Nurturing Leaders. Changing Lives.

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Lead on. We're with you.

For those who’ve heard God’s call to leadership, we’re here to make the journey with you, connecting you with what you need to flourish as difference-makers. That’s our commitment as the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. GBHEM.

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Licensing and Course of Study

If God is calling you to become a pastor, but you do not see seminary as a reality for you, then you may want to consider becoming a local pastor. We welcome you to the start of a new faith journey.

The Course of Study

The Course of Study (COS) is prescribed by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry – Division of Ordained Ministry (¶ 1421.3d). It includes License School and the Five-Year Basic Course of Study. In prescribing the COS, the Division of Ordained Ministry is responsible for developing curriculum, purpose and learning goals; providing resources; establishing, maintaining, and evaluating License Schools and Course of Study Schools (COS); keeping central records on all students, and reporting on student progress to each Board of Ordained Ministry every year.


The Basic Five-Year Course of Study is a year-round experiential and classroom learning process. This process assumes cooperation between the instructors in the Course of Study Schools and the clergy mentors in the annual conferences. Each Regional Course of Study School shall offer all 20 courses of the Basic Five-Year COS and shall seek to meet the needs of both the full-time and part-time local pastors. Normally courses are to be taken in the sequence prescribed by the curriculum. At a minimum, students are expected to take first year courses in the first year of study and fifth year courses in the final year of study.

Regional Course of Study Schools

Regional Course of Study Schools are established by the Division of Ordained Ministry at locations central to the student populations, taking into consideration such factors as availability of United Methodist theological school faculty, library resources, dormitory space, the density of student populations, etc. Full time local pastors shall attend one of the approved Regional Course of Study Schools.

Extension Schools for Part-Time Local Pastors

Some local pastors serve churches on a part-time basis. Some of them are bi-vocational and are unable to attend a Regional Course of Study School. In such cases, where numbers make it sustainable, The Division of Ordained Ministry authorizes a Regional School to have an Extension site. These classes are available in a week end format. 

Online Basic Course of Study Classes

A limited number of the Basic Course of Study classes are available in an online format through the Division of Ordained Ministry. By Discipline, no more than one-half of the classes may be taken in this format. ¶322.1(3) For more information, please click here.

Advanced Course of Study

After completing the basic Course of Study, a local pastor may choose to continue the process toward Provisional membership through the Advanced Course of Study. It includes 32 hours of Masters level education in a seminary recognized by the University Senate. It must include United Methodist History, United Methodist Doctrine and United Methodist Polity  (¶324.6d).

United Methodist Studies Online

 The Division of Ordained Ministry offers the United Methodist Studies in an online format. For more information, please click here.

Need More Information?

Connect with us via email or phone for any questions or concerns you might have.