Advanced Skills in Genealogy

Advanced Skills in Genealogy: A Certificate Course

Course Description

Advanced Skills in Genealogy consists of nineteen comprehensive modules that cover all major record and repository types, evidence analysis, methodology, DNA, and writing. The course work is designed to be progressive, with each module building on previous ones to optimally develop skills.

Prerequisites: The NGS Foundations in Family History course or equivalent education or experience
Format: Online, cloud based
Pricing: Students may register for one part at a time or register for the full course with a $100 discount.
Part I (Modules 1–10) Members $575 Non-Members $675
Part II (Modules 11–19) Members $575 Non-Members $675
Full Course Members $1050 Non-Members $1250
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Course Structure

Advanced Skills in Genealogy takes students on a deep dive into sixteen significant types of genealogical records with detailed descriptions, document examples, and links to digitized record collections. A variety of methodologies and strategies are demonstrated through case studies and hands-on exercises. Analysis and correlation of information between records is emphasized, with the goal of putting the pieces together to build a proof summary.

The course consists of nineteen modules in two parts:

Part I

  • Research Planning and Organization
  • Finding and Using Genealogical Resources
  • Archive and Library Resources
  • Interpreting and Evaluating Evidence
  • Advanced Census Research
  • Government Vital Records
  • City Directories, Newspapers, and Maps
  • Cemetery and Burial Records
  • Utilizing Religious Records
  • Probate and Other Court Records

Part II

  • Colonial, State, and Federal Land Records
  • Local Land and Tax Records
  • Migration Studies and Resources
  • Immigration Records
  • Naturalization and Citizenship Records
  • Military and Veterans Records – Parts I and II
  • Using DNA Evidence
  • Genealogical Writing

In addition to the content of major genealogical record groups, this course teaches research methodologies such as interpreting records, analyzing information, correlating evidence, building a case, writing source citations, crafting a proof summary, and writing a biographical sketch of an ancestor.

Teaching Elements in Each Module

  • Lesson materials
  • Case studies, examples of records, and glossaries
  • Hands-on activities, exercises, and assignments
  • Reading and reference lists
  • Scholarly articles from the NGS Quarterly
  • Instructive articles from NGS Magazine
  • Video presentations from national conferences

Grading and mentor feedback is provided for ten assignments. Four of the assignments in the course require students to do on-site research.  After completing the course and passing all graded assignments, students will receive a certificate of completion in Advanced Skills in Genealogy.

The NGS Advanced Skills in Genealogy course allows you to choose when and where to study. It also gives you the opportunity to customize your learning by selecting projects and repositories for the assignments that further your own research goals.

This online course, built in the cloud using the Canvas learning management system, is self-paced and has no set time or date for attendance, to accommodate individuals who have varied schedules for work, volunteer pursuits, or family obligations. Students prioritize their own time management and learning styles. Access to this course is digital only and does not include printed copies.


Since the modules in the Advanced Skills in Genealogy course are cloud-based, you can take the course anywhere, at any time. You simply need a computer or tablet with an internet connection to access the lessons, examples, exercises, and assignments. While the course may be completed on a mobile device, the app for Canvas (our learning management system) is not yet fully responsive, and you may have a better experience on a computer. No software or material is loaded onto your computer or tablet.

To optimize your online learning experience, see more about the Canvas system:

NGS grants a license to an individual to take this course, with a personal, nonexclusive, nontransferable right to the course materials for that student’s personal educational use only. All students work independently.

Required Texts:

Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Third ed., rev. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2017.

Mastering Genealogical Documentation by Thomas W. Jones, Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2017.

Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones, Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013.


Advanced Skills in Genealogy is geared toward intermediate to advanced researchers who have experience working with most major record types. The right preparation can be crucial for a student to enjoy a successful experience in this challenging course. Recommended prerequisites include formal education such as

  • the NGS Foundations in Family History course
  • another intermediate-level genealogy course and
  • practical experience working with original records
  • research in on-site libraries and repositories

You can view a self-assessment here.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Course?

You can work through the Advanced Skills in Genealogy course at your own pace. If you purchase the full course, you have access to it for eighteen months from your enrollment date—the date we send you the course access invitation. If you purchase the two parts separately, you have access to each part for nine months from your enrollment date.

As a reminder, students who purchase the course in separate parts must purchase them in sequence.

When Can I Start the Course?

Within three business days after purchasing the course, you will receive a welcome email from NGS and a second email with a course invitation from Canvas.


For answers to common questions about the Advanced Skills in Genealogy course, please visit the Advanced Skills in Genealogy FAQ page. For answers to general NGS course questions, please visit the FAQs for NGS Courses page. If you have further questions, please contact the NGS Course Administrator.