What Genealogy Degrees Are Available?

Genealogists are very skilled when it comes to research methodology, and genealogy is something that expands across a number of job types. From librarians to tour guides, historians to private investigators, there's a lot to offer to those interested in pursuing a genealogy degree.

Becoming a genealogist is something that may lead you through a unique path as you find the right courses and educational opportunities required to qualify for the role you're after.

This guide will hopefully give you all the information you need when it comes to knowing what skills and experience are required for roles in genealogy and what educational institutes are out there. By the end of this article, you'll have a better idea of the type of career you'd like to pursue within genealogy.

What Are Genealogical Studies?

Genealogical studies or genealogical research is tracing an individual's lineage through the use of historical records, both official and unofficial in nature. This encompasses a variety of roles, and the skills in research you would acquire as a genealogist will put you in good stead for many roles that require this type of research or expertise.

Genealogy studies are always going to be needed, whether it's helping track the DNA of an unidentified person within a crime scene or to help others track their family lineage to fill in the gaps in their family history.

Becoming A Genealogist - Education & Certification Requirements

To become a genealogist, there are certain education and certification requirements needed to put you in the best opportunity to secure a job. Not only that but certain genealogical skills and business skills are also required.

It's important to note that you don't need a formal degree to become a genealogist, but a bachelor's degree or postgraduate certificate is definitely going to help those professionals to get a job somewhere in the genealogy industry. With the average salary of a genealogist being $73,154, it's a viable career path that pays well.

Various schools and online programs are also available for users worldwide to learn in the real world or remotely. From Boston University to the National Genealogical Society, we'll cover all of the best schools and educational resources you'll need in the next section.

Genealogy skills required

When considering a career in genealogy, it's worthwhile knowing what core skills are required within this field of study. Evaluating your own skills and traits will help you clarify whether or not a career in genealogy is right for you.

  • Good genealogy skills that cover the basics. For example, knowing how to trace records back and identifying information required.
  • Knowledge of local resources in your area and beyond, depending on the desired career path.
  • Ability to access records both online and offline.
  • Prior experience working in libraries or with archives.
  • Specialist knowledge within genealogical research, court records, military records, etc.
  • A member of a genealogical society and any networking/events or meetings you regularly attend.

What you also do in your spare time in relation to genealogy is important, whether that's taking free online courses, reading genealogy-related publications, or attending national conferences.

Business skills required

Aside from the genealogy-related skills, there are a number of business skills that are desired. Here are some of those business skills that can come in handy when it comes to this career.

  • Organized and meticulous when it comes to detail.
  • Scheduling workloads efficiently to meet deadlines.
  • A talent at keeping records up to date and maintained.
  • Natural ability to network with a variety of personalities.
  • Ability to manage expectations, even if unrealistic.
  • Setting budgets and costs for your services when consulting.
  • Writing skills are desirable for certain roles.

As a professional genealogist, you'll need many of these skills and more, depending on what type of role you choose to pursue.

Four Popular Schools For Professional Genealogist Degrees

There are various genealogy courses available to choose from for those exploring genealogy. The type of school or education resource you have on your resume might also influence the success of your career prospects, so it's good to do your research just like the family history research you'll come to specialize in!

We've put together four of the most popular schools for professional genealogist degrees that provide insightful genealogy courses rated highly by the genealogical community.

Boston University

Boston University is considered one of the best when it comes to achieving the education and skills needed to become a professional genealogist. They offer a detailed genealogy course that helps any amateur genealogist elevate their research skills and expand them.

You'll gain certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists® through this program, and it can help you further your general knowledge of genealogy. It's one that's adaptable for anyone entering a career in genealogy, whether they have knowledge of it or not.

Some of the knowledge and skills you'll learn throughout this course include:

  • Honing your craft as a researcher for both personal and professional benefits.
  • Collaborating with fellow students and gaining expertise from professional genealogists.
  • Learn how to find relevant information online.

The course will take up to 20-30 hours a week of your time, making it a relatively full-time course to undertake. As a 15-week course that includes four modules, the Genealogy Studies Program at Boston University is well recommended.

Brigham Young University

For Brigham Young University, their degree for genealogy mixes a liberal arts degree in history and a technical degree in genealogy. As a result, this major has been designed to give you a hybrid qualification that makes you both a historian and a genealogist.

Within a career industry that will likely be competitive, having this combined skillset and knowledge will make you a top choice for many employers.

The minor available at BYU focuses on technical genealogical training that can aid your major. The beauty of this course is that you can craft it in a way that best benefits your intended career path.

Some of the courses you can expect to cover throughout your major and minor are:

  • Digital History
  • Historical Narrative: A Writing Workshop
  • Genetic Genealogy
  • Introduction to Family History Doctrine and Practice
  • The Family and the Law in American History
  • Colonial North American Family History Research and Methodology

A bachelor's degree is typically done over three to four years, depending on the degree and school you attend. It's worth researching the university you'd like to go to so that you know exactly how long the course will ask of you.

Salt Lake City Community College

Salt Lake City Community College, or the SLCC, as it's known for short, offers a not-for-credit, fully online Genealogy Certificate program. Introducing you to the world of genealogy in the digital era, you'll learn plenty with their Genealogy Research and Writing program.

Providing expertise from some of the best instructors recognized by the Utah genealogical association, you'll understand computer systems, research, and how to analyze data and evidence you gather. There are a variety of courses within this program that will lead you to a more detailed knowledge of genealogy.

There are also additional courses that are offered in order to prepare the student for certification. These eight-week courses are ideal for those who are limited on their time and availability. Here are just a few examples of their courses offered:

  • Tracing Immigrant Origins
  • Genealogy and Family History Writing
  • Writing Life Stories
  • Introduction to High-Tech Genealogy
  • International Research I

Students who follow the course will receive a Certificate in Genealogy Research and Writing, which can put individuals in a great opportunity to become professional genealogists.

International Institute of Genealogical Studies

The international Institute for Genealogical Studies was formerly known as National Institute for Genealogical Studies and was affiliated with the University of Toronto. It is now, however, its own separate online seat of education which as the name suggests has become international in its reach.

Offering genealogical education packages not just for Canada and the U.S. but also Australia, Eastern Europe, Germany, Ireland and Italy to name but a few. They have created tailored course packages specifically for certain countries which will help students around the world develop their skills on a local level.

Packages are often made up of multiple modules, some compulsory, for achieving the offered certificate others that may not be. They offer a full course price with each package although you can choose to take modules piece meal as well.

They are a registered trade school who often have students from the programs of other schools attend their courses in order to complete their education on their way to professional certification.

Other Online Resources For Family History Research

There are a number of other online resources to explore when it comes to family history research. Here are a couple worth looking at.

The National Genealogical Society

The National Genealogical Society is a membership organization although it doesn't offer you a degree in genealogy, it can certainly offer plenty of professional courses to use in real-world scenarios.

Referred to as the NGS, the organization helps individuals learn about their family history and the skills needed to expand this research beyond just their own lineage. The research opportunities that come with this company will help many individuals in their path to become a certified genealogist.

The NGS is unique in its ability to help individuals who study their courses to use the skills they've acquired to implement them in the real world. Genealogy, after all, wasn't always available online and required a lot of in-person research.

There are plenty of courses to choose from with the NGS, including:

  • Introducing: Foundations in Family History
  • Continuing Genealogical Studies (CGS)
  • Family History Skills: Start Your Course

For the small cost of an annual membership, it's a worthwhile investment when it comes to the resources that it can provide to you or your society.


Udemy is one that offers a wealth of online courses both in genealogy and across a wide range of industries. They're considered to be an online university, so they are certainly useful for achieving qualifications that could land you the job you're after.

There are eighteen different results for genealogists budding and professionals to take advantage of. With a variety of classes to choose from, here are some worth looking at:

  • Introduction to Family History Research
  • UK Genealogy: Researching Wills and Probate
  • Genealogy Photo Editing, Care and Repair
  • Free Introductory Course to Genealogy
  • Genealogy: Learn to Climb the Branches of Your Family Tree
  • The Complete Guide to Immigration Genealogy

Not everyone has the funds available to pay for a professional degree, and so it's often a route that professional genealogists take when starting out their career path. The courses are affordable and accessible to anyone who might have to work alongside taking the courses themselves.

With the courses, you only have to make one purchase, and then you have that course for life. You can use it over and over again in order to make the most of your investments. It also then becomes a helpful knowledge base for when you need to lean back on it for research purposes.

Every course also has a thirty-day money-back guarantee, which is important when investing in your career. After all, you want to have spent your money in the best manner to get all the knowledge needed to pursue your career in genealogy.

Careers Opportunities With A Genealogy Degree

There are a variety of careers that you can pursue as an accredited genealogist. When you study genealogy, you'll be able to navigate your way down a certain skillset and knowledge in order to get the career you want. Here are a few examples of careers available:

  • Private Investigators
  • Librarians
  • Historical Preservation
  • Forensic Genealogist
  • Heir Searcher

Final Thoughts

A career in genealogy is a unique and interesting opportunity that can open doors to job roles that you may not have thought were possible. You may want to use your experience and knowledge in genealogy to dip your toes into multiple career paths, or you may wish to stick to one particular specialism.

Whatever you do, it's important to do your research and invest in your career through courses and relevant degrees.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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