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A.A.S. Family History Research Frequently Asked Questions


Who can take the family history research courses?

These courses are available to any BYU-Idaho student.  This includes matriculated (degree-seeking) and non-matriculating students.

If I am not interested in completing an applied associates degree, can I still take courses?

Anyone who meets certain requirements can apply to BYU-Idaho as a non-matriculated (non-degree-seeking) student. 

Do I need to obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement to participate in this program?

Yes. Each perspective student will need to meet with local Church leaders to obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement.

Do I have to be a member of the Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to take classes at BYU-Idaho?

No.  People who are willing to live the standards defined by the University can also receive an ecclesiastical endorsement and take BYU-Idaho classes.

How can I take courses if I don't want the degree?

Non-matriculating (non-degree-seeking) students can take courses without ever progressing toward a degree.  The following web site outlines the application process for non-matriculating students:

I want to earn the degree, but I do not live near the BYU-Idaho campus. 

One of the great benefits of this program is that the courses are all taught online.  An enrolled student with access to the Internet can access course materials.

Can I take courses whenever I want?

Although all the courses in this degree are online, none are independent study.  Courses follow standard semester schedules, and students work in a cohort with an instructor.   

When will courses be offered?

Classes for this degree are available now.  The 14-week courses begin in January, April, and September.

How long will it take me to complete the degree?

A full-time student could complete the applied associate's degree in family history research in four semesters. 

How does this degree prepare me to certify or accredit as a professional genealogist?

The goal of this degree is to prepare students to become genealogical researchers who could be employed to do client research.  A credential from one of the two professional genealogical organizations is not necessary in order to do professional research.  It can be very helpful, however, and is strongly advised for someone seeking a career as a professional genealogist.

While no associate degree can completely prepare a seasoned researcher, this degree emphasizes practical experience in research methodology and report writing, and provides instruction in starting and running a successful small business. Mastering essential research skills and methodology, not theory, is the emphasis of this degree.

Students who wish to receive professional genealogical credentials will need to gain additional skills through genealogical research.  The two professional genealogical organizations specify the number of required personal research hours a person must complete before being able to apply to take the respective examinations.

For more information, see these web sites:

Board for Certification of Genealogists

The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists 

How do I certify or accredit to become a professional genealogist?

Both the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) have set standards for genealogical research and offer comprehensive examinations.  ICAPGen was formed to take on this certification role when the Church's Family History Department discontinued its own certification program some years ago. 

The professional genealogical examinations given by both organizations validate applicants' knowledge of particular geographic localities and records and require them to demonstrate research proficiency.  The examinations are the genealogical equivalent of professional board certification in other disciplines.

For more information, see these web sites:

Board for Certification of Genealogists

The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists 

What can I do with the degree if I do not certify or accredit as a professional genealogist?

The skills that students learn in this program can be applied as they conduct family history research with their extended families and as they help others in their local church units.

Students who complete the degree will gain research methodology skills they can use in doing basic genealogical research for clients.  If they later choose to pursue professional certification or accreditation, the skills they learn in the coursework will provide a solid foundation they can build upon.