Professional Certification

Professional certification is available to lay, licensed, or ordained leaders who have an undergraduate degree and can take graduate-level courses. It is also for those preparing to become deacons and who choose the deacon education route for those 35 and older.

Enrolling in the Certification Process

You should determine the area of certification you wish to pursue and apply to a theological school that offers the program.

Once the school has accepted you, enroll with General Board of Higher Education and Ministry by completing the form.

Send copies of the form to your conference Board of Ordained Ministry registrar and to the Certification Coordinator at General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (the address is on the form). Your pastor can provide you contact information for your Board of Ordained Ministry.

Once GBHEM receives and approves your enrollment form, you may be eligible for financial aid for the courses required for certification.

Students have 10 years to complete their certification courses.

Applying for Certification Approval

You are ready to apply for approval of certification when you have completed all the certification coursework and have at least two years of paid or volunteer (supervised) work experience in your area of certification specialty.

To apply:

  • Complete the Application for Professional Certification and make three copies.
  • Send a copy to your annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry registrar. (This applies to lay and clergy.)
  • Send a copy of the application, along with a copy of your undergraduate and graduate transcripts, to the Certification Coordinator, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), P. O. Box 340007, Nashville, TN 37203-0007.
  • Keep the third copy for your records.

Undergoing the Board of Ordained Ministry Examination

The Board of Ordained Ministry uses three areas to assess your qualifications for certification:

  • Educational Requirements: Check the curriculum list for your area of certification to make sure you have completed all the necessary courses. General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s certification coordinator will review the transcript you send with your application.
  • Leadership Experience: Your conference Board of Ordained Ministry will confirm whether you have adequate paid or volunteer leadership experience in the United Methodist Church or an ecumenical setting. Experience must entail contractual agreement with supervision, accountability, evaluation, and continuing education. Be prepared to provide a written job description and contractual arrangements, in writing, with clear lines of responsibility and accountability.
  • An In-person Interview and these evaluation sources:
    • Favorable references from three people whose contact information you provide.
    • A psychological assessment and criminal background check.
    • Verification of your local church membership, abilities, skills, experience.
    • Verification of your employment or leadership position in your chosen field.
    • Verification from GBHEM that you have completed the education requirements

After the examination, the annual conference board will notify you and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of their decision regarding your request for certification. If both your Board of Ordained Ministry and GBHEM approve you for certification, GBHEM will prepare a certificate and send it to your bishop’s office, for presentation at the next annual conference session.

Renewing Certification

The continuing validity of certification is dependent upon biennial renewal and it is important to keep your certification up to date and valid.

You should ask your annual conference Board of Ordained Ministry for the GBHEM certification renewal form (or download here and submit it to your Board of Ordained Ministry). All renewals are processed in even-numbered years.

Renewal requires demonstration of continued employment in the area of certification, a performance evaluation by your supervisor, and completion of continuing education work, as well as approval by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

You are also expected to participate in continuing education programs and a professional association related to your area of certified ministry specialization.

If you are not employed or are not serving in a United Methodist setting, the Board of Ordained Ministry may still consider your request for certification renewal.

Transferring to a Different Annual Conference

When a person with ministry specialty certification transfers from one annual conference to another, that person should write to the Board of Ordained Ministry of the receiving conference. The Board will review the request and communicate with the originating conference to send them the requestor’s certification file. The receiving conference shall keep the file as long as the person remains part of the annual conference.