Similar in some ways to hereditary societies, certificate programs are designed to recognize descendants of specific ancestors by the awarding of certificates. Furthermore, certificate programs are generally not organized for regular meetings and are often peripheral programs structured by local or regional genealogical societies. In general, the respective genealogical societies are thorough and concise when evaluating lineages and awarding certificates.

Several certificate programs honor the descendants of early State pioneers. In some cases, a distinction must be made between an actual 'first families' hereditary society, and a 'first families' certificate program. Determinations are based on the structure of the organizations, as well as the respective research and documentation requirements. Listed here are a number of online certificate programs presently in existence. The webmaster welcomes notification regarding any online certificate programs which are not listed. Please note that other programs exist offline, but, for the sake of time and space, are not included here.