National Genealogical Society

Educational Courses

Continuing Genealogical Studies: Genetic Genealogy, the Basics

Thomas H. Shawer, md, is a physician, a nationally recognized lecturer, past chair­man of the NGS Genetic Genealogy Commit­tee, and the author of the NGS book, Unlocking Your Genetic History.

What Will I Learn

Continuing Genealogical Studies: Genetic Genealogy, the Basics provides an introduction to genetic genealogy. It has six modules, each providing instruction, examples, self-correcting quizzes, a glossary, and a bibliography for future reference. The modules cover:

  • Module 1.  The DNA Molecule
  • Module 2.  Chromosomes
  • Module 3.  DNA Markers
  • Module 4.  A Y-Chromosome Surname Project
  • Module 5.  The Mitochondrial DNA Molecule
  • Module 6.  Inheritance of mtDNA

By taking this course, you will:

  • understand the structure of the DNA molecule, how it is organized, how it replicates, and how it functions;
  • learn about human chromosomes and how the Y chromosome is inherited;
  • recognize and become familiar with the two types of DNA markers used in genetic genealogy;
  • become familiar with the concepts of haplotypes and haplogroups;
  • examine a Y surname project and evaluate the test results of the participants; and
  • understand the structure of the mitochondrial DNA molecule, how it is inherited, and how it can be used in genealogy.

See the course syllabus to learn more about Continuing Genealogical Studies: Genetic Genealogy, the Basics.


Continuing Genealogical Studies series courses are cloud based. To access course material, you need either a computer or tablet with an Internet connection. Please refer to the FAQs for specific computer and software needs.

No software or material is downloaded onto your computer or tablet, but you do need an updated browser. To check for your particular browser compatibility, please see browsers supported by Canvas for further details.

Term of Course

NGS gives participants access to Continuing Genealogical Studies: Genetic Genealogy, the Basics for six months from the date of registration. For those who need extra time, a one-time extension of three months is granted by contacting the NGS Course Administrator at prior to the course expiration date.


The tuition is $45.00 for members and $70.00 for nonmembers. Join today to receive the member price. Register online at the NGS Store now.

When Can I Start the Course?

Please allow three business days to receive an e-mail from NGS confirming registration.

You will then receive an e-mail from Canvas by Instructure providing you with login instructions, good for the duration of the course.

Want Something More?

Besides the Continuing Genealogical Studies series, NGS offers genealogists a multimodule course known as the American Genealogical Studies series. NGS also offers PDF courses on Special Topics. These include:


Before you register for the course, please read these Frequently Asked Questions

If you have further questions, please contact the NGS Course Administrator at

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Home Study Course on CD

NGS offers American Genealogy: Home Study Course, a sixteen-lesson course on three CDs, for the more experienced genealogist who wants an in-depth independent study course. Learn more.