Report: #1501572

Complaint Review: Boston University Continuing Education -

  • Submitted:
  • Updated:
  • Reported By: Disappointed Students — USA
  • Boston University Continuing Education United States

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The Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research course is far too expensive for the subpar quality of instruction that we received. 


The cost of the course is $2,695.00. The four modules only scratch the surface on a wide range of genealogy topics, but never go into depth.  It was a broad survey of a lot of topics. It was also too compressed and too rushed. Essentially BU tries to cram too much into fifteen weeks, and it does a disservice to the students. 


One of the most important things to remember when selecting a genealogy course is finding one that focuses on what your interests are, how much you can spend, and how much time you can devote to your studies. 


If you decide to enroll in the BU program, be prepared to spend at least 20+ hours a week. Many of my former classmates said the were putting in 30-50 hours per week during some of the course. 


The assignments were very intensive and time consuming. Most of us spent 30+ hours a week on the reading and written assignments. The assignments also had a one week window from when they were posted on the website and when the assignments were due.


Another institution offering genealogy coursework similar to the BU program is the National Genealogical Society. NGS offers American Genealogy Studies, which consist of four courses for a total of $530.00 for all four courses or $65.00 to $200.00 per course depending on the course, and I believe that you can pick which courses work for you. 


In addition to the four core courses, NGS also offers Continuing Genealogy Studies, which have twelve courses that you may choose from depending on your interests. The price of the continuing education courses range from $75.00 to $100.00 per course.  All of the courses are self-paced and individual courses. NGS program is truly an asynchronous course, which is important if you need to work on your own schedule. 


By offering individual courses, you can focus on each subject and take your time to actually learn, process, and absorb the material instead of being rushed through the modules like BU does. 


If you are interested in genetic genealogy and DNA, BU falls very short in teaching the genetic DNA coursework. Before I started this course, I read one of Blaine Bettinger’s genetic genealogy books, and I knew more about DNA from Bettinger’s book coming into the course than what was actually taught. 


We used one of Blaine Bettinger’s books in the class. At the end of each chapter there are exercises. I found the exercises in the book to be far more beneficial than the assignments that BU assigned. 


Many of my classmates regardless of their genetic genealogy knowledge, thought the DNA portion was lacking in depth. 


The National Genealogical Society offers two genetic genealogy courses one beginner and one intermediate level. Each course is $100.00. 


You can find webinars about genetic genealogy taught by Blaine Bettinger and others in the genetic genealogy field.


I have surveyed many of the people who were in the program with me. I also corresponded with some people who took the course in 2018 and 2019.


The biggest complaint was the utter lack of teaching or instructor guidance. Many people said when they asked for help or clarification regarding an assignment, they were consistently told that "due to the nature of this course being advanced, we cannot answer this type of question as it will give you the answer or give away too much information for this assignment." 


Many of my former classmates said that they learned a few things, but did not learn nearly enough to justify the cost of the program. 


One student was told this is a master's level course, and we were expected to be able to complete the course with little to no help or guidance. 


Many of us have masters degrees and during the course of our studies for our master’s degrees, we never experienced this kind of an attitude from an institution of higher learning. 


One of the students whom I interviewed had this to say. 


“The policy about not receiving any help or guidance was not on the BU site regarding the certificate course. It would have been helpful in knowing ahead of time what I could or should have expected. I actually used an instructor's admonition, word-for-word, toward me in my scathing review of one of the modules. 


So, the biggest lessons I learned in taking the course were 1) Do not ask questions of the instructors. 2) Do not ask for clarification regarding assignments. 3) You are on your own until this is over at the end of fifteen weeks.”


BU tries to justify this policy in a couple of different ways. 


They make the claim that students are told at the outset of the course that their online learning experience will be more “student-focused and participative” than typical “classroom learning.” 


We were completely forbidden to communicate with each other outside of the class because there is a strict rule against students collaborating. If your learning style is to collaborate with other students, then some of the other course I mention allows students to collaborate. In fact, ProGen is a collaborative environment.


Their second claim is our facilitators and instructors don't teach to the test; we provide the baseline knowledge for students needed to create work products and complete assignments. There are some questions related to assignments that we cannot answer because we would be teaching to the test.”


While none of us expected them to “teach to the test,” we at least expected some type of instruction for the amount of tuition that we paid. 


Of course, we would expect an advanced class to be challenging.  We did NOT pay $2695.00 for an advanced course that provided very little instruction or any type of guidance. Using the excuse that it is an advanced class NOT to provide instruction is completely unprofessional and unethical. 


As I noted above, any time we asked a question we were met with pat answers or even worse, a few students mentioned that the instructors were rude or condescending in their response. 


“Due to the nature of this course, we cannot answer this type of question as it will give you the answer for this assignment.”

One would think that an instructor would figure out a way to answer a question or provide guidance without giving away the answers to the assignment. 


A few people even said that they were so stressed out from the course that is was making them physically and/or emotionally unwell.


In addition to courses being offered at the National Genealogical Society, there are a couple of different study groups, which are very low in cost. One is ProGen, which has a stellar reputation.


Another is the Gen Proof Study Group, which provides an opportunity for participants to study the chapters in “Mastering Genealogical Proof” by Thomas W. Jones. Participants read each chapter and complete the exercises in the book, then meet together with other genealogists to discuss the concepts. I believe this study group would be very valuable to someone who wants to become a certified genealogist. 


If you are interested in forensics genealogy, there is a course offered through SLIG, called “Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy.” It is nine week course for $500.00, and is being taught by some of the top forensic genealogist in the field. 


SLIG also offers a variety of online classes. 


After researching, reviewing, and interviewing many people in the genealogy field as professionals or students, I can only conclude that there are far better genealogy educational courses available. Especially when you compare the cost and quality of instruction. 





This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/03/2020 12:21 PM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/report/boston-university-continuing/mislead-oversell-promise-1501572. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#4 General Comment

Boston University Genealogy Program

AUTHOR: KD - (United States)

POSTED: Tuesday, November 10, 2020

 I also took the principles course. I agree with the comment left regarding the principles class. I found the information on the website was poorly organized. It was very convoluted and difficult to find the information. The quizzes and the assignments were written in a confusing way. People would ask for clarification, and were told to figure it out. I found the response rude. We were not looking for the answer, but we were trying to figure out exactly what they wanted us to do. There seems to be a prevailing attitude of not answering questions. If you have a busy work schedule, this course is on a tight schedule with time sensitive assignments.

I am certainly glad that I chose the less expensive and shorter of the two courses. If I decide to pursue further genealogy courses, I will look into the courses suggested in the original complaint. My mom’s friend did the certificate course. She has been doing genealogy for 30+ years, she found the original complaint report to be very spot on. She did ProGen after the BU genealogy course.

She absolutely loved it. She loved collaborating with her study group. She really enjoyed learning from the other group members. She liked the pace because she felt like she had time to absorb the material. She thought the BU program was too rushed.

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#3 Author of original report

Correction to post

AUTHOR: Anonymous - (United States)

POSTED: Tuesday, November 10, 2020

 I did not take the principles course. I interviewed people in the principles course. I used too much copy and pasting in my original comment, so I need to make the corrections. I need edit more carefully before posting. I apologize for any confusion.

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#2 Author of original report

Boston University Principles Genealogy Course

AUTHOR: Anonymous - (United States)

POSTED: Tuesday, November 03, 2020

 I completed the BU principles genealogy course. The attitude of the instructors and facilitators was the same as what was written in this complaint for the certificate program. The instructors implied that we did not know how to study, which is an utter deflection. The problem is they do not know how to teach. Many of my classmates spent 20-30 hours a week on the assignments. It is very time demanding. I am just glad that I opted for principles course over the certificate course. I saved $1700.00 and principles is approximately half as long, which was pretty miserable. I could not imagine doubling the amount of time for that kind of misery.

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#1 Author of original report

BU Genealogy

AUTHOR: Anonymous - (United States)

POSTED: Tuesday, November 03, 2020

An additional finding aid.

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