BYU–Idaho Offers Online Degree in Family History

Contributed By By Carol Brennan Moss, Family History Department

  • 5 September 2013

Students completing BYU–Idaho’s family history research degree can expect to have a strong foundation in professional family history research.

Article Highlights

  • BYU–Idaho introduced a new online degree this year in family history research.
  • This applied associates science (AAS) degree is a collaborative effort between the Church’s Family History Department and BYU–Idaho.
  • The emphasis is placed on mastering research skills and methodology for becoming professional genealogists.

BYU–Idaho introduced a new online degree this year in family history research.

The applied associates science (AAS) degree in family history research, a collaborative effort between the Church’s Family History Department and BYU–Idaho, is a rigorous online course of study that will enable students to increase their skills and knowledge in the field of family history research.

By completing the degree, each student can expect to have a strong foundation in professional family history research. They will have the research experience, knowledge, and portfolio to provide the path to acquiring the professional accreditation of their choice.

The emphasis is placed on mastering research skills and methodology for becoming professional genealogists.

These genealogical courses are not to be confused with the religion course 261, which offers the doctrinal background and beginning steps to work in family history.

The program is offered only online and has a total of 18 courses in order to complete the degree. The program is so new that it is only in its second semester. According to BYU–Idaho’s website for the degree, the practical experiences to be gained through earning the degree are:

• Research methodology

• Internet and computer skills

• How to read old handwriting

• Professional research skills

• Genealogical report writing

• Research in specific geographic areas

• How to create and manage a small genealogy business

This is not an independent study degree but follows the standard semester schedule, which includes collaborative learning experiences with an instructor and other students in small classes. Each course in the program offers introductory and conclusion sections, with an additional 12 lessons and activities, assignments, and discussions required for completion. Assignments include reading and video materials online.

These courses are available to anyone who has an interest in family history, but to pursue and obtain the BYU–Idaho degree or certificate, students must have completed 15 hours in residence at one of the CES institutions.

To learn more about the family history research degree and requirements, see the BYU–Idaho web page: AAS in Family History Research

The depth of the degree can be better understood by looking at the history of its development. A few years ago a partnership was formed between BYU–Idaho and the Church’s Family History Department. BYU–Idaho’s president, Kim Clark, had a goal for an online degree that would develop strong research skills and create excellent employment opportunities. The leaders of the Family History Department were confident it could be done.

A team of Family History Library employees, Family History Library research consultants, and contracted professional genealogists helped developed the course content. Under the direction of the project management team, content specialists followed the BYU–Idaho learning model in developing content. As materials were developed, the online curriculum managers at BYU–Idaho developed the courses now offered through the degree.

“We look forward with anticipation to our experiences with the students in this program as they add to their education and prepare for a family history career,” said Alan Young, BYU–Idaho Online Learning managing director.