Genetic Genealogy

The emerging field of Genetic Genealogy has quickly grown from two low-resolution tests to a vastly popular array of personal projects with ever-expanding applications. Staying current with research on genetic discoveries is important for identifying genetic relationships, ancestry and descendants.

With DNA testing now available to the general public, determining identity and kinship using DNA has both limitations and benefits. Knowing the four main types of inheritance patterns – Y-DNA, mtDNA, atDNA and X-DNA – and what to do with them are central tenets to good practice.

In Genetic Genealogy you will engage with a seasoned instructor and enthusiastic classmates to understand genetic cousin matching. You will design a testing plan to answer a specific problem and then analyze the results; examine the ethical issues associated with DNA test results and the impact they may have on future and present privacy; and learn the roles DNA can play when documentation from other sources fails.

Please note: Genealogists understand that DNA test results, like traditional genealogical records, can reveal unexpected information about the tester and his or her immediate family, ancestors, and/or descendants. For example, both DNA test results and traditional genealogical records can reveal misattributed parentage, adoption, health information, previously unknown family members, and errors in well-researched family trees, among other unexpected outcomes. Before testing yourself or anyone else, it is your responsibility to consider the unexpected information that can be revealed by DNA test results and how this could impact personal relationships.

Course Objectives

In this course you will

  • Describe the unique inheritance pattern of the four different types of DNA used for genetic genealogy (Y-DNA, mtDNA, atDNA and X-DNA)
  • Formulate and apply a strategic testing plan using DNA to analyze genealogical questions
  • Interpret and analyze genetic genealogy test results returned from a testing company
  • Apply the results of genetic genealogy testing to genealogical questions
  • Select and employ third-party tools to maximize the results of genetic genealogy testing
  • Recognize and explain the limitations of genetic genealogy testing
  • Identify the ethical issues created by DNA testing

Review Course Syllabus

Online Format

Reading assignments are completed through interactive Module Notes, as well as links to web-based resources.  Additional activities in the form of knowledge checks, module quizzes, case study, weekly discussions and communication with the faculty will constitute the course.

  • Interaction:  Weekly discussion boards to promote peer-to-peer learning
  • Time Commitment:  7-8 hours per week
  • Total Hours: 45 hours

Screen shots from the course:Genetic1



Blaine-BettingerAn intellectual property attorney with a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, Blaine Bettinger is the author of The Genetic Genealogist, one of the first and the longest running blogs that examines the intersection of traditional genealogical techniques and modern genetic research.

Former editor for the Journal of Genetic Genealogy, he is the author of the popular eBook I Have the Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What?, numerous articles, and is a sought-after lecturer.