 18-19)
Session II: October 26 - December 4, 2020 (Residential Weekend, November 13-14)
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)

2020-2021 Weekend COS DRAFT Course Offerings & Schedule (pdf)

Note: The entire WCOS webpage will be updated for 2020-2021 at a later date, including registration link.


2019-2020 Weekend Hybrid Course of Study

Session I - Residential Weekend, September 13-14, 2019
Session II - Residential Weekend, November 1-2, 2019
Session III - Residential Weekend, January 10-11, 2020
Session IV - Residential Weekend, March 6-7, 2020

2019-2020 Weekend COS Course Offerings & Schedule (pdf) - Session I - IV (updated November 2019 and subject to change)

Advanced COS course descriptions are in the Curriculum section below.

Current Basic Course Residential Weekend Schedule

Friday  Saturday
1:00pm to 2:00pm – Check-in 8:00am to 11:00am – Class period 3
2:00pm to 5:00pm – Class period 1 11:00am to 11:30am – Worship
5:00pm to 5:30pm – Worship 11:30am to 12:15pm – Lunch/Break
5:30pm to 6:15pm – Dinner/Break 12:15pm to 3:15pm – Class period 4
6:15pm to 9:15pm – Class period 2 Contact Hours: 6
Contact Hours: 6  
+ 8 HOURS ONLINE CONTACT HOURS (2 hours per course per week during the 4 online weeks following the residential weekend)
= 20 Total Contact Hours

Current Advanced Course Residential Weekend Schedule

Friday  Saturday
9:30am to 10:00am – Check-in 8:00am to 11:00am – Class period 4
10:00am to 1:00pm – Class period 1 11:00am to 11:30am – Worship
1:00pm to 2:00pm – Light Lunch/Break 11:30am to 12:15pm – Lunch/Break
2:00pm to 5:00pm – Class period 2 12:15pm to 3:15pm – Class period 5
5:00pm to 5:30pm – Worship Contact Hours: 6
5:30pm to 6:15pm – Dinner/Break  
6:15pm to 9:15pm – Class period 3  
Contact Hours: 9
+ 10 HOURS ONLINE CONTACT HOURS (2.5 hours per course per week during the 4 online weeks following the residential weekend)
= 25 Total Contact Hours

Registration Deadlines

Program Session Deadline
Basic and Advanced Session I Friday, July 26, 2019
  Session II Friday, September 13, 2019
  Session III Friday, November 22, 2019
  Session IV Friday, January 17, 2020

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:

Advanced Course Descriptions

January 2020 Session III:

Advanced Church History or Advanced Women's Studies: Medieval and Early Modern Women in Church History

This course can be taken as either ACOS Church History or ACOS Women's Studies. It will explore the lives and writings of several medieval and early modern women in church history, including figures such as Catherine of Siena, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, Argula von Grumbach, Marie Dentiere, and Katharina Schutz Zell. We will discuss these women’s conceptions of their ministries alongside the struggles and support they encountered from male contemporary leaders. Particular attention will be paid to the use of mysticism by medieval women to support their work and the use of prophecy by early modern women to defend their ministries. The class will also highlight these women’s engagement with and interpretation of Scripture.

March 2020 Session IV:

Advanced Preaching

This advanced class begins with a simple conviction — there is no such thing as a generic sermon. Every sermon is deeply contextual — nurtured, challenged, and inspired by the world as it is, by our congregations and communities as they are, and by our lives as we live them. To be a preacher is to be as much an exegete of our contexts as to be an exegete of the scriptures. To preach the sermon is to be faithful to the preaching life, even when and perhaps especially when preaching is hard. We will imagine the preaching occasion of preaching raw versus preaching ripe, preaching when full and preaching when empty, and preaching in spite/despite the tragedies and shortcomings of Saturdays. In this class, we will explore how layers of context shape our preaching and how our preaching, in turn, shapes our context. You will be asked to reflect on your calling to be a preacher for such a time as this. You will imagine and re-imagine your preaching in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. You will mentor other preachers as they develop a homiletical agility that enables them to respond from the pulpit to the surprises of the Spirit and the tragedies of the world. You will find support and counsel in the company of fellow preachers. You will learn, grow and change in how you proclaim "Good News" in a world in desperate need of it.

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 each residential period during any 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

2019-2020 Weekend COS Course Offerings & Schedule (pdf) - Session I - IV (updated November 2019 and subject to change)

Advanced COS course descriptions are in the Curriculum section above.

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.

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 instructors. Basic and Advanced courses will meet at Duke Divinity School for a 2-day, face-to-face residential period, followed by 4 weeks of online coursework. Online work will include tasks such as uploading documents, posting comments, watching videos, etc.

Information related to your course(s) including pre-work 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, 2019 with a transition period through 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, 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.


2019-2020 Registration

Register for Session 1 September WCOS - Closed

Register for Session 2 November WCOS - Closed

Register for Session 3 January WCOS - Closed

Register for Session 4 March WCOS - Closed

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 their 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

August 30, 2019

Session II – November

October 18, 2019

Session III – January

December 27, 2019

Session IV – March

February 21, 2020

Housing, Meals, and Parking


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 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.