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 ?

In Continuing Genealogical Studies: Genetic Genealogy, the Basics, you are introduced to genetic genealogy. You receive an introduction to the DNA molecule, chromosomes, DNA Markers, and the Mitochondrial DNA molecule. It has six modules, each providing instruction, examples, self-correcting quizzes, a glossary, and a bibliography for future reference.

It consists of six modules:

  • 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

Upon completion a student can:

  • 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 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.

To learn more about Continuing Genealogical Studies: Genetic Genealogy, the Basics see the course syllabus.


Since Continuing Genealogical Studies: are cloud based courses, you need either a computer or tablet with an Internet connection to access the lessons, examples, exercises, and quizzes. No software or material is loaded onto your computer or tablet.

To optimize your online learning experience, the Canvas system uses the current version of a number of different browsers. To check for your browser compatibility, please see for further information and details.

All students work independently.


Continuing Genealogical Studies


Non members

Genetic Genealogy, the Basics



How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Course?

Unlike continuing education courses, the Continuing Genealogical Studies: Genetic Genealogy, the Basics series courses have no set time or date for attendance. These courses are geared toward individuals who have a variety of schedules. Upon registration, you have access to the course 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.

Certificate of Completion

Continuing Genealogical Studies series are independent learning courses and not eligible for a certificate of completion.

Please note: The National Genealogical Society is not a licensing body, so no certification or accreditation is implied. For more information about certification or accreditation, please see Becoming a Professional Genealogist.

When Can I Start the Course?

Please allow three business days to receive an e-mail from NGS confirming registration and providing log in instructions. It is followed by a second e-mail from the NGS Education Department <> linking you to the registration page.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

All purchases of courses are final. No refunds or credits are available.


Before you register for the course, please read the Continuing Genealogical Studies: FAQs. If you have further questions, please contact the NGS Course Administrator at


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Online Courses:

Online Courses are reinventing and reinvigorating learning by taking better advantage of updated genealogical information, new resources, or better methods. Rather than traveling through inclement weather or across long distances, you can take advantage of your schedule, by just going to your computer and enrolling in an online course. NGS online store.