DNA Skills Workshop FAQs

Q: I love attending Diahan’s classes at conferences and your webinars. How is this different?

The Workshops bring the best aspects of her classes and webinars into an extended, hands-on format where you’ll learn in an interactive setting, work on real-life examples, follow up (live!) with your questions, and work on MORE examples to be sure your learning experience is complete and thorough. It won’t just be a fun-but-onetime event, but rather a series of progressive, hands-on tutorials and experiences. Plus, Diahan will be checking your progress to make sure you are learning all the things you need to.

Q: I haven’t done a DNA test myself. Can I still take part in the workshop?

By the time the Workshop starts, you should already have DNA test results in hand from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA (Family Finder test), or MyHeritage. (The cost and ordering of DNA testing itself is not included in the course. See Workshop pre-requisites below about a testing company recommendation.)

This is a hands-on learning experience. We will provide several case studies from which homework assignments will be given. But much of the time in class will be you looking at and working with your own DNA results. Optimally, you’ll be working with your own DNA test results, but you can also use someone else’s, as long as you have their permission and the login access.

Q: Are there any prerequisites for the DNA Skills Workshop?

DNA test. As mentioned above, you should have autosomal DNA test results from one of the major testing companies. Those who have tested at Ancestry will likely have the most rewarding Workshop experience because of the company’s analysis tools and large database of potential matches. A lot of the Workshop techniques are demonstrated on that site. MyHeritage DNA also has a nice suite of DNA tools. Those who have tested there (or transferred and paid the unlock fee) may have a comparably good experience.

Research goal. Preferably, you will have a specific research goal or question in mind when you take a Workshop. Your goal needs to be to find a 3X great grandparent or closer. (Read more about what DNA can and can’t do.) If you don’t have an ancestor in that timeframe you want to find, you will find the class most helpful if you even just pretend you do not know an ancestor, and then use the steps in class to help you learn the process of using DNA in your family history research. Sometimes you’ll discover a research question or goal as you begin learning. Any time you spend making your family tree more DNA-friendly will likely be a good investment.

DNA matches. Ideally, you want to have some DNA matches within the range of whatever question you’re trying to answer. For example, to identify a close birth relative (parent or sibling), you should have DNA matches who share 1200+ cM with you. If you don’t, then we will still be able to learn about your family, but we may not be able to pin down your specific parent. Similarly, if you want to find your 2X great grandparents, you will need 3rd-4th cousins to help. If you do not have the matches you need, we will still be able to make progress in your research, but we may not be able to find that missing ancestor right away.

Prior experience. Unless you’re a really quick learner, we don’t recommend this Workshop if you’re brand new to looking at DNA matches. This Workshop is meant to take your skills from an advanced beginner to an intermediate level.

Q: Can I join the Workshops after they’ve already started?

While we would love to accommodate late arrivals, that won’t be in your best interest. You’ll lose too much by not starting with the class. Don’t worry, there will be more opportunities—sign up for the free Your DNA Guide newsletter to hear about workshop sign-ups first.

Q: Yikes! The Workshop I want is full. Is there a waiting list?

We are so glad you’re excited to join a DNA Workshop! When classes are full, we sometimes offer waiting lists for the next Workshop. Again, get on our newsletter list to stay informed.

Q: What technical requirements are necessary? Is there a textbook?

Each Workshop takes place online. During these weeks, you’ll need a fast, reliable internet connection for learning sessions and for additional learning on your own time. You’ll need access to your DNA test results on whatever testing site you’re using.

Your primary textbook is Your DNA Guide—the Book; you’ll receive an e-book copy when you register. You’ll also receive a workbook and additional reference materials that support your learning.

Q: What’s the schedule for the DNA Workshops? How much total time should I plan to spend on it?

See each Workshop description for its specific schedule. Overall, plan to spend 2-4 hours per week watching prerecorded video tutorials, participating in a live, one-hour Q&A session, working on case studies + homework and on solving your own DNA mysteries. Some people may work more quickly than others, and some may want to dive deeper than others. That part is up to you.

The first week has a live kick-off meet-and-greet session. The last week’s Q&A session is a capstone case study that pulls together all your learning and lasts about 2 hours. (Again, see the Workshop schedule for your session.)

You’ll also have a 20-minute one-on-one coaching or private consultation session with Diahan Southard or one of her expert coaches, which you can schedule anytime during the Workshop.

Q: What if I am not able to attend a live Q&A session?

Life happens, even with the best intentions! While it will probably be more fun to attend live each week, don’t worry if something comes up. These sessions will be recorded. Recordings will be made available in your personal courses page for as long as we offer the Academy. Because the recordings are available, refunds will not be granted due to unexpected changes in your schedule.

Q: What if I get stuck doing my homework?

Great! That means you are progressing! In addition to the weekly Q&A sessions and instructional class time, there will be a group forum for class members to discuss and share in a community setting. Furthermore, everyone is invited to pair up with a research buddy to keep each other motivated and accountable. Each participant will also receive a 20-minute, private mini-consultation with an expert coach at some point during the Workshop, so you can use this time to discuss your unique DNA situation or homework challenges.

Q: What guarantee do I have that this course will work for me?

“I am so confident that my Workshops and Courses will make YOU more confident in using DNA for family history that I offer a money-back guarantee. If after 6 months from the start date of a Your DNA Guide Academy experience in which you have fully participated (meaning you have watched and marked “complete” each video tutorial, completed the classwork and homework, and have asked for help on the discussion boards), but are not more confident in this ‘using-DNA’ thing, I will refund the full cost.” -Diahan Southard

Q: What is your refund and exchange policy?

Your DNA Guide understands that life happens, even with the best intentions! That is one reason that with your purchase of an Academy Workshop, you will retain access to the videos, course materials and discussion boards for the lifetime of Your DNA Guide! (Wow! That’s a L O N G time!) That means that if something comes up and you are unable to complete the course
within the “suggested” time frame, that’s ok.


The workshops are supported by an online eLearning platform which provides you an option to complete the course at your leisure. Additionally, the live Q&A sessions are recorded should you be unable to attend any of the sessions live. You retain access to these materials and all other resources for as long as we offer the Academy. Furthermore, the eLearning platform  houses prerecorded video instruction, real life case studies and a discussion board for ongoing conversations with experts and fellow students. A full-length, printable-PDF workbook bundles the classwork, homework and research log into a convenient, all-in-one textbook and reference guide for you to consult and continue to refer to in the future. Buddy groups are optional resources for students should they choose to take advantage of this networking opportunity. Please Note: We have had several students who have completed the DNA Skills Workshop without attending the live sessions who have achieved great success in their skill development and with their research goals.  


One-on-one coaching with a genetic genealogy expert is provided with these workshops and may be scheduled for a finite time within the time frame of the class and shortly thereafter. We want to be flexible to your unique situation but maintain a structure that benefits the flow of the workshop as a whole. Please consult the following timeline of options when life’s changes begin to unravel your best laid plans:

   1. Prior to the kick off meeting. Our best option is to move you to a future course. To do so, the following conditions must be met: 1) There is space in a workshop in the next 12 months; 2) Your DNA Guide has been notified prior to 24 hours of the kickoff meeting. Should space not be available in a workshop in the next 12 months, or those dates still do not work for you, a $99 cancellation fee is assessed.
   2. After the kickoff meeting. Because the recordings are available for the lifetime of the course offering, and the discussion board is open all hours to answer your questions, even after the course concludes, refunds will not be granted due to unexpected changes in your schedule once the workshop has been kicked off.

Q: What workshops will you be adding in the near future? How can I stay informed about them?

The best way to keep up is to subscribe to the free newsletter, where everything is announced first.

Q: Do you offer these courses for genealogical societies to participate in?

We are currently developing options for societies or groups to run their own private classes for their members. (Like everyone else, I miss meeting in person with my favorite groups, and it’s so fun to be in a class with friends!) If you’re interested, please contact Diahan.