Forensic Genetic GenealogyOnline Graduate Certificate

The Next Generation of Forensic Investigations

The fully online Graduate Certificate in Forensic Genetic Genealogy is the first program of its kind in the world. It provides individuals from the public and private sectors with a depth and breadth of knowledge and training in the core competencies necessary to effectively carry out Forensic Genetic Genealogy investigations. This comprehensive program provides a unique opportunity to broaden your education and develop key knowledge and skills in this specialized field.

Your learning begins with the most up-to-date primer on the fundamentals of forensic biological evidence and the current forensic DNA profiling workflow that is practiced in forensic investigations, prior to the use of forensic genetic genealogy. Following this, you will learn about advanced DNA testing methods for genetic genealogy purposes with the goal of harvesting probative information from biological evidence to infer genetic relatedness between individuals. You will be trained in the use of the many tools available to make connections between genetic matches/relatives that are identified in the public genetic genealogy databases approved for use by law enforcement. Next, you will gain significant knowledge in genealogical research using documentary evidence and the building of family trees, with a strong focus on adhering to the Genealogical Standards. You will learn how to critically evaluate and correlate accurate records to reach credible conclusions about identities and relationships using reliable sources. This comprehensive educational program will provide you with the knowledge and skills to efficiently, and importantly accurately, use this novel investigative tool in both forensic/criminal investigations and family history research. Your learning will culminate in a practical experience where you will put your newly gained knowledge and skills to the test. This is achieved through investigating a mock forensic genetic genealogy case, with the goal of demonstrating your professional competency in the use of this novel investigative tool.

Key Features:

  • Format: 100% online
  • Course delivery: Asynchronous (i.e., no live class times/lectures)
  • Time to complete program: 10 months
  • Term Schedule: One course per term, taken in sequence
  • Cohort program: Students begin and end the program together
  • New program cohort begins every January
  • Four 3-credit courses required (12 credits total)
  • Current Tuition: $1,020 per credit
  • 30% tuition discount for current members of the Law Enforcement/Forensic Science community
Course Term Delivery Credits
FORS 6600 Fundamentals of Forensic Biological Evidence* Spring I mini-term; 7 weeks (January – March) 3
FORS 6601 Forensic Genetic Genealogy Spring II mini-term; 7 weeks (March – May) 3
FORS 6602 Genealogical Principles and Methods Summer term; 12 weeks (May – August) 3
FORS 6603 FGG Practicum Fall I mini-term; 7 weeks (August – October) 3
Total Credits 12

*For students who are already experienced forensic practitioners and therefore do not need the content delivered in the first course (FORS 6600), this course can be substituted with FORS 6604 Forensic DNA Phenotyping: Appearance and Ancestry (delivered Fall II mini-term), or another course of interest pending discussion and approval.

Learn from professors who are dedicated to your success.

Our faculty are leaders and innovators in their fields, bringing both deep professional experience and academic rigor to the classroom.

Required Courses
  • Fundamentals of Forensic Biological Evidence (3 Credits)

    Spring I mini-term: January – March (7 weeks)

    This course introduces the student to forensic biological evidence and how it relates to forensic investigations from the crime scene to the crime lab. The recognition, preservation, identification, individualization, evaluation, and reconstruction of biological evidence will be covered. Students will be introduced to the forensically relevant biological evidence types typically encountered in forensic investigations, such as hair, skin cells, teeth, bone, blood, semen, saliva, etc. The biological origins, processing, identification, and interpretation of these evidence types will be examined. The fundamentals of traditional Forensic DNA profiling (STR profiling) and an overview of criminal DNA databases will also be covered.

    *For experienced forensic practitioners, this course may be substituted with another course pending discussion and approval with the program director.

  • Forensic Genetic Genealogy (3 Credits)

    Spring II mini-term: March – May (7 weeks)

    This course introduces the student to the field of Genetic Genealogy and how it is currently applied in a forensic setting. Students will learn the structure and inheritance patterns of autosomal, Y-chromosomal, X-chromosomal, and mitochondrial DNA, and how they are used to identify, verify, and connect genetically related individuals. Students will become familiar with the different technologies currently available for generating the necessary genetic profiles for upload to databases to identify genetic matches/relatives. Students will learn how to use various third-party tools to interpret the results and extrapolate information from them to deduce genetic connections between individuals. Current laws, policies, and ethical considerations will also be covered.

  • Genealogy Principles and Methods (3 Credits)

    Summer Term: May – August (12 weeks)

    This course introduces the student to genealogical research, analysis, and writing techniques using documentary evidence. The Genealogy Standards of the Board for Certification of Genealogists will be emphasized. Methods for planning research, collecting, organizing, and documenting data, reasoning from evidence, and writing genealogical proof will be applied. The student will learn effective search and analysis techniques for common genealogical sources, e.g. censuses, vital records, immigration and naturalization records, land records, probate records, newspapers, etc. The Genealogical Proof Standard will be applied to measure the credibility of conclusions from genealogical investigations.

  • Forensic Genetic Genealogy Practicum (3 Credits)

    Fall I mini-term: August – October (7 weeks)

    This practicum course is not a typical course with lecture content and assignments. Instead, it is a practical experience where the student will put their newly gained knowledge and skills into practice while being mentored and guided throughout. The student will undertake one of the following (all fully online): a mock FGG case/investigation, a research project, or an internship with one of our industry partners. A comprehensive report detailing the methods used, the results/outcomes, and final conclusions will be submitted, along with a full set of records collected and trees built. This practicum experience provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate they have gained the fundamental core competencies and achieved the overall objectives of the entire program.

  • Optional Elective Course
    Forensic DNA Phenotyping: Appearance and Ancestry (3 Credits)

    Fall II mini-term: October – December (7 weeks)

    Forensic DNA phenotyping is an intelligence-driven selection of DNA analyses and inference methods that can generate information on the externally visible characteristics and biogeographic ancestry of an individual from DNA. Its application allows investigators to narrow down a list of potential crime scene trace donors, or provide leads to cold, and missing persons identification cases when all other avenues of investigation are stalled. In this course you will cover the laboratory, computational and statistical processes that allow the prediction of eye, hair and skin color using multiple tools (i.e. HIrisPlex-S, Snipper-suite), as well as the approaches used to infer continental/sub-population ancestry of an unknown individual, from DNA

Admissions Requirements

As this is a Graduate level certificate, applicants must hold a minimum of a Bachelors degree to apply. While it is encouraged that applicants have a Bachelors degree in a scientific discipline, all disciplines will be considered.

For application – a resume, transcripts of former degree(s), and a brief statement of purpose are required. The GRE and letters of recommendation are not required.

Tuition and Fees

Click here to view our most-updated graduate tuition and fees for each academic year.

For current members of the law enforcement community and operational casework laboratory personnel (private/state/federal), there is a 30% tuition discount available pending confirmation of current employment. Click here to learn more about our discount programs.

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