Genealogy Studies Program

Principles Course

BU is at the forefront of innovation, offering the most up-to-date and cutting-edge curriculum for students. If you are newer to the field of genealogy, the Genealogical Principles course will help you…

Enhance Your Research Skills and Build a Solid Foundation!

The seven-week Boston University Genealogical Principles Course includes detailed instruction and hands-on practice to:

  • Improve genealogical research skills
  • Gain a solid understanding of genealogical concepts and terms
  • Master the Genealogical Proof Standard
  • Locate and search public records to resolve identity problems
  • Understand the basics of DNA and ethnicity

Who Should Enroll?

  • Serious students who are new to the field of genealogy
  • Hobbyists and enthusiasts who would like more formal training
  • Those whose research has been primarily on genealogy websites such as
  • Researchers who haven’t worked on-site at repositories, archives, courthouses, etc. or whose on-site experiences have been limited to requesting a record (by filling out a form, for example)
  • Subscribers and frequent visitors to sites like FindMyPast, FamilySearch,, GenealogyBank, genealogical society membership databases, etc.
  • Students who would eventually like to take Boston University’s Genealogy Practicum Course or Certificate in Genealogical Research Course


Recommended Time Commitment: 10-16 hours/week*

*This time commitment is based on individual knowledge and experience in the field.

The curriculum includes graded work throughout seven weeks.

Week One

Define genealogy and study elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to determine how your identity is defined with information, sources, and evidence.

Week Two

What data from popular websites should you trust? Recognize and analyze conflicting information.

Week Three

Work with a published document and test it – does it meet the GPS? Correlate information to resolve identity problems.

Week Four

What elements make up a good proof argument?  Examine a well-cited article that meets all standards.

Week Five

What can you learn from free and pay websites? Discuss an identity problem and its solution with records created by newly freed people after the Civil War.

Week Six

Develop timelines, design a research plan, and evaluate a written report to see if it meets standards.

Week Seven

Introduction to DNA and ethnicity. Compare the major genetic genealogy testing companies to choose the one with results that correspond to your research.

Required Course Materials

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

Enroll Now

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

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