National Genealogical Society

Educational Courses

Frequently Asked Questions
Continuing Genealogical Studies

Should I take an online course?
When deciding whether to take an online course, you may wish to ask yourself some of these questions:
  • Am I a self-starter?
  • Am I self motivated?
  • Do I budget my time by setting schedules to get my work done?
  • Do I benefit from working or learning on my own?
  • Do I have basic computer skills in word processing, using the Internet, and sending and receiving e-mail attachments?
If you answered “yes,” then online learning may benefit you
What makes NGS learning better than others?
Since its beginning in 1903, NGS has strived to provide genealogists with quality training and education. In light of today’s environment, NGS offers you many different formats to fit your schedule, including courses (the American Genealogical Studies and Continuing Genealogical Studies series), educational publications, conferences, and research trips.
How does an online course work?
Online courses use a Learning Management System (LMS) to provide students with various materials needed for the courses, including web pages, videos, and websites. NGS uses the Canvas Learning Management System by Instructure.
How long does it take to complete an online course?
Unlike a continuing education course, NGS courses have no set time or date for attendance. These courses are geared toward individuals who have a variety of schedules. After registration, you have access to the course for a designated length of time. See the individual courses for access and syllabus information.
What is the difference between the Continuing Genealogical Studies and American Genealogical Studies courses?
The Continuing Genealogical Studies courses focus on subjects that help you further your research. Within each self-graded course are chapters providing instruction, examples, web links, assignments, self-correcting quizzes, bibliographies, and glossaries. Students do not receive a certificate for courses in this series. See the Continuing Genealogical Studies web page for further information.
American Genealogical Studies is a multicomponent series covering many different types of genealogical topics and research skills. Within each self-graded course are chapters providing instruction, examples, web links, self-correcting quizzes, bibliographies, glossaries, and written graded assignments. Upon satisfactory completion of the three components, students receive a certificate. See the American Genealogical Studies web page for further information.
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.
What hardware do I need on my computer for the online NGS courses?
We recommend the following:
  • Operating System
    • Windows 7 (or higher)
    • Mac network connection
  • 56k modem connection
    • Broadband
    • DSL
    • Wireless high speed connection
What software do I need on my computer for a Canvas course?
  • We recommend the following:
  • Browser (see the question below)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Anti-virus software (periodically updated definitions with regular scans)
  • Spyware removal software (periodically updated)
Which browsers work for a Canvas course?
Canvas works with the current version of many popular browsers such as:
  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Apple Safari
  • Internet Explorer
Please understand that some Internet providers (AOL, for example) do not work well with Canvas. If this is the case, you need to minimize the program and use an alternative browser to access the course.
Can I do my coursework on my computer or on my iPad, iTablet, or iPhone?
Yes! In addition to your computer, Canvas can work on an iPad, iTablet, or iPhone. Instructure does not currently have an Android app.
Can I do my coursework without being connected to the internet?
You need an Internet connection to do your coursework. However, you can download various pdf readings to your iPad, iTablet, or iPhone or computer.
How do I log in to Canvas?
Upon registering for the course, you receive instructions for logging in to Canvas for the first time. Please keep track of your password. If you misplace the web page for the login, you can find it on our website under the Education page on either the American Genealogical Studies or Continuing Genealogical Studies. This login appears on the menu on the left side of the page.  page
Why am I asked to “Log off” after each session?
NGS has a certain number of licenses to use the Canvas system. By logging off, you allow us to maximize the number of students using these courses. This in turn keeps course costs reasonable.
Do I need a subscription to a commercial genealogical website?
While not required, some students find it more convenient to do some of their research online rather than going to the library.
Do I need anything further to take a course?
Please check individual course pages for any specific requirements.
How can I extend my Continuing Genealogical Studies course time?
If you need extra time to complete a Continuing Genealogical Studies [email protected] prior to your course expiration date. course, a one-time extension of three months is granted. Please contact the course administrator at
When do I get my certificate?
Unlike the American Genealogical Studies (AGS) series, the courses under Continuing Genealogical Studies are independent learning courses. NGS does not offer a certificate for these courses.
What is the refund policy for courses?
All course purchases are final. No refunds are issued.
What kind of tech help is available for Canvas?
Please note that Instructure provides NGS with the Canvas software. If you have questions regarding course content, please send an e-mail to Julie Miller at [email protected]. If you have questions about using the system, please send an e-mail to Susan Yockey at [email protected]. We try to answer questions promptly during office hours, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday.
After taking one of the Continuing Genealogical Studies courses, am I a certified genealogist?
Although the National Genealogical Society has a variety of courses available to help you learn about the methods, skills, and standards for certification, NGS is not a licensing body. Therefore, no formal genealogical credential or accreditation is implied. Please refer to the websites of the Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) or the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) for their policies or standards for certification or accreditation.
What other courses does NGS offer?
NGS offers a multimodule course known as the American Genealogical Studies series. The courses under the Continuing Genealogical Studies (CGS) series cover various topics. NGS also offers courses on Special Topics in PDF format.

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