Three years ago, I decided that it was time to turn my genealogy hobby into a more professional venture. While I'm not ready to hang up my own shingle, I did want to formalize my education. I looked into several types of courses. After speaking with Louise St. Denis at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, I started their coursework.
The National Institute has several course offerings in different Tracks. I chose to study American Records. To earn a PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies) , I had to take 40 courses, of which 14 were General Courses, 14 were specifically about American Records, and 12 were elective courses. Most courses are 8 weeks long, with one lesson per week and an exam at the end. I could actually do them at my own pace, and sometimes would complete 2 or 3 lessons in one week if I had the time. All courses were completed online. We were able to interact with others in the course through messages and monthly online chat sessions.
The Generic courses consisted of topics such as "Analysis and Skills 1-3", "Methodology 1-6", copyright, paleography, using the Family History Center, and Genetics. The American Records courses taught such topics as census records, church records, probate records, etc. For part of my elective course-work, I chose to each a Basic Certificate in German Records. This consisted of 4 courses on German Handwriting, German Locales, German genealogic vocabulary and German Church Records.
Some of my course mates were concentrating on other areas such as Canadian Records, British Records or Australian Records. Other electives ranged from courses on how to use Family Tree Maker or Ancestry.com, and how to plan a family reunion, to research on specific locales. Some of the elective courses I took were on Mayflower ancestry, researching 20th century ancestors, and tracing female lines.
I am now able to add PLCGS to my list of credentials.