Programs in Genealogical Research

Certificate Program

Get the Skills, Tools, and Methodology to Make the Most of Facts and Doubt

The Boston University Certificate Program in Genealogical Research is a 15-week online, non-credit program taught by exceptional Boston University faculty, world-renowned for their expertise and contributions to the field. The team includes Certified Genealogists and members of the American Society of Genealogists. Each faculty member teaches a different topic, exposing students to the entire team. The rigorous online program affords students the opportunity to:

  • Hone genealogical skills for personal or professional development
  • Earn a well-regarded credential
  • Work with primary source material to reach to sound genealogical conclusions
  • Gain skills to find and evaluate information found online

Who Should Enroll?

This program is ideal for students with a background in librarianship, archival management, teaching, historical research, law, medicine, biology, and other related fields. It is also a good choice for:

Course Structure

The program includes the following five modules:

  • Foundations of Genealogical Research
  • Problem-Solving Techniques and Technology
  • Evidence Evaluation and Documentation
  • Forensic Genealogical Research
  • Professional Genealogy

Foundations of Genealogical Research

This first module is an overview of general genealogical principles, goals, ethics, and end products. It covers the research principles needed for successful results. It focuses on three primary skill-building areas (problem-solving, research design, and report writing). The module introduces and establishes the “Genealogical Proof Standard®” as the basic framework for all research assignments to be covered in this program.

Problem Solving Techniques and Technology

This module utilizes multiple examples to impart the skills necessary to design and follow the most direct path to a supportable conclusion. The use of technological tools, particularly the internet, is placed in perspective and thoroughly explored. Students create and execute a research plan, with particular attention to organizing, documenting, verifying, and presenting the findings in a report for a client.

Evidence Evaluation and Documentation

This module presents the key elements necessary for determining the credibility and authenticity of evidence. It will prepare the student to recognize unreliable evidence and its origin. Once the evidence is evaluated, students learn complete citation formats and construction principles.

Forensic Genealogical Research

This module provides practical examples, famous cases, and in-class problem solving that will define the parameters of ethical forensic work. Generally the most lucrative of the genealogical specialties, forensic research is done for the legal community, often at the direction of an attorney. Tracing heirs for probate, identifying people in old photographs, and other problem-solving exercises will provide practice and define the parameters of ethical forensic work. Techniques for opening cases, uncovering assets, collaborating with attorneys, and interviewing informants will also be presented.

The Professional Genealogist

After learning the skills and competencies necessary to perform genealogical research according to set standards, this module explores business opportunities, specialties, and trends for genealogists. It covers ethics, client relations, contracts, additional educational venues, BCG certification requirements, and many other resources that will launch you into an exciting and fascinating profession.

Required Course Materials

The textbooks required for this course can be found on the Course Materials page.


To learn more, contact an Enrollment Advisor at 617-502-8822 or complete the form below.

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