ALCOS Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures

The Course of Study (COS) is prescribed by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) – Division of Ordained Ministry (DOM) ¶1421.3d, 2016 Book of Discipline.  In prescribing the COS, the Division of Ordained Ministry is responsible for developing curriculum, purpose and learning goals; providing resources; establishing, maintaining, and evaluating Course of Study Schools and Extension COS Schools, keeping records of all students, and reporting on student progress to each Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) every year. 

The Course of Study is a Five-Year Basic Curriculum Plan providing local pastors a yearend-round experiential and classroom learning process.  It consists of twenty classes focusing on the Bible, Theology, Congregational Care and Pastoral Identity.

The Alabama Course of Study School (ALCOS) is an Extension Course of Study School of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.  Its primary purpose is to provide educational opportunities and train part-time local pastors in The United Methodist ChurchALCOS is jointly sponsored by the North Alabama and Alabama-West Florida Conferences of the United Methodist Church.  

ALCOS operates under the Guidelines of GBHEM and the Emory Course of Study School and all actions will be authorized under the auspices of the ALCOS Board of Managers.

Integrity of the Alabama Course of Study School

ALCOS will make every effort to preserve the integrity of Course of Study Schools by maintaining accountability and adhering to the policies of the Division of Ordained Ministry of the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry; to the Emory Course of Study School; to the North Alabama and Alabama-West Florida Conferences of the United Methodist Church.  ALCOS will work to and maintain high academic standards through faculty selection, syllabi, and grading.

Student Eligibility for Course of Study

The Alabama Course of Study is open to part-time, licensed local pastors who are under appointment in their Conference (exceptions to the appointment requirement can be made with the approval of the Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM). They are required to take a minimum of two courses per year; but may take more.  Part-time local pastors must complete the Basic Course of Study program within twelve (12) years.

Full-time licensed local pastors are not eligible to take classes with the Alabama Course of Study School. Full-time local pastors are required by The United Methodist Church to complete a minimum of four (4) courses per year through an approved Regional Course of Study School or the online curriculum prescribed by GBHEM. Full-time local pastors must complete the Basic Course of Study within eight (8) years.

Students must have passed a preliminary reading test or a Test of Adult Basic Education prior to licensing school and their conference shall confirm their ability to complete Course of Study work.

Part-time local pastors in any conference of The United Methodist Church are allowed to attend classes in the Alabama Course of Study School with the approval of their District Superintendent and their Conference Board of Ordained Ministry Registrar.

College/Seminary/Graduate School Credits

Students wishing to attend Course of Study classes and have credits from a college/seminary/graduate school transferred to the Course of Study program, must submit their school transcript to the Board of Ordained Ministry at their respective conference, along with a general description of his/her educational background. This information will then be sent to the Division of Ordained Ministry at GBHEM for evaluation. A transcript for the students will be generated by GBHEM showing grades and credited classes.

Registering with GBHEM

New students to the Course of Study program, must register with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville.  Send an email to: requesting a PID# (Personal Identification Number).  You will need this number throughout your Course of Study experience.  GBHEM will need your full name, mailing address, date of birth, and conference.

Student Transcripts

Student grades are maintained by the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry in Nashville.  Student transcripts may be obtained from the GBHEM by emailing  Include your full name and PID# in this email.  Request transcripts periodically to make sure you do not duplicate a class.

Class Registration / Cancellation / Withdrawal

Students must complete the registration form in its entirety.  Registration information is on the ALCOS website:  Students can complete the printable form and mail a check for the registration fee (made payable to the North Alabama Conference) or you can register using the online form and pay with a credit card. 

Approval must be obtained from the student’s District Superintendent and the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry Registrar. The signature of the DS verifies that the students meets the eligibility requirements, and the signature of the Conference Registrar guarantees the student will receive the scholarship for the course fee to be paid to ALCOS.

Registering for a class is a commitment to prepare for and attend the class; please take this commitment seriously.  In the event a student cannot attend a course for which they have registered, the student must notify the ALCOS office by email as soon as possible prior to the first class session to cancel attendance. The registration fee will not be refunded or transferred to another class. However, the conference will not be charged the tuition fee. If a student fails to cancel with the ALCOS staff and does not attend the weekend, he/she will be considered a “No Show” and the student or the annual conference will be required to pay the course fee.

After the course begins, if a student withdraws from a class, he/she may be granted an Administrative Withdrawal. He must contact the ALCOS office and the professor of the class by email stating the need and reason to withdraw. Approval for the Administrative Withdrawal must be granted by the ALCOS Registrar and is done only in emergency circumstances. It will be necessary for the student to start over when taking the class again.

Classes will be taught with enrollment of eight students or more; however, consideration will be given to approve a minimum of five students for the class. Every effort will be made to enroll the minimum of eight students in each class at least one month prior to the beginning of the session; however, any class not reaching the five student enrollment minimum will be cancelled. Students will be offered the opportunity to enroll in another class during the session. Registration fees will be refunded or transferred to another class if a class is cancelled.


Advance Preparation / PreCourse Assignments

Advance preparation for a class is required of all students. Assignments will include material related to classroom studies, books, as well as experiences in pastoral ministry. A current syllabus for class assignments and PreCourse work may be obtained from our website: Follow instructions on the syllabus for assignment due dates and to submit your work.  We all have deadlines that govern our lives. It is crucial that you take seriously your commitment to complete the prework assignments by the deadline. Extensions are granted only by the instructor for extenuating circumstances and late work will be penalized. For your protection keep copies of your assignments.


Student Tuition

The tuition fees are set by the ALCOS Board of Managers. The $75 registration fee is used to pay administrative costs and is non-refundable and cannot be transferred to another class if the student cancels. The $300 tuition fee for each class covers stipend and expenses for the professors and is usually paid by the student’s Annual Conference.  Out of state students will be billed for their tuition as they register, due before the first class.

Class Attendance

The standard number of class hours for each of the basic courses in a minimum of twenty (20). A student is expected to attend every class session, including opening and closing worship. A student who needs to miss a portion of any class period (due to illness or in emergency situations only) must notify the instructor prior to the session and must satisfactorily complete the make-up work assigned by the faculty member and view recorded session of a Zoom meeting.  A student missing twenty percent (20%) or more of the classroom work shall not receive credit for those classes.

Class Sessions

Class Sessions are held four times per year.  With the Covid 19 Pandemic restrictions, classes are currently being held online by Zoom and/or Moodle Learning Management System.


The ALCOS uses curriculum developed by Division of Ordained Ministry, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. This curriculum is designed to ground local pastors in core competencies of biblical interpretation, historical and theological understanding, congregational leadership, and pastoral effectiveness. Classes should be a theologically sound educational experience, designed and taught to satisfy the Course of Study objectives and outcomes. To that end, students complete significant reading and writing assignments as assigned by the instructor for the course, either in advance of the class or during class time. Faculty follows textbook guidelines as provided by GBHEM. Students are expected to complete assignments, papers, and projects equivalent to 20 pages per course. Students are expected to take classes in the sequence prescribed by the COS curriculum. At a minimum, students are expected to take first year courses in the first year and fifth year courses in the final year of study with COS 524 being the final class. COS 121 and COS 122 are considered foundational classes for all other classes; therefore, beginning students must take COS 121 and COS 122 before taking any other class.


ALCOS faculty uses letter grades, A, B, C, D, or F including + or -. A grade of C- or below will not be accepted as a passing grade without special approval from the Board of Ordained Ministry representative of the conference. Grade reports will be sent to each student, GBHEM, the student’s annual conference, and the Regional COS Director.

Completion of the Course of Study Program

Students completing the Course of Study Program, twenty (20) classes, no matter where the classes were taken, are candidates for graduation. Students should complete an application for graduation form and return it to the ALCOS office. Student transcripts will be obtained from the Registrar at GBHEM to determine that all classes have been completed and that the student is currently enrolled in their final class. Once the determination has been made and the faculty member confirms the student will receive a passing grade for the class, the student and his/her invited guests will be honored at the closing worship service. He/she will receive a Certificate of Completion from the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 Compliance

ALCOS shall comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 regarding any student with a disability. This act guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. Each occurrence of a student with a disability will be dealt with on an individual basis and every effort will be made to accommodate the student’s needs.


ALCOS Faculty

Faculty selections are chosen from United Methodist theological schools, United Methodist church clergy and lay persons and other leading authorities in their field.  Attention to ethnic diversity, gender inclusiveness and language competency shall be given in the selection of faculty.

Candidates for faculty are selected by the ALCOS staff using the guidelines provided by GBHEM. Amy Walker of the Emory Course of Study will review the credentials and academic qualifications for each candidate, conduct a personal interview and has final approval.


ALCOS Board of Managers

The ALCOS Board of Managers is responsible for overseeing the general operations of the school, in consultation and collaboration with the regional director. The Board of Managers is comprised of the director of the Emory COS, the director of ALCOS, the conference treasurer and representatives of the North Alabama and Alabama-West Florida Conferences. Those representatives are as follows from each annual conference: The Director or a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the chair of the local pastor section, the registrar of the local pastor section, and a district superintendent. Members of the Board shall also include one student representative from each conference. an alumni representative from each conference, a faculty representative and the ALCOS registrar.


The Registrar for ALCOS is Peggy Ryan.  She maintains the ALCOS office located at St. Andrews United Methodist Church.  Email:

Jim Ryan maintains our website and Facebook page and assists students with IT problems for online classes.  Email:

Facebook:  Search for Alabama Course of Study and request to join the private group.

Mailing address:

Alabama Course of Study School

615 Main Avenue, SW

Cullman, AL  35055

Office/cell phone 256-747-3329,

ALCOS operates under the guidance of Amy Walker, Emory Course of Study School.  Email:

Peggy Ryan 2022


Administrative Policies


Alabama Course of Study School Academic Honor Code Policy

Student Academic Honor - The Alabama Course of Study School has a high standard for academic honor by all students. Materials submitted by a student in fulfilling his or her academic requirements must be the original work of the student. Violations of academic honor includes any action by a student indicating dishonesty or lack of integrity in academic ethics. Violations include, but are not limited to, cheating and plagiarism.

Cheating – includes seeking, acquiring, or passing on information about the content of an examination prior to its authorized release or during administration. Cheating also includes seeking, using, giving, or obtaining unauthorized assistance in any academic assignment or examination. Cheating is more than a violation of rules. It is a violation of the “Honor Code,” a covenant relationship shared by the students, faculty, and administration of ALCOS to maintain academic honesty.

Plagiarism – is an act of presenting the work of another (whether published or unpublished), for information taken from the internet, and for the work of another student, as one’s own work. A writer’s work should be regarded as his or her own property. Any person who knowingly uses a writer’s distinctive work without proper acknowledgement is guilty of plagiarism. Studying together is allowed, but all written work submitted must be the student’s own work. It is also permitted to have someone proofread written work before it is submitted to check for spelling and grammatical errors.

Plagiarism Defined - You plagiarize when, intentionally or not, you use someones words or ideas but fail to credit that person. You plagiarize even when you do credit the author but use his exact words without so indicating with quotation marks or block indentation. You also plagiarize when you use words so close to those in your source, that if your work were placed next to the source, it would be obvious that you could not have written what you did without the source at your elbow. When accused of plagiarism, some writers claim, I must have somehow memorized the passage. When I wrote it, I certainly thought it was my own. That excuse convinces very few.”1


1.  From page 167 of The Craft of Research by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb and Joseph M. Williams published in 1995 by the University of Chicago Press in Chicago.

Any student believed to have been cheating or plagiarizing another’s work will be subject to review by an Academic Honor Review Committee.

                Guidelines for Addressing an Allegation of Cheating/Plagiarism

Faculty member reports any incident of cheating/plagiarism to Amy Walker, Assistant Director, Emory University COS, hereinafter referred to as director.

1) First Violation

  • The director creates a committee composed of the director and two faculty members chosen by the director.
  • The committee will convene as soon as possible to discuss the incident and to determine whether cheating has taken place. If cheating is found to have indeed occurred, the committee will decide what course of action is to be taken. Any decisions made will be communicated directly to the student or students involved by the director of ALCOS.
  • Possible actions may include a warning, require the work to be done again, a grade of D or F for the assignment or a grade of F for the course.

2) Second Violation

  • The director creates a committee composed of the director, two faculty members and the student(s) district superintendent.
  • The committee will convene as soon as possible to discuss the incident and to determine whether cheating has taken place. If cheating is found to have indeed occurred, the committee will decide what course of action is to be taken. Any decisions made will be communicated directly to the student or students involved by the director.
  • Possible actions may include a grade of F for the course or a suspension for the remainder of the term

3) Third Violation 

  • Permanent suspension from Course of Study.

Alabama Course of Study School

Harassment Policy

The Alabama Course of Study School is committed by Christian faith for justice for all persons and does not tolerate any behavior, verbal or physical, by any person associated with the school, which constitutes sexual or racial harassment against any other person associated with the school. Any person of the Alabama Course of Study community who believes that he or she has been subjected to harassment, sexual or racial, should immediately report the situation to Amy Walker, Emory University COS, hereinafter referred to as director or the ALCOS Board of Managers Chair. When reporting a complaint, the individual should be prepared to furnish accurate information (i.e., date, name, and facts). All such complaints will be treated in a confidential manner as far as possible, while permitting ALCOS to investigate the complaint thoroughly and to take appropriate action.

The school expects the cooperation of all members of the school community with respect to avoiding such harassment. The school will investigate all complaints. If it is determined after an investigation that a member of the school community has violated this policy, he or she will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action up to an including suspension or termination from the school. In addition, a full report will be made to that person’s annual conference or judicatory body.

Sexual Harassment

 Definition - Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including inappropriate emails, texts, posts, or communications of any type of a sexual nature may constitute sexual harassment when:

  • submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, as a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing;
  • or submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic standing decisions affecting such an individual;
  • or such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or study performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or studying environment.

Racial Harassment

Definition - Any conduct or communication of any type directed against a person with the purpose or effect of insulting, degrading, or abusing him/her because of his/her racial background.

The Alabama Course of Study School is committed to using the process outlined below to deal with allegations of sexual or racial harassment within the school community. A sexual or racial harassment allegation may be resolved on an informal basis. 

Any member of the school community who wishes to make a formal complaint shall submit a written and signed complaint giving a description of the incident to the director or the ALCOS Board of Managers Chair. The accused shall be notified of the complaint in writing within 14 days of the complaint being submitted.

Allegations shall be investigated by the director and The Officers of the Board of Managers. The investigation shall include a meeting with the person complainant and a meeting with the person alleged to have engaged in the harassment. The accused and/or the complainant may bring a trusted colleague (other than an attorney), committed to maintaining confidentiality, with him/her to such a meeting.

The Director and the Board of Mangers Officers shall take steps to ensure that all parties are heard and have opportunity to explain their position.

The complainant and the person complained against shall be notified in writing of the disposition of the complaint. If the disposition involves any ongoing process the Director shall keep the parties informed until the process is complete.

Decisions of the ALCOS Director and The Officers of the Board of Managers investigating the allegations are final.

If it is determined that inappropriate behavior has occurred, the individual shall be terminated from participation in the ALCOS. In addition, the ALCOS Director shall inform the terminated individual’s District Superintendent and Board of Ordained Ministry annual conference or judicatory body of the action taken. 

Persons terminated for such violations may after 1 year re-apply to the Board of Managers for consideration of being re-admitted to the program. Such individual must present written support for the application from their District Superintendent and Board of Ordained Ministry. The Board of Managers shall determine any necessary steps, requirements, or stipulations if the application is granted.

Decisions of the ALCOS Director and The Officers of the Board of Managers investigating these allegations are final.


Confidentiality shall be maintained by all parties while the complaint is investigated. 

Retaliation against any member of the school community or investigation team will not be tolerated. Anyone guilty of such activity shall be removed from ALCOS permanently.

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