From 1994 to 2003, Copeland was associate professor of systematic theology at Marquette University; from 1989 to 1994, she taught at Yale University Divinity School. From 1994 through 2005, she taught systematic theology regularly in the degree program at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies, Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans.
Her research interests converge around issues of theological and philosophical anthropology and political theology, as well as African and African–derived religious and cultural experience and African-American intellectual history.
Copeland is a former Convenor of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS) and a former president (2003-2004) of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA). She is an honorary member of Alpha Sigma Nu and the recipient of Barry University’s Yves Congar Award for Excellence in Theology (2000) as well as honorary degrees form Catholic Theological Union (2009), Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley (2007), Holy Names College (2002), and Emmanuel College (1989). In 2009, she received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Black Religious Scholars Group.