Studies conducted of those who receive the credential of Certified Genealogist show that most have a variety of educational experiences prior to submitting their portfolio. BCG does not endorse any particular educational offering, but we have correlated educational options and successful applications, as shown in the table below.

Effect of Genealogical Education on Certification
Education Program
(number of applicants participating in the program)
Percent Successful Percent Unsuccessful
Local conferences only (23) 0% 100%
Webinars only (25) 0% 100%
No formal education (33) 16% 84%
Boston University Certificate (76) 62% 38%
Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (39) 66% 34%
At least one institute (155) 69% 31%
Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (86) 69% 31%
Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (101) 71% 29%
Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (82) 71% 29%
Three or more institutes (92) 72% 28%
ProGen Study Group (94) 73% 27%
GenProof Study Group (43) 74% 26%
At least one institute and extended genealogical education (107) 75% 25%
NGS Home Study Course – Now Advanced Skills in Genealogy (43) 77% 23%

The numbers are based on 143 successful applicants from December 2013 through 17 April 2024, and 185 unsuccessful applicants from February 2014 through 17 April 2024. This data reflects a total of 328 applicants.


To be included in the list of educational activities, a program must meet the following criteria:

  1. Standards: The program helps students meeting standards 89 and 90.
  2. Pass rate: The program must evidence a new-applicant portfolio pass rate greater than 60%.
  3. Sample size: There are 15 or more applicants who listed the program in their development activities.
  4. Longevity: The program has been around for at least three years.

The following are educational opportunities which some individuals have found helpful.

These are not all-inclusive and it is up to each individual to determine which educational options are appropriate and of value.

Academic Programs | Institutes | Collaborative Studies Online | Independent Study Courses | Conferences

Academic Programs

Boston University (BU)

BU’s Center for Professional Education offers a seven-week online Genealogy Essentials course and a non-credit online Certificate in Genealogical Research. The certificate course is an online 15-week program that requires significant amounts of time spent searching for multiple generations of a family through record repositories and online sources and documenting the results.



The enrollment at all institutes is limited.

Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed)

Gen-Fed has been held in July since 1950 at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, DC and is co-sponsored by BCG. Its five-day program offers in-depth study of material held by NARA in Washington, DC and College Park, Maryland.

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP)

GRIP holds multiple sessions each summer on the LaRoche College campus in suburban Pittsburgh and other locations. Courses vary annually.

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR)

IGHR, begun in 1962 at Howard College, later Samford University, is now held in Athens, Georgia, hosted by the Georgia Genealogical Society. The five-day summer program offers several courses.

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG)

SLIG holds a five-day program each January in Salt Lake City, managed by the Utah Genealogical Association, with several courses on topics that vary annually.


Other ongoing focused institutes include the Midwest African American Genealogical Institute at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN, each summer; and the British Institute of the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History in Salt Lake City, UT, each fall. Institutes focusing on other ethnic, regional, or state-level research may also offer in-depth educational opportunities.


Collaborative Studies Online

ProGen Study Groups

Since 2008, participants in this 18-month program study one or two chapters of Professional Genealogy (edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills) each month, complete a practical assignment relating to the material, and meet online in small groups to discuss the topic. They review each other’s assignments and offer constructive feedback. Like the book, the program covers both research procedures and business practices. Each group has a board-certified genealogist acting as group mentor; certificates are awarded to those who complete the requirements satisfactorily.

NGSQ Study Groups

These groups meet monthly online to discuss a preselected article from the NGS Quarterly. The study is based on William M. Litchman’s model. Each participant reads the selected article several times, noting the research techniques, evidence, documentation, and logic used in solving the genealogy problem (

Gen Proof Study Groups

Gen Proof Study Group participants study the chapters in Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones. Participants read each chapter, complete the exercises in the book, and meet online to discuss the concepts. Volunteer mentors host the group discussions and answer questions.


Independent-Study Courses

National Genealogical Society (NGS) Educational Courses

NGS offers several self-paced home-study options on various topics: Foundations in Family History, Advanced Skills in Genealogy, and the Continuing Genealogical Studies series.


Regional, National, and International Conferences

Conferences are comparatively brief and cover a wider range of topics in less depth than other educational opportunities. Major genealogical conferences include but are not limited to the following.

Association of Professional Genealogists (APG)

APG holds an annual Professional Management Conference focusing on the practical facets of professional genealogical endeavors.

International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS)

IAJGS holds an annual five-day conference rotating between the United States and an international location, with multiple tracks of widely varied instruction.

National Genealogical Society (NGS)

NGS holds an annual conference in late spring at a different site each year, offering about 150–200 hours of widely varied instruction. BCG cosponsors a skillbuilding track of lectures during NGS with presentations about genealogical standards, specific types of work products, research planning, citations, evidence evaluation, and the Genealogical Proof Standard, as well as a two-hour certification seminar.

The BCG Education Fund, an independent trust founded to promote BCG’s educational aims, sponsors “Putting Skills to Work,” a pair of half-day workshops focusing on development of genealogical skills, held the day before the NGS conference starts.


FamilySearch holds RootsTech annually in Salt Lake City in the late winter. It is a family history and technology conference and trade show offering something for participants at all skill and age levels, including 200 breakout sessions and an “innovators summit.”

Regional Conferences Include

Many regional and local conferences offer similar educational opportunities. Among the more well-known regional conferences are:

New England Regional Genealogical Consortium (NERGC)—Held every other year in the odd-numbered years in New England.

Ohio Genealogical Society—Held annually in Ohio.

The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree—Held annually in southern California.