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10 Educational Opportunities for Genealogists

Genealogy Degrees, Certificate Programs & Professional Development Options

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Whether you're just beginning to explore your own family tree, or are a professional genealogist looking for continuing education, a multitude of educational opportunities exist for students in the field of genealogy. Some options offer a broad education, while others invite you to focus on research in a specific geographical area or research methodology. Hundreds of education options for genealogists exist, but to get you started here are some of the most popular options, including a selection of genealogy conferences, institutes, workshops, home study courses and online degree and certificate programs.

Be aware - some of these courses fill up well in advance of their final registration date!

1. Boston University's Certificate in Genealogical Research

The Center for Professional Education at Boston University offers both classroom-based and online multi-week Genealogical Research Certificate Programs. No prior genealogical experience is required, but the program is geared for serious genealogical students, professional researchers, librarians, archival managers and teachers. The BU certificate program emphasizes genealogical theory and analytical reasoning. There is also a more intensive summer-only program for students with prior genealogical experience. Members of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, National Genealogical Society and/or Association of Professional Genealogists receive a 10% discount on tuition.

2. Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR)

This week-long program held each June at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, is very popular with both intermediate and expert genealogists, with many courses filling up within hours of registration opening each year. Topics vary annually, but generally include popular courses in Intermediate Genealogy, Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis, Techniques and Technology, and Writing and Publishing for Genealogists, plus annually rotating topics such as Research in the South, German Genealogy, Researching African-American Ancestors, Land Records, Virginia research and UK research. IGHR featuresa faculty of outstanding, nationally known genealogy educators and is cosponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

3. National Institute for Genealogical Studies

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in affiliation with the Continuing Education, University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto provides web-based courses for both family historians and professional genealogists. In this program you can select your educational options based on what your time, interests and income will allow - from a single course, to a 14-course Certificate in Genealogical Studies (General Methodology) or a 40-course Certificate in Genealogical Studies in (Country Specific). Classes are self-paced to a point, but each starts and ends on a specific date and includes written assignments as well as a final online multiple choice exam.

4. NGS American Genealogy Home Study Course

If everyday commitments or the cost of attending a genealogy institute or conference are prohibiting your dreams of a quality genealogy education, the renowned NGS Home Study Course on CD is an excellent option for beginner and intermediate genealogists. There are graded and non-graded options available, and NGS members receive a discount. A certificate is awarded to each person who successfully completes the graded version of the NGS Home Study Course.

5. National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR)

Founded in 1950, this popular genealogy institute offers on-site examination and evaluation of U.S. federal records at the National Archives for one week each July. This institute is geared toward experienced researchers who are proficient in the basics of genealogy research and ready to progress beyond the census and military records held by the National Archives. Application brochures are generally mailed out in early February for those who have put their name on the mailing list and the class fills very quickly.

6. Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG)

For one week each January, Salt Lake City is teeming with genealogists from all over the world attending the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Society. Courses are available on a variety of topics from American Land and Court Records to Central and Eastern European Research to Advanced Problem Solving. Two other popular course options include one geared toward helping genealogists prepare for accreditation and/or certification through the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) or the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), and another focused on individual problem solving in small groups with personal input from research consultants.

7. The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (IHGS)

The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury, England is an independent educational charitable trust, established to provide full academic facilities for training and research in the study of the history and structure of the family. Courses include single day schools on a variety of topics, residential weekends and week-long courses, evening courses and our very popular correspondence course.

8. Family Tree University

If you're looking to advance your knowledge in a particular genealogical research skill or geographical area, then the online and independent study courses offered by Family Tree University, an online education program from the publishers of Family Tree Magazine, might be what you are looking for. Choices include online four-week, instructor guided classes; self-paced independent study courses, and educational webinars. Pricing range from around $40 for Webinars to $99 for classes.

9. BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy

The genealogy programs at BYU are on-site in Utah, with the exception of a handful of free, online, independent study courses, but the well-known program offers a BA in Family History (Genealogy) as well as a minor or a certificate in Family History.

10. Take on a Genealogy Conference

There are numerous genealogical conferences and workshops hosted at various sites around the world each year, so instead of highlighting just one here, I'll just suggest that you consider a genealogy conference as a great learning and networking experience. Some of the biggest genealogical conferences include the NGS Family History Conference, the FGS Annual Conference, the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE conference in London, the California Genealogy Jamboree, the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference, the Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry and the list goes on and on... Another fun option is to take one of several Genealogy Cruises, which combine genealogical lectures and classes with a fun vacation cruise.

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