If you’re considering a professional career in funeral services, you may be surprised to learn that enrollment at mortuary science schools has reached record levels in recent years. As demand grows for funeral directors, coroners, embalmers, and morticians (the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 12% growth through 2022), mortuary science degree programs have become popular and, with rising competition for jobs, choosing the right one is now more important than ever.
As of early 2015, 57 degree programs nationwide were accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) and three more were under consideration. This site will help you find the accredited school closest to you, and allow you to compare its program against others to ensure that you make the best decision for your career.
Choosing a Mortuary Science School
There are a number of things you will undoubtedly consider when deciding which mortuary science school to attend. While some of the factors you’ll consider will depend on your personal preferences, others are universal criterion that all students should consider. We’ll review the latter type in this section.
Each of the tabs below contains information on one of the factors you should consider before choosing a school.
The first thing you’ll want to look for when comparing mortuary schools is accreditation from the American Board of Funeral Service Education. The ABFSE is the only accrediting agency for mortuary science programs that is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education.
It is the responsibility of the ABFSE to ensure that any school offering a mortuary science degree conforms to certain educational, societal and governmental standards. Examples of these include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The program must provide or arrange for the provision of classroom, laboratory and clinical field experiences in funeral services
- The mortuary science school must provide a curriculum that stresses the importance of funeral service professionals to the community
- School faculty and students must be held to high ethical standards
- Programs must ensure that students become proficient in all skills necessary to succeed in their profession
- Schools must offer a minimum of an associate’s degree in Mortuary Science
- All instructors and faculty must hold a bachelor’s degree of higher in Mortuary Science
- The mortuary science program must feature a curriculum that additionally features subjects like business management, etc. in order to ensure that graduates are prepared for the myriad responsibilities that their jobs will entail
These are just a handful of examples of what the ABFSE looks for in a mortuary school. Needless to say, however, as long as you look for their accreditation prior to enrolling in a program, you can rest assured that the school is high quality.
Type of Degrees Offered
Although the prerequisite for most funeral service careers is an Associate’s Degree in Mortuary Science, certain employers may require additional training that includes a bachelor’s degree. Not all schools offer this level of mortuary science education, however, so be sure to find out:
- Whether your career objective requires a bachelor’s degree
- If employers in your area prefer job applicants to have a four-year degree
Keep in mind that earning an advanced degree generally leads to higher pay as well, so there are additional benefits to pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
NBE Pass Rates
Because all funeral service professionals must obtain a license prior to securing employment, schools dedicate a significant portion of their curriculum to preparing students for the National Board Exam for Funeral Services. Passing the NBE is a requirement in order to test for licensure in every state, so you’ll want to review the pass rates for graduates from any school you are considering.
You can review the latest pass rates for all ABFSE-accredited programs on this site, or you can visit the American Board of Funeral Service Education’s list by clicking here.
Are Online Classes Available?
An increasing number of online mortuary school classes are now available to students who wish to complete a portion of their training through distance learning. While this has not yet become the norm, many schools do now provide this option.
The advantages of studying for your degree online include:
- Flexible scheduling
- Savings on travel and other expenses
- The option to learn at your own pace
- Increased accessibility
If this option is something you’re interested in, you’ll want to consider whether or not the mortician school you’re looking into offers online classes.
Want to Learn More About Mortuary Science?
This website contains a number of resources for students and those considering careers in mortuary science. In addition to the latest information on salary and job outlooks for funeral directors, morticians, embalmers and coroners, we’ve also provided easily-searchable listings for accredited programs and an FAQ page.
We wish you the best of luck in your career and invite you to take the first step by reviewing the mortuary science schools featured in our directory!