Is a Funeral Services Degree Online Possible?

Can You Earn a Mortuary Science Degree Online?

As the human population grows, so too does the need for funeral service professionals—morticians, funeral arrangers, embalmers, and funeral service workers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), morticians can expect employment to grow four percent by 2032, whereas funeral service workers more holistically can expect three percent growth in employment. For all funeral services, this will result in an average of about 5,700 job openings per year over the next decade.

If you are passionate about helping grieving families through moments of need, you may be considering a career in mortuary science. The pathway to this career is relatively straightforward, requiring a college degree and experience in the field. Like many, you may wonder if you can pursue a Mortuary Science degree online.

This article will answer this question in depth, underlining what candidates can expect from a Mortuary Science degree program and how to pursue this impactful and essential career.

What is a Mortuary Science degree?

A Mortuary Science degree is designed to facilitate the training of students to become funeral service professionals. As part of this, the goal of a Mortuary Science degree program is to instill a foundation of integrity, compassion, and moral ethics in students.

An associate degree in Mortuary Science is the standard requirement in funeral services today. These programs prepare candidates for in-demand careers in the funeral services industry, including funeral directors, morticians, undertakers, embalmers, and more. Graduates are well-rounded professionals who can address funeral service processes from the initial death call to the final disposition of human remains.

Standard courses in a Mortuary Science degree program include:

  • Embalming
  • Funeral Service Management and Communication
  • Funeral Service Law and Socio-Ethics
  • Humans and Disease
  • Psychology of Death and Dying
  • Restorative Art with Lab

Not all Mortuary Science programs are the same, however. Students should make sure that their program is accredited to receive a high-quality, industry-standard education. For example, Goodwin University’s Funeral Service program is the only program in Connecticut that is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE).

How to earn a Mortuary Science degree

Funeral services is a very hands-on field, with the day-to-day involving event planning and management, preserving bodies, counseling families, and more. As such, Mortuary Science degrees require in-person instruction and practical training.

In fact, in Connecticut, funeral service professionals like morticians and funeral service directors must receive hands-on experience before earning licensure and officially practicing in the field.

Due to the hands-on nature of this work, all Mortuary Science degrees have some in-person components, meaning students cannot entirely complete a Funeral Services degree online. However, there are flexible class options available, which we’ll explore below.

To summarize, here are the main steps you must take to earn a Mortuary Science degree and launch a career in this field.

Step 1: Understand the requirements of your desired career path

Researching specific career paths within funeral services is essential to understanding the licensing and training requirements. For example, funeral directors must:

  • Be 21 years of age or older
  • Pass a state/national board examination
  • Serve a one to three-year-long internship or apprenticeship

Morticians, on the other hand, must:

  • Earn an associate degree in Mortuary Science
  • Secure an apprenticeship
  • Successfully complete the National Board Examination, administered by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE)
  • Take the Connecticut board exam

Step 2: Earn a Mortuary Science Degree

Regardless of your desired career path, a Mortuary Science degree will provide you with comprehensive industry knowledge and invaluable community support skills.

Through in-class lectures, laboratory training, and hands-on experience in the field, students learn to:

  • Accommodate different religious practices of various faiths
  • Conduct funeral arrangement conferences with families
  • Embalm both autopsied and un-autopsied remains
  • Identify the basics of marketing and merchandising in this profession
  • Prepare deceased bodies using universal precautions
  • Understand the process of cremation and transferring remains

Program length varies slightly, depending on the university and program.

For example, at Goodwin University, our students can earn their 65 credit Associate degree in Mortuary Science full-time in as few as 24 months. Part-time and evening class options are also available for maximum flexibility.

Step 3: Pass the National Board Examination

The National Board Examination, given by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), combines funeral arts and sciences to make sure candidates are prepared for a career in funeral services.

Additionally, passing this exam is a requirement for paid apprenticeships in the funeral service field.

Step 4: Secure an apprenticeship

Candidates can expect their apprenticeships to last one to three years under the direction of licensed funeral directors or managers.

Some schools, like Goodwin University, offer one-year paid apprenticeships as part of their degree programs. Goodwin University students are paired with funeral homes across Connecticut, gaining hands-on experience in embalming, restorative art, and business management.

Our students must complete:

  • 180 hours at their internship
  • Participate in 10 embalming operations
  • 30 hours of on-campus coursework learning business management

Step 5: Sit for the state board exam and start your career

After completing their apprenticeship, candidates are ready to take their state’s board exam. Every state’s exam will have different requirements, so candidates should research what will be asked of them.

Once they take and pass the exam, graduates will be ready for a fulfilling and meaningful career in the funeral service field:

  • At-need and pre-need consultants: These professionals guide families through the complex process of arranging funerals, offering emotional support and recommendations based on individual needs and budgets.
  • Embalmers: Using specialized techniques and scientific knowledge, embalmers prepare bodies for viewing and make sure their preservation follows the legal and ethical guidelines.
  • Funeral service directors: Oversee all aspects of the funeral process, serve as the go-between with families and clergy, and ensure every detail aligns with the wishes of the deceased and their loved ones.
  • Funeral service practitioners: By directly supporting families during visitations, services, and burials, practitioners offer a compassionate presence and see that everything runs smoothly on the funeral day.
  • Morticians: Provide care for the deceased and support for grieving families during their most difficult times.
  • Mortuary transporters: Responsible for the transportation of deceased individuals from various locations to funeral homes, morgues, or crematoriums

Start your funeral service career at Goodwin University

Set yourself up for success in the funeral services industry with Goodwin University’s associate degree in Mortuary Science.

While you can’t earn an entire Mortuary Science degree online, our dedicated career services team and extensive network of employers and alumni provide ongoing support and guidance, including hassle-free enrollment, financial aid options, flexible learning formats, experienced faculty and staff, and state-of-the-art facilities.

Together, we’ll get you through college and into a meaningful career, making a difference in the lives of families when they need it the most.