College Degrees in Genealogy & Family History


Most genealogists learn their trade through self-study and the accumulated experience of researching families’ histories. The growing popularity of genealogy to the general public, however, has fostered a number of college-based programs that offer four-year bachelor’s degrees, two-year associate's degrees and certificates that document sufficient levels of proficiency to set up genealogy businesses.

The Genealogy Profession

  • Although a formal course of study is not required to enter the genealogy profession, some practitioners have backgrounds in history or in some other research-related discipline. The primary requirements for genealogists are their abilities to patiently research a great variety of historical documents and to organize the data into coherent family time lines.

    Information may not always be readily forthcoming, so genealogists use their creativity to search cemeteries, church records, prison logs and many other far-flung databases. They trace family histories for their clients and may write books and articles on the subject. Many teach classes to other interested individuals and help each other by entering family data that they have found into modern databases for future references.

Four-year Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Heritage Genealogy College offers on-site as well as online classes for its bachelor’s degree in genealogy. Its program is considered by many to be the most genealogy-intense course of study that is currently available with additional course work to help set up a professional genealogy business.

    Brigham Young University offers a major and a minor course of studies in family history through its history department. The program requires that a majority of the classes be attended on campus and that a prescribed number of history-related courses also be successfully completed to satisfy the bachelor’s degree requirements.

Two-year Associate’s Degrees

  • Akamai University offers a two-year associate’s degree in genealogy. The degree is earned through distance learning that requires students to complete 60 hours of course work from their homes. Active genealogists who wish to have college degree credentials find this course particularly attractive because of its time flexibility.

Certificates in Genealogy

  • Brigham Young University offers a certificate program in family history as an independent studies project. The program will not produce a degree, but each one of the successfully completed subjects will earn college credits that can later be applied toward a degree with departmental approval.

    The Professional and Continuing Education department of the University of Washington offers an evening certificate program in genealogy that is approved by its Graduate School of Library and Information Science and its Department of History. Successful completion of the nine-month course earns the certificate along with nine Continuing Education Units.

    The National Institute for Genealogical Studies, in cooperation with the University of Toronto’s Continuing Education Department, offers a series of courses over the Internet that lead to a certificate in Genealogical Studies. The program must be completed in three years.

Continuing Education

  • The National Genealogical Society offers two different genealogy courses that are approved by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council.

    The International Internet Genealogical Society University offers seven courses from beginning to advanced levels. Both organizations can be springboards to additional studies and college degrees at one of the recognized universities that offer genealogy degrees.

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