Heather Cromar
Idaho, USA

MSc Genealogical, Palaeographical and Heraldic Studies 

Heather recently graduated with a MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographical and Heraldic Studies. We asked some questions about her experience of studying an online Masters programme with Strathclyde (Heather is pictured above right with fellow student Rhiannon Lloyd at graduation). 

Why did you choose to study at Strathclyde?

The University of Strathclyde is the only university in the world currently offering a master’s degree in genealogy, rather than in a related field. At the time I completed my B.A. (History, BYU), it was not even possible to obtain an undergraduate degree in genealogy.  This meant that my coursework only partially applied and prepared me for my future endeavours.  I was thrilled to discover a few years ago that not only was this graduate degree available, it was a fully online program.  This was particularly important to me as an older adult who did not want to uproot myself and travel elsewhere for additional schooling. 

What did you enjoy most about your course?

The course provided extensive instruction in all areas of my chosen field, while providing reading lists which could provide a lifetime of additional instruction.  The tutors were experts in the field who took a personal interest in ensuring the success of their students.  They were patient, helpful, and insightful.  I will miss the interaction with them now that I have completed the course.  I also enjoyed the interactions with my classmates in the group project.  It was helpful to develop a working relationship with colleagues.

What advice would you give to a prospective student coming to study your course?

This is the course you want to take.  Accept no substitutes. 

Also, give careful thought as to whether you want to take the course as a full time or part time student.  The full time option is extremely time consuming, and you will need to clear your calendar of everything except the most basic items in order to be successful.  That said, if you are diligent and apply yourself, this will be the best preparation you can have for your future career.

What specialist knowledge/professional skills have you developed studying your course?

The work in palaeography was extensive and extremely helpful, particularly the Latin/Scots units.  I worked briefly for the (LDS) Medieval Families Unit, so I felt confident coming into the program that I knew quite a bit about British medieval research.  This course, however, took my skills to a new level, particularly in the area of Scottish research.  Not many courses touch on Scottish research, particularly medieval Scottish research, so I was grateful for the experience.

The DNA unit was also extremely useful.  This is a relatively new area of study for our profession, and I was impressed with the instruction and the projects designed to test my understanding.  I have already applied the knowledge I acquired in client work. 

How is your course helping to enhance your current career and prepare you for your future career?

I currently work primarily as an adjunct professor at BYU-Idaho in the Family History and Genealogy Department.  The course has given me the knowledge, experience, and confidence I need to instruct the next generation of researchers. 

What are your ambitions for the future and how do you think your time at Strathclyde will help you achieve your goals?

One of my goals is to help build the Family History and Genealogy programme at BYU-Idaho.  I hope in the future to be able to help improve the courses already taught and to help develop new courses to enhance the experience of our students.  I think my time at Strathclyde will help me achieve those goals because it provided a solid foundation of knowledge and experience in genealogical research, genealogical standards, and client work.  The tutors on the course were exemplary.  I can only hope to repay their investment of time and attention in my education by working to provide the same experience for others.