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 four modules:

  • Genealogical Methods
  • Evidence, Evaluation, and Documentation
  • Forensic Genealogy
  • Genealogy as a Profession

Module 1, “Genealogical Methods”

This module emphasizes techniques and methods necessary to identify, understand, analyze, and solve complex genealogical problems. Students learn logic and critical thinking skills and apply these newly developed skills to a variety of real world case studies. Emphasis is placed on the research cycle process, discovering identity and kinship through affiliations, and the use of genealogical theory and problem solving strategies. Technological tools, particularly the internet, are placed in perspective and thoroughly explored. Students explore how Y-chromosome DNA and mitochondrial DNA are used to trace ancestry and family lineage.

 

Module 2, “Evidence, Evaluation, and Documentation”

This module addresses key elements in determining the credibility and authenticity of evidence. Students learn about sources, information, and evidence, and how classifying these leads to identification of the best-quality data. On this foundation, students are introduced to proper citation formats and construction principles to accurately identify sources and describe their quality. Examining how genealogists articulate research questions, students see how to build proof arguments to resolve conflicting information, and assemble evidence to support a conclusion. This prepares students to express their own research in a written narrative format.

 

Module 3, “Forensic Genealogy”

This module provides practical examples, intriguing cases, and in-class problem solving that define the parameters of ethical forensic work. Generally the most lucrative of the genealogical specialties, forensic research is done for legal purposes, often at the direction of an attorney, law enforcement, the medical community, or the Department of Defense. Exercises in tracing heirs for probate, identifying people in old photographs, finding birth parents or lost children through autosomal DNA, or naming the unknown dead will expand students’ genealogical toolkits.

 

Module 4, “Genealogy as a Profession”

This module highlights the opportunities for turning a genealogy passion into a profession and emphasizes the qualities, experience, and skills expected of a professional. Students explore business considerations through discussions on genealogy specialties, client relations, business plans, and marketing. Written assignments provide students hands-on experience researching in repositories, creating research plans, conducting research, and writing formal research reports. These skills are valuable to genealogists looking to take clients, and those seeking to produce quality work for their own families.

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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