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Online Mortuary Science Degree Program Information

Online mortuary science degree programs provide students with the basic principles and skills needed to work in the funeral service industry. This article looks at associate's degrees in mortuary science, which can be earned through a combination of online and on-campus study.

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Essential Information

Students can find several mortuary science associate's degree options available through online study. These programs are offered through a combination of online classes and on-campus lab sessions. Some programs call for internships.

Courses that can be taken online in a mortuary science associate's degree program include anatomy, and ethics. Students learn skills for meeting with family members for funeral planning, and some programs include business courses. On-campus labs give students practice in the skills they'll need for embalming, restorative and cosmetic work.

All states require that funeral directors hold a license. Requirements vary, but most states say applicants must be at least 21 years old and a graduate of a 2-year program approved by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. An apprenticeship of 1 to 3 years is usually called for, too. Applicants must pass a competency exam and maintain their licenses through continuing education courses.


Overview of an Online Mortuary Science Associate's Degree Program

Online students pursuing this associate's degree gain the technical experience and required skills to work in funeral homes, as funeral home directors or embalmers. The program teaches students the ethical and legal issues of handling bodies and communicating with families. Online students learn the responsibilities that funeral service workers have to the communities in which they work, and the requirements for fulfilling state and local funeral regulations.

Program Information and Requirements

Students can earn an Associate in Applied Science in Mortuary Science through a hybrid of online classes and on-campus lab work. Most classes can be completed via the Internet or through video conferencing. Some programs require that embalming and anatomy be taken on-campus in order to utilize the labs available to fully on-campus students. The online mortuary science associate's degree can be completed in three years.

List of Common Courses in the Online Mortuary Science Associate's Degree Program

The online program requires completion of core courses including accounting, business law, psychology and math. Online mortuary science students take chemistry courses related to the field of funeral service.

Anatomy Course

Students study the body's major systems, especially the circulatory and muscular systems. Basic terminology and overview of cells and organs are covered in this course. Lab work includes dissection and cadaver experience. This course requires on-campus attendance.

Mortuary Management Course

The online mortuary management course addresses the basic requirements of setting up and operating a funeral home. Through this course, students learn basic office management skills, understand how to select a location and personnel for a funeral home and review required documentation for disposal of human remains. Additional topics include survivor benefits, funeral terminology and types of funerals.

Embalming Course

This hands-on course teaches fundamental embalming procedures and techniques. Students learn to position bodies, pose facial features and raise veins. The course examines embalming chemicals, disinfection, blood drainage and fluid injection. The technical nature of this course requires on-campus lab work.

Laws and Ethics Course

The law and ethics course analyzes the rights and responsibilities of funeral service employees. Topics include the body's legal status, cemetery law and wills. Students review estate administration, disposal rights and compliance with regulatory agencies.

Restorative Art Course

Students learn about anatomical modeling, use of cosmetics and techniques of restorative art. The course covers bone structure, facial muscles and color. Additional topics include wax treatments and mouth and eye modeling.

Career Information

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), requirements for pursuing a career in the field of mortuary science include an associate's degree in mortuary science, a 1-year internship and completion of state and national exams (www.nfda.org). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that the number of funeral director careers will increase by 12% during the period of 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). The median salary for embalmers as of 2009 was $40,620, the BLS reported, while funeral directors earned a median salary of $52,210 in 2008.

Continuing Education and Licensure

Students interested in advanced education can pursue a bachelor's degree in funeral home management. Students must complete national and state exams prior to completing their associate's degree. After graduation, students complete a 1-year internship before seeking regular employment at a funeral home. Continuing education in mortuary science is available for degree holders through the NFDA.

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