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Credential Guidelines

The Association of Professional Genealogists recognizes that genealogical credentials are not widely known or understood in the public sector. Thus the public can be easily misled by inappropriate use which implies special qualifications. To avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the credentials held by APG members, the association sets forth policy for the following criteria.

Professional Credentials

Professional credentials are those awarded by an accrediting or certifying body that conducts a rigorous examination program that is separate from membership in its own or another society; that publishes in professional genealogical literature, and provides (in response to public requests) a clear and detailed explanation of its examination policies and procedures, setting forth the specific standards that successful applicants must meet.

Academic Degrees

Associate, bachelor, or postgraduate degrees awarded to the individual on the basis of academic achievement and completion of degree requirements by an accredited college or university. Such degrees will be followed by the discipline in which the degree was awarded. For example, B.A. (Hist.) or B.S. (Bio.). Only those disciplines with a direct correlation to an individual's work as a professional genealogist will be listed.


Awarded by open-membership organizations to a very limited number of members, in recognition of noteworthy service (examples: fellows of the National Genealogical Society, Utah Genealogical Association, or Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania); or awarded by learned and scholastic societies on the basis of published scholarship that has withstood peer review and public criticism (examples: fellows of the American Society of Genealogists or Society of Antiquities in the United Kingdom). They differ from regular Professional Credentials (see paragraph A) in that applications for the credential are not accepted, the credential is for life with no renewal process, and fellowship is usually limited to a given number of living genealogists. If a postnominal is awarded to all based on voluntary membership, it is not considered an honorific (example: FSAScot, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland).

Professional Learning Certificates

Offered by academic institutions that do not have a formal degree program for genealogy. It is typically based on a program of study that encompasses a number of rigorous courses. Colleges and universities that award professional learning certificates typically award the right to use a set of postnominals. Example: The University of Torontos National Institute for Genealogical Studies that awards the PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies) after completion of 40 courses.

Program Certificates

Certificates of attendance or completion awarded to those who take a single course or other short-term program of instruction. As a rule, professionals do not use a postnominal for this class of certificate based on limited instruction. "Example: Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed, formerly the National Institute for Genealogical Research, or NIGR), the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), and the Samford University Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR). Although they award certificates of completion after a single course, the acronyms of these institutes are not used as a postnominal. The completion of their programs may be appropriately noted in a professional bio.


Section XVIII
APG Policy Manual (Rev. Feb. 2016)

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