Although the traditional route of attending Seminary after completing an undergraduate degree remains the norm, the Course of Study (COS) is an alternate educational track. Its curriculum is prescribed by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and is taught through regional schools (one of which is collaboration between Methodist Theological School in Ohio and United Theological Seminary). It includes a 5-year Course of Study, an Advanced Course of Study and Correspondence Studies. Licensed Local Pastors further their pastoral education in the 5-year school. Graduates are eligible to become Associate [clergy] Members of the annual conference.
Some extend their education beyond the 5-year COS with the Advance Course of Study making them eligible to interview for ordination. There are specific guidelines for this track found in the 2016 Book of Discipline.