Advanced Course of Study

Advanced Course of Study

The Advanced Course of Study curriculum will enable a local pastor to meet the educational requirements for provisional membership, full conference membership and ordination as an elder in The United Methodist Church. Students not seeking ordination but additional education may register for ACOS courses for credit or for Continuing Education Units. 

The purpose of the Advanced Course of Study (ACOS) for Ordained Ministry is to provide a curriculum, which will enable a local pastor to meet the educational requirements for full conference membership and ordination as elder. Local Pastors seeking this route need to have completed the five-year Course of Study program and a bachelor's degree from a college or university recognized by the University Senate.

Local pastors may fulfill the requirements for provisional membership and commissioning when they have:

  • Reached 40 years of age;
  • Satisfied all requirements of Sections 1-3 and 7-14 of ¶ 324;
  • Completed the five year Course of Study for ordained ministry, of which no more than four courses may be taken by correspondence or Internet; and
  • [Completed] an Advanced Course of Study program consisting of 32 semester hours of graduate theological study offered by a seminary recognized by the University Senate; or its equivalent as determined by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry that shall include the areas of United Methodist history, doctrine and polity.

Graduate studies, which parallel courses offered for advanced studies, taken in non-University Senate approved schools may be approved by the GBHEM up to a maximum of nine (9) semester hours. Such studies must have been taken with the last 10 years. Students may complete no more than 10 hours of online or correspondence courses within the Advanced Course of Study. Each student shall have courses recorded by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and these will become a part of their permanent educational record for Boards of Ordained Ministry.

Advanced Course of Study classes will not duplicate those included in the five-year Course of Study curriculum. Advanced Course of Study programs sponsored by COS Schools shall organize their curriculum to build upon the substance of the foundational and functional courses of the five-year COS. These courses are to be vigorous in study, equivalent to master’s degree classes. While all ACOS students are required to complete the United Methodist Studies courses, all other specific course requirements listed in the Book of Discipline have been fulfilled through the five-year COS.

  • The curriculum should parallel the curriculum of the basic graduate theological studies in the Christian faith but the course work should be upper level (not survey) courses as those have been completed through the five-year Course of Study program.
  • All students shall complete upper level courses in the following areas:
    • Old Testament (non-survey course)
    • New Testament (non-survey course)
    • Theology (non-survey course)
    • Church History (non-survey course)
    • United Methodist Doctrine
    • United Methodist Polity
    • United Methodist History
    • Mission of the Church in the World (COS course 513/423 fulfills this requirement)
    • Evangelism (COS course 313/523 fulfills this requirement)
    • Worship/Liturgy (COS course 413/223 fulfills this requirement)
  • In addition, many annual conferences require courses in the following areas, but check with your conference for a complete list:
    • Pastoral Care (COS course 314/323 fulfills this requirement)
    • Homiletics – two courses (this is in addition to COS course 214/324)
    • Worship (this is in addition to COS course 413/223)
    • Pastoral Leadership/Administration (COS courses 124 or 114/224 fulfills this requirement)
    • Clinical Pastoral Care Unit(s)
    • Women’s or Ethnic Studies

Admission Application Requirements

Completed the application form and fee along with the required materials below to the Emory COS office by the appropriate registration deadline.

  • Autobiographical statement: A two- to three-page, typed, double-spaced autobiographical statement is a critical element in the evaluation of your application. Please consider your response carefully, attending to content, style, grammatical correctness and organization of the essay. The statement is a way to introduce yourself to our Academic Honor Committee. With this in mind, write a reflective essay about your life that addresses the following topics:
    • Significant life experiences that have affected your view of self, God and the world. Include references to family members and significant others, courses, and experiences in previous education, church, service-related activities, and employment.
    • Your plans following completion of Advanced Course of Study.
  • Church history statement: Our Review Committee would like to know more about your church journey. Please give a detailed list of appointments you have served since becoming a United Methodist Local Pastor. If you transferred to the UMC from another denomination please include a list of churches you served and what denomination those appointments were with. This outline should include:
    • Appointment name, location, and conference
    • Dates served
    • Position (Associate, Sr. Pastor, Youth Minister, Etc.)
    • One thing that really challenged you at each appointment
  • COS/ACOS Transcript: You can request your transcript(s) from GBHEM by emailing and have them sent directly to the COS Office.

Once all materials are received and reviewed by the Academic Honor Committee, and if accepted you will be registered for courses you have requested. After a student is accepted into the program there is a general registration form that you will need to complete to register for future courses, you only have to complete the application process once. You will also be invoiced for any registration or course fees that are due, minus any annual conference scholarship funding.

Registration Fees

  • Friday/Saturday Weekend Courses are $200 per course
  • 1 Week Summer Session $250
  • 2 Week Summer Session $325
  • 3 Week Summer Session $400
  • Late Fees - if your paper work is submitted after the deadline there is a $25 late fee penalty per course.

Course Fees

Each course has a $500 course fee in addition to the registration fees listed below:

  • 1 Weekend/Summer Course = $500
  • 2 Summer Courses = $1,000
  • 3 Summer Courses = $1,500
  • 4 Summer Courses = $2,000

2016 WINTER: meets January 29-30, 2016 and February 12-13, 2016

  • United Methodist Doctrine (2 credit hours)
  • Registration Deadline: December 15, 2015
  • Continuing Education Units (CEU): If you wish to complete this class as CEU, submit the CEU Registration Form by the registration deadline.

2016 SUMMER: Week 1 - meets July 18-23, 2016

2016 SUMMER: Weeks 2 & 3 - meets July 25-29, 2016 and August 1-5, 2016

  • United Methodist Theology (3 credit hours)
  • Registration Deadline: March 31, 2016
  • Continuing Education Units (CEU): If you wish to complete this class as CEU, submit the CEU Registration Form by the registration deadline.

Continuing Education Credit

The difference between taking an Advanced Course of Study class for Academic Credit or for Continuing Education Credit is as follows:

  • Those who register for academic credit will receive a grade for the course and complete all the course reading and writing assignments.
  • Those registering for Continuing Education Credit will have the opportunity to fully participate in the course without completing the written assginments.

If you are interested in registering for an ACOS course for the information and not the academic credit this is the perfect option and way to receive Continuing Education Units (CEUs). All UM pastors are required to complete CEUs each year (COS counts in place of CEUs until you graduate).

If you opt for the Continuing Education Units you will not be eligible to receive a grade for the course, but you would be responsible for reading all the course materials, attending all the class sessions, and you should be prepared to actively participate in the conversation. You would not be required to submit any of the precourse work nor course work during the class time.  The faculty will not grade any material submitted as you have not registered to take the class for academic credit. Once you register for a course via CEU you cannot start the course and then shift to credit, you must select credit or CEU from the start, and the same is true from credit to CEU.

Registration Process and Fees

Complete the registration form and submit to the Course of Study Office with the appropriate registration fee. There is a $200 per-class registration fee.  If you want to attend classes during summer school and wish to stay on-campus you are responsible for the cost of housing and parking which is $325 per-week for a Private/Family apartment ($650 2 weeks, $975 3 weeks). For those who commute during summer school and weekend school you will be responsible for paying for your own parking in one of the Emory visitor lots. If you are attending a weekend only class you are also responsible for all your housing arrangements if needed. 

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"As pastors, there are few opportunities for us to worship without leading. This may be the best part of COS--there is good music, good preaching, and a place to receive amazing grace. Don't miss the opportunity to re-fill your Spiritual tank."
-Ann Hatcher, Tennessee Conference