National Genealogical Society

Educational Courses

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why should I choose this course?

The NGS American Genealogy: Home Study Course teaches creativity, innovation, communication, critical thinking, and problem solving techniques. This course is more comprehensive, systematic, and hands-on than can be found elsewhere. 

Can I enroll in the course regardless of my previous education level?

The course is open to everyone. People come to this course with their own personal knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes gained through daily experiences and in other courses or readings. Some find the course easier if they have a college background. Good writing skills are an added plus for this course. 

I have researched my ancestors for several years. What would I gain from taking this course?

This course is designed for genealogists who want to broaden their knowledge about finding and using different records, sourcing their material, research strategies, and evidence analysis. 

What does this course cover?

Each lesson focuses on a certain genealogical topics and progresses from basic information to more complex genealogical material. As you learn various principles, they are applied, reused, and reinforced in that and subsequent lessons.

Each lesson contains examples, self-correcting questions, glossaries, and references. After reading and applying the material, complete and submit the assignments. The course syllabus is available online.

Can I see an example of a course lesson?

NGS does not have this option available. But a free online course, Family History Skills, is available in our members-only section.

Do I need anything further?

Genealogists use the Chicago Manual of Style1  to resolve style, formatting, and punctuation questions. NGS strongly suggests using either Evidence Explained2  or for Evidence!3  genealogical citations as well as referring to the NGS Quarterly and the NGS Magazine.

How long will it take to complete the course?

The NGS American Genealogy: Home Study Course is currently on three CDs. Each CD contains between four to six lessons. The time limit is one year for each CD purchased. If you are unable to complete the course during that time, you may request an extension of your enrollment. Please contact the NGS Course Administrator at for further information. However, additional fees and time limits apply.

I have physical disabilities that make it difficult or impossible to work outside my home. Can I still take the course?

Although more sources are appearing on the Internet, this course does require the use of resources in local repositories like libraries, courthouses, churches, archives, and cemeteries.

Can I enroll in the course if I live outside the United States?

This course is designed around United States records. Sometimes, people outside the United States find it challenging to obtain the necessary records to complete assignments. Additional costs may apply for residents outside the continental United States. 

If I am unable to complete the course, can I receive a tuition refund?

Although NGS wants you to have a positive learning experience, all purchases of the NGS American Genealogy: Home Study Course are non-refundable after thirty days.

What happens if I misplace the CDs? Are replacement sets available?

Replacement sets are available for a small fee. Contact the NGS Course Administrator at for more information.

Will I receive a certificate of completion once I have successfully completed the course?

Upon satisfactory progress and completion of all coursework for the sixteen lessons, a certificate of completion is awarded.

After taking this course, is the certificate enough for the Board for Certification of Genealogists® or International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists?

The National Genealogical Society is not a licensing body, so no formal genealogical credential or accreditation is implied. Please refer to the websites of The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) or International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) for their policies or standards for certification or accreditation.


Contact the NGS Course Administrator at

[1]. University of Chicago Press, The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers, 16th edition (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2010).
[2]. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012).
[3]. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997).

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