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Mortuary Science Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Morticians, undertakers, funeral directors and embalmers have all received their training from mortuary science programs. Since funeral directors must deal with the reality of preserving or disposing of human remains along with the survivors of the deceased, mortuary science programs feature a wide range of education, from psychology to microbiology.

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How to Select a Mortuary Science School

Students can find associate and bachelor's degree programs in mortuary science at 4-year universities and 2-year community colleges through schools' health services divisions.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Licensing requirements
  • Program requirements
  • Accreditation

Licensing Requirements

Depending on the state, requirements for funeral directors and embalmers may vary, so students may want to check with the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) for additional requirements by state. By doing this, students can find out which schools will satisfy all state regulations and what other education, training or licenses they may need outside of the mortuary science degree. For example, Alabama requires funeral directors to complete some postsecondary education in mortuary science and a 2-year apprenticeship prior to completing a national exam, while Florida requires an associate degree in mortuary science, a 1-year apprenticeship and continuing education credits.

Program Requirements

Schools typically conduct preliminary interviews and background checks for mortuary science programs, as well as require previous education in the sciences. Students may be required to complete an internship.

Accreditation

Students will want to make sure their school is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE). This is the only accrediting agency accepted by the U.S. Department of Education.

Mortuary Science Program Overviews

Associate of Applied Science in Mortuary Science

The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Mortuary Science program lasts around 2-4 years. Most associate degree programs require students to have completed general education courses prior to enrolling in the AAS program. Prior to becoming a licensed mortician, all students must pass the national board exam for funeral directors. Courses offered cover topics in:

  • Psychology
  • Pathology
  • Embalming and restorative art
  • Mortuary law
  • Management

Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science

Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science programs last four years, including general college courses. Undergraduate programs not only prepare students for the national board exam and provide mortician education and laboratory experience, but they often require that students take on internships in local funeral homes. Throughout the program, students learn to support the bereaved, prepare bodies, secure legal documents, advise survivors and manage business. Courses taken include:

  • Funeral service rules and regulations
  • Embalming theory
  • Community health
  • Funeral business
  • Human anatomy
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