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I've been thinking about taking some courses to improve my genealogical researching and possibly do it professionally in the near future. I saw this site ( which is thru St Michael College part of the University of Toronto.

Has anyone taken any of the courses from this site or know of anyone who has? Pros/cons?  Any other avenues one could take? I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts/suggestions.




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Heh heh ... now I read that NIGS has just acquired this website ... helps if I read the main page first. Nevertheless, my inquiry still stands.

Hi Rob,

I have taken over 50 courses at that Institute. There are other organizations offering courses as well. If you check the Institutes website I believe they are offering a free introduction course to try it out. The course material is a great resource to add to your library, you get to chat with other students and the instructors often through live video. Instructors are always available to help answer course questions. I believe you now have a choice to take the final on-line open book test or not. Taking the test adds to your student profile so you can earn various level certificates and eventually a 'Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies'. I consider the Institute the for-runner in on-line genealogy education. I have tried a couple of courses at Pharos (UK) who are slowly trying to copy the Institute style. If you are Canadian the courses are tax deductible.


Paul Caverly, UE, PLCGS

Thank you Paul for your insights. If you don't mind me asking, which certificate did you pursue? Did you take some electives too? Which course did you find the most interesting? challenging? least favourite?

I'm thinking of trying out the Canadian certificate course since most of my research has been in Canada (Ontario). I couldn't find any free introduction courses. Oh, and thanks for the reminder about the tax deductions.





  I'm like Rob, I'd like to know more also. I'd also like to hear from other's who have taken any of the courses. I don't really care about online video chat's, I haven't really looked into that. Since I'm across the border no tax decuctions, but the courses sound like they could be very good.


All the best,



I have an advance certificate in Canadian Records and American Records. I also have basic level certificates in Irish Records, English Records and one more to complete basic level for Scottish Records. The Elective courses are many and you can review the course content to see if it interests you. A free course is advertised in different genealogy magazines. In ‘Internet Genealogy’ Feb/Mar 2011 the ad says to email or call to discuss an appropriate free course to try out. (One free course per student).

All of the courses were interesting and I started with basic courses. Since I was familiar with doing some genealogy searching the basic courses were simple and built up my moral.  As I progressed the courses required a little more effort. In some cases I was taking several courses at one time. Some of the UK courses were a challenge since I had very little experience researching those records. If you try a free course and are thinking of taking more the course packages are discounted. You need at least $100 in course costs to claim it on your taxes.

Check the Institute calendar for courses that fit your timetable, most are from 4 to 8 weeks. You usually get one reading assignment a week with a short test at the end. When you are at the end there is a longer test of maybe 20 to 30 questions and you can take your time completing these. The FAQ on the Institute site covers most things you need to know.

I still have a number of course credits in my account so I can possibly take something new when it is offered. Genetics and Genealogy was a challenge for everyone and had 8 modules when I took it. It has been modified now to 6 modules. The mentoring programs were interesting but you need to have taken some of the courses or have experience before you can take this course. There are a few computer requirements to get full value from the chat sessions.

I'm so glad to see this thread! Thanks so much for the great information. I've just recently signed up for classes. I'll be completing the certificate program in American Records, though I'm hoping to focus my electives on a specific country (possibly England or Scotland) with an eye on possibly completing that as well.


An additional question for those of you taking courses for credit in one of the certificate programs... How many courses were you able to handle at one time? Being that I'm trying to make the most of my time with NIGS and that I have other things to juggle in my life I am trying to form a rough schedule of when I might take classes. Approximately how many hours did you spend on coursework each week? Is two or three too many to handle at one time? I understand that the basic level classes might be easier to handle in a higher load, I'm expecting to spend quite a good amount of time on this each week as I'm taking the attitude that I would with any certificate or degree program. I'd love any thoughts that you might have based on your experience!



Stephanie, when you start you can definitely handle 2-3 at once. As you get into it you will have to slow it down. Good luck!
Thank you so much, Terri! I've been pouring over your blog and your other message. Replying soon!



I work fulltime and am on the road about 1.5 to 2 hours a day, so I've been taking 2 courses a month. Mind you, I just started the Basic Level in American Records in December. I've been doin genealogy over 37 years but I've still learned a few things. For my electives I will probably do Irish or Canadian records.  Before I started the courses, I spoke with Louise St. Denis and she said most students spend 14 - 16 hours a week on a course. I believe it depends on your experience and how knowledgable you are about a course topic as to how much time you spend on a course. Good luck! I think you'll enjoy the courses. 



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