COS/ACOS Online Course of Study Terms and Policies
From the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church, Division of Ordained Ministry
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Effective January 1, 2015; Revised Nov. 8, 2021; May 27, 2022
The registration fee for an online class is due on the date stated in the email requesting payment after all approvals to take the course are received. It is nonrefundable and nontransferable toward any other class. A student will not receive a link to log into a class until the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) has received the registration form with the required approvals of annual conference officials and the registration fee.
COS 121 (Bible 1: Introduction) and COS 122 (Theological Heritage 1: Introduction) are prerequisites for enrollment in any other Course of Study courses.
COS 121 and 122 are foundational courses that provide basic instruction and a shared language for Biblical interpretation and theological reflection in the United Methodist ethos. These courses prepare students for the upper-level coursework required in the COS curriculum. A shared biblical and theological foundation is particularly important as many local pastors come from non-United Methodist traditions.
Local pastors must complete all COS courses before taking ACOS courses
Drop / Withdraw from a Class
A student may drop / withdraw from a class by notifying the instructor via email within 30 days of the class start date. The student must copy the GBHEM Course of Study Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) on the email request to the instructor.
If the student follows these steps, their official Course of Study Transcript will indicate Withdrawal (W) from the class. The GBHEM COS Office will confirm approval of the withdrawal via email to the student and the instructor. The student will not receive a tuition or registration refund or credit. If the student fails to complete the class work by the end of the class and has not requested to withdraw, they will receive a failing grade (F) for the class.
Administrative Withdrawal from a Class
On rare occasions, such as when the student or close family member experiences a health crisis, GBHEM will consider allowing an administrative withdrawal from a class. Students must request such prior to the end of a 10-week class. The student must make the request of the instructor by email (copying the Course of Study Office at email@example.com), stating the reason for the request. If the instructor and GBHEM agree to the administrative withdrawal, they will inform the student via email.
If GBHEM has agreed to the administrative withdrawal, the student may, upon request, receive a 50 percent tuition credit toward his / her next GBHEM online Course of Study class. This credit expires 12 months after the date of withdrawal.
Please note that the course from which the student withdrew may not be offered again within 12 months. Further, textbooks or assignments may change even if the same course is offered within the 12-month period.
Attendance and Participation
The term of an online GBHEM Course of Study course is ten weeks. The student must log into the course and submit at least one completed course assignment within two weeks of the start date of the term. If the student does not submit the first assignment within two weeks of the start date of the term, the student will be dropped from the course automatically and receive a failing grade (F).
Initial logins to a course will not be possible two weeks after the course’s start date. Students should log into the course the first week. The student is responsible to contact the instructor in advance via email if he or she cannot submit the first assignment by the deadline. All courses include one or more assignment(s) and/or discussion forum(s) due during the first week of the term. The student may receive a lower grade, at the discretion of the instructor, for submitting late assignments.
Students are expected to participate in the discussion forums. Students who do not participate in the discussion forums will not receive a passing grade. The purpose of the forums is to support the growth in perspective on issues and ideas pertinent to the student’s own academic and spiritual growth and development. Forums are not opinion chats but are guided discussions on pertinent topics and ideas related to the course. Directions for the forums are given within the course assignments.
No Future Online Course Enrollment Policy
If a student has failed to successfully complete three online courses (in three consecutive or non-consecutive terms), the student may not enroll and take any other GBHEM COS/ACOS online courses in the future.
Rationale: Failing a course, not completing a course, or withdrawing from a course(s) three times indicates that a student needs to take the COS or ACOS course in a face-to-face format which provides the student with direct access to the instructor as well as more built-in time management strategies, and specifically scheduled class meetings. Please consult the GBHEM website for a complete listing of schools offering COS/ACOS courses.
It is expected that students take COS courses for credit. Under special circumstances, an audit may be approved.
Course of Study courses will only be open for auditing if there is room in the course after people who need the course for credit have registered and/or by exception.
Students who want to audit a Course of Study course must receive audit permission from GBHEM prior to beginning the pre-registration process. Contact the COS office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students with audit permission must pre-register for the course using the online COS/ACOS registration process, receive approval from their district superintendent and conference registrar, and pay for the course.
Auditors are expected to participate in discussion forums and complete all work in the course.
Auditors will receive a pass/fail grade on a grade report sent to them at the end of the course. Students are responsible for sharing the grade report with their conference. Audits are not recorded on GBHEM transcripts.
No course credit is given for a course that is audited.
If you don't remember your password, click on the "Forgotten your username or password?" link on the login page and follow the directions on the screen to receive an email with a link to log in and reset your password.
If you need additional help logging in, contact the Course of Study Office at email@example.com as quickly as possible.
Deadlines and Pacing
Weekly due dates are included for each learning activity in the course (such as assignments, discussion forums, quizzes, etc.). Students work at their own pace within each week to meet the stated deadlines throughout the 10-week term.
Students should read through the entire course syllabus as soon as the term opens in order to plan their work to meet deadlines. Students are expected to submit work in the order in which it appears in the course. In some cases, students may be required to complete an assignment before moving on to the next one. The instructor may mark down the grades of coursework submitted late.
Students should schedule their time carefully. Those who fall more than two weeks behind will have difficulty completing the course with a passing grade. Note: Some annual conferences will not reimburse the student’s tuition if the student does not receive a passing grade (a C or better in most conferences).
The grading scale for COS/ACOS courses is A, B, C, D, and F. Ungraded notations include Withdrawal (W) and Administrative Withdrawal (AW).
Students taking courses for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are graded on a Pass/Fail basis based on evidence of reading and participation.
Students seeking an extension for submitting assignments must request it of the instructor and GBHEM before the course end date. This request must be made via email to the instructor, copied to the Course of Study Office (firstname.lastname@example.org). The request must cite an acceptable reason to grant the extension.
Extensions are granted at the discretion of the instructor. The instructor may grant an extension if the instructor believes the student can finish all the class work to a passing standard within two weeks following the end of the course. Longer extensions of up to four weeks maximum may be approved upon consultation of the instructor with GBHEM.
After the maximum four-week extension, the instructor has two weeks to grade assignments. An instructor has the discretion to lower the grade of assignments received during the extension period, particularly for resubmitted, rewritten assignments.
Submission of Final Course Assignments, Access to Grades, and Completion of the Course Evaluation
All coursework must be submitted in Moodle by the last day of the course (unless an extension is granted).
Course evaluations are due within one week following the end of the course.
Faculty will post all grades and feedback in Moodle within three weeks following the end of the course.
Students can view and download a final grade report after final grades become available online. A final grade report will be emailed to students four weeks after the term ends (or three weeks after an extension deadline).
Students will have read-only access to the Moodle course for four weeks following the last day of the course in order to view grades and feedback from the instructor.
Students granted an official extension by the instructor will continue to submit their work in Moodle until the extension deadline. See the "Extensions" section above for policies regarding extensions.
Faculty will submit all grades for students granted an extension within two weeks following the extension deadline.
Students granted official extensions will have read-only access to view grades and feedback from the instructor for three weeks following the extension deadline.
As clergy in covenant with the United Methodist Church, Course of Study students are expected to uphold the highest ideals of the Christian life (The Book of Discipline, para. 304.2). Academic work is one arena in which clergy are expected to act with integrity and honesty. Violations of academic honor include any action by a student that indicates dishonesty or lack of integrity in academic ethics. Violations in this category include, but are not limited to, cheating and plagiarism.
Cheating includes seeking, acquiring, receiving, or passing on information about the content of an examination prior to its authorized release or during its administration. Cheating also includes seeking, using, giving, or obtaining unauthorized assistance in any academic assignment or examination. Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s work as one’s own. This rule holds true for unpublished as well as published works, information taken from the Internet, and the work of other students.
Plagiarism is a combination of lying (claiming that one has done certain work when one has not) and stealing (writers regard their work as their property).
“You plagiarize when, intentionally or not, you use someone’s words or ideas and fail to credit that person. You plagiarize even when you do credit the author but use his or her 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.” (From The Craft of Research by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams [The University of Chicago Press, 1995], p. 167.)
While students are allowed to study together, all written work must be submitted in the student’s own words. Students may also ask someone to proofread written work before it is submitted, to check only for spelling and grammatical errors.
Penalties for cheating or plagiarism
- In the case of a first offense, faculty may, at their discretion, apply any of the following penalties, depending on the severity of the offense:
- issue a warning
- require the student to redo the assignment
- assign a grade of D or F/0 for the assignment
- assign a grade of F for the course
- In the case of subsequent offenses, faculty and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry will institute one or a combination of these penalties:
- a grade of F for the course
- suspension for the remainder of the term
- dismissal from the Course of Study School
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry will also send notice of the multiple violations and their penalty to the student’s Board of Ordained Ministry.
(Honor code adapted from the Memphis / Tennessee / Holston Conference Course of Study and Candler Course of Study School.)
Final course grades are generally available in Moodle three weeks after the end of the term.
Grade Reports for the GBHEM COS/ACOS online program are provided to the student, the GBHEM COS/ACOS records office, and the student's Conference Registrar six weeks after the term ends.
A complete transcript of the student's COS/ACOS courses is provided to the student's Conference Registrar in February of each year.
To request a transcript from GBHEM at other times, please send an email message to the COS Records Office at email@example.com with the words "Transcript Request" in the subject line. Please note that transcripts are updated within six weeks after the end of the term.