My review of the B.U. Certificate in Genealogical Education course

This past fall I took the Boston University Certificate Program in Genealogical Research.  This is a 15-week online course (for continuing ed credits only — NOT undergrad academic credit) taught by experts and professionals in the field of genealogy. 

The program was updated and modified with my class (Fall 2018).  It now has 4 modules:  (1) Genealogical Methods (5 weeks); — taught by Allison Ryall
(2) Evidence Evaluation & Documentation (4 weeks); — taught by Julie Michutka
(3) Forensic Genealogy (4 weeks);  — taught by Melinde Lutz Bryne, CG, FASG
(4) Genealogy as a Profession (2 weeks). — taught by Angela Packer McGhie, CG

Assignments were due each week, and were graded.   In addition, you are expected to log on regularly, and to participate regularly in discussions that are part of each module.  You need a grade of C or better in each module, and a B- overall to attain your certificate.  (Note: this is just a certificate.  It does NOT mean you are a Certified Genealogist through the Board for Certification of Genealogists.)

Getting on to what I thought of the course, I loved it!  It was well worth the cost (close to $2,700 — but I got 10% off, as I am a member of National Genealogical Society).  I did NOT take the 7-week Essentials course suggested by BU in advance of this course, deciding instead to just take the plunge.  I definitely needed a minimum of 20 hours per week to get through this course — but some weeks were more intense (citations!) and other weeks were “easier” (for me, that was the first module).

While I can’t make specific remarks as to the course content, my suggestion is that you are best off in the first module if you are familiar with a wide variety of records and have a high-level understanding of how DNA matches play into genealogical research.with DNA.    The module on evidence and citations has a new textbook — Thomas Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Documentation.  You are taught the art of citing your sources by understanding the source itself and the information within it — so you won’t have to just refer to templates.

The Forensic Genealogy module includes a focus on Ethics, since ethics play a significant role in dealing with living people, as far as DNA research and (financial) inheritances are concerned.  Finally, the module of Professional Genealogy covers the basics of what it takes to be a professional genealogist, using the brand-new Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards (published in 2018).

I found all the instructors (and their assistants) to be extremely responsive to my fellow students and myself.  I also thought the interaction between the students via discussion forums to be extremely helpful, learning as much from my classmates as from the coursework itself.  (The interaction between classmates is limited to the group you’re in, however; there were enough enrolled students for Fall 2018 that the students were divided into 2 sections, and further divided into 5 subsections of roughly 25 students each.)

All in all, if you want to ramp up your genealogical research skills very fast, this is a great course in which to do it.  Be prepared for a “grind” — you’ll likely need those 20+ hours a week to work on the readings and assignments.  There were about 4 or 5 in my own subsection of roughly 25 students that apparently dropped out before the end of the first module.  Afterwards, if you earn your certificate, you can choose to join the alumni mailing group (which includes alumni from all the past classes, back to 2009); a Facebook group exists as well.

 

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