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.
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.
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Mortuary Science Associate's Degree
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 abiding by state and local funeral regulations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The laws 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.
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.
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.
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 service occupations will increase by 5% during the period of 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The median salary for all funeral service careers as of 2015 was $53,390, the BLS reported, while morticians, undertakers and funeral directors earned a median salary of $48,490.
Continuing Education and Licensure
All states require that funeral directors hold a license. Requirements vary, but most states say applicants must be at least 21 years old and graduate from 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.
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.
Online mortuary science associate's degree programs may require students to complete lab work on-campus to learn about anatomy and embalming. Depending on your specific mortuary science career, a license, post-graduate internship, apprenticeship or continuing education may be required.