BYU-Idaho offers online degree in family history

Church collaborates with BYU-Idaho for effort

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

The Applied Associates Science in Family History Research Degree, 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.

BYU-Idaho offers a new applied associates of science degree in family history research.
BYU-Idaho offers a new applied associates of science degree in family history research. Photo: IRI

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.

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 a 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.

In the subsequent three years, a team of staff members from the Family History Library took on the task of providing the content for the courses. A team of content specialists was put together by library staff members, which included library staff and outside professional researchers. As materials were developed, the online curriculum managers of BYU-Idaho developed the courses that make up the degree.

The focus of the records for the degree comes from the United States, England, Germany and the Nordic countries. The BYU-Idaho model of education provides the design for the degree and is offered for the BYU-Idaho matriculating student. These courses are available to anyone who has an interest in family history, but to pursue and obtain the BYU-Idaho degree, students must have completed 15 hours in residence at one of the CES institutions.

"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.

For more information, please consult the BYU-Idaho website:

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