Deadline for Course of Study School (COSS) Summer Session is May 15, 2020

A Spanish-language version of this release is available here


DALLAS (SMU) – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 summer session of Perkins School of Theology’s Course of Study School will be taught online. The first summer session runs July 6 – July 24; the second session is July 27 – August 14. Deadline for applications is May 15.

“In the past few years, students have been on campus for the first week of classes and then completed the work online in the following two weeks,” said the Rev. Dr. Paul Barton, who directs the program. “This year, the program will be fully online for the health and safety of our students and faculty.”

The Course of Study School (COSS) is a program of The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of The United Methodist Church, in partnership with and administered by Perkins. It provides a basic theological education, as prescribed by the United Methodist Book of Discipline (par. 1421.3d), to licensed local pastors. The Basic Course of Study is a 20-course curriculum required of all licensed local pastors who are not enrolled in a seminary degree program. In late March, GBHEM staff recommended that all regional programs not hold classes on their campuses in June and July.

At Perkins, Course of Study School summer classes are offered in both English and Spanish. Perkins is one of only two theology schools in the U.S. authorized by GBHEM to provide the Course of Study in Spanish. Enrollment in the Spanish language program has grown steadily as Perkins’ Course of Study School expanded on a number of fronts. Last year, 90 students were enrolled, 27 of them in the Spanish language program, the highest total in recent years.

In 2017-2018, the program transitioned to a hybrid format, combining both residential and online learning, allowing students to spend just one week on campus and complete the remaining two weeks online. Barton expects the program will return to that hybrid format after the pandemic.

“Once the outbreak of COVID-19 has passed and public gatherings are safe, we will return to our normal manner of delivering COSS,” he said.

In February 2020, the program expanded from its previous summer-only schedule to begin offering two courses in the spring semester and even more courses in the fall semester at Perkins. In addition, Perkins oversees three extension schools that offer courses for part-time local pastors: the Texas Annual Conference Extension, taught on Saturdays, with six courses in the spring (March – May) and fall (September – November) semesters; the North Texas Annual Conference Extension, which offers classes in the spring, summer and fall; and the Arkansas Annual Conference Extension, which offers Saturday classes at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.

The program also recently added two satellite Schools – in 2018, one in the Western Jurisdiction, taught in Spanish; and in 2020, at the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. Those are in addition to the established satellite School at McMurry University, with classes meeting once a month on Saturdays in the spring and fall.

This year, the program is also opening up opportunities to audit courses for continuing education to certified lay ministers involved in full-time ministry, and to clergy and pastors from United Methodist churches as well as other denominations.

“We are always looking for ways to adapt to changing times,” Barton said.

The Basic Course of Study curriculum includes 20 courses in four tracks: Theological Heritage, Pastoral Identity, Congregational Ministry and Bible. Students receive a certificate of completion when they complete the entire 20 courses. Completion of Basic Course of Study makes the local pastor eligible for Associate Membership in the annual conference. Those who complete the Basic course may opt to continue in the Advanced Course of Study, which is designed to fulfill requirements for probationary and full membership in an annual conference and ordination where a non-seminary option is offered.

For questions about registration, please call 214-768-2265 or email coss@smu.edu. Download the Course of Study brochure here