Course of Study for Ordained Ministry

The Course of Study for Ordained Ministry has been established by the 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.

Duke Divinity School cooperates with the General Board to offer the Course of Study program each summer and on a part-time basis 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 in a printable format, please see the Program Guidelines (pdf).

Which Course of Study is right for you?

  • Full-time local pastors are required by the Board of Higher Education and Ministry to attend summer session courses. They may attend weekend courses on an exceptional basis only with the permission of their Annual Conference local pastor registrar and the Course of Study Director.
  • Part-time local pastors may attend weekend or summer sessions.
  • Advanced courses, for pastors who have completed the basic course of study and are seeking ordination in full connection or simply want to continue their learning, are offered in both the summer and the weekend sessions.

Course of Study Tracks & Information


Summer Course of Study
July 5-16 and July 19-30, 2015

Duke Divinity School offers the Summer Course of Study in two two-week sessions:

Summer Session 1

  • Registration & Orientation: July 5
  • Class Sessions: July 6-16

Summer Session 2

  • Registration & Orientation: July 19
  • Class Sessions: July 20-30

Students may enroll in two courses each session. Students may enroll in either session or both sessions, depending on their academic and pastoral needs.

Note: Enrollment is not complete until all application materials and fees have been received by the Course of Study office.

Learn more and apply


Weekend Course of Study

Weekend Sessions for Course of Study for Ordained Ministry are designed for part-time local pastors who cannot attend the month-long summer program. Classes meet for three consecutive weekends (Friday 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. and Saturday 8:00 a.m. – noon) at the Divinity School. Students complete one course in each weekend session and complete one year of study by completing all four weekend sessions.

Updated Curriculum

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry implemented a new Course of Study curriculum for all COS programs since the Fall of 2014. This new curriculum has been 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 the Fall of 2014 will be given credit for courses taken under the old curriculum OR their new equivalent. Additional information about the new COS curriculum can be found below, as well as worksheets to assist students in tracking their progress in the COS program:

Students who have questions or concerns regarding the new COS curriculum are encouraged to contact Duke Divinity School’s Course of Study office.

COS Policies

Attendance Policy
Students are expected to attend all 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 Board of Higher Education and Ministry, a student missing more than 20 percent of 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 and class representative 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 loyal 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 life appropriate to Christian faith and to the dignity of their calling.

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.

Official transcripts for Course of Study work are available through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry; contact Pamela Frost ( or call (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 signing their application to the Course of Study program, students indicate their willingness to abide by all policies outlined in these program guidelines.

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 may 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 Director to discuss appropriate accommodations.

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.

No form of harassment is acceptable at Duke University. It is inconsistent with the University's commitments to excellence and respect for all individuals. Duke University is also committed to the free and vigorous discussion of ideas and issues, which the University believes will be protected by this policy.