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Online Embalming Schools and Courses

Courses, diplomas and associate's degrees in mortuary science are available through distance learning. Read on to learn what online embalming programs are available, what courses may be included and whether you will need to be licensed.

What You Need to Know

Embalming programs are available online, but they do require in-person labwork. Embalming courses may be included as part of a Mortuary Science degree. In these programs, students learn about subjects like embalming chemistry, funerary cosmetics and mortuary pathology. Most states require embalmers to hold a license.

Degrees Diploma programs, Associate of Applied Science in Mortuary Science and Associate in Specialized Technology
Licensing All embalmers must be licensed by the state in which they are working
Online Embalming degrees are available online but the lab component must be done in-person

What Can I Learn Through Distance Education Programs?

According to the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), while courses may be taken online, embalming labs must be taken in a clinical setting (www.abfse.org). Some programs offer accelerated on-campus lab sessions for distance learners, so you only have to be on site for a week, while others allow you to complete your hands-on training at your current workplace. In clinical labs, you'll get practical experience with real cadavers, learning how to physically embalm a corpse and gaining first-hand practice conducting routine procedures.

Online courses cover methods and theories such as:

  • Embalming chemistry
  • Historical survey of theories of embalming
  • Methods of preservation, disinfection and restoration of human remains
  • Funerary cosmetics and facial reconstruction
  • Mortuary pathology
  • Thanatology
  • Sanitation procedures
  • Corpse restoration
  • Corpse preservation

What Kind of Schools Offer These Programs?

You can find online embalming courses at a variety of learning institutions that include four-year colleges. Technical schools might offer these courses in an online format as well. You might also be able to find programs through schools that are designated specifically for mortuary science. The following schools offer online courses in embalming studies:

  • Southern Illinois University
  • Fayetteville Technical Community College
  • Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science
  • University of Central Oklahoma
  • Vincennes University

What Online Embalming Programs Can I Choose From?

If you're currently employed at a funeral home, and therefore are able to conduct the clinical component on-the-job, you can earn an associate degree in mortuary science completely online. Alternatively, you may obtain an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Mortuary Science for funeral directors and embalmers by taking most of your classes online, with the exception of clinical labs, gross anatomy and microbiology, which are typically presented on campus or on-site at a funeral home.

You can also enroll in an Associate in Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) degree program in Funeral Service Arts and Sciences if you've already received 60-semester credits from an accredited college. If you don't have previous coursework to transfer, another option is to enter a diploma program in embalming and funeral directing. The majority of the coursework for both the A.S.T. degree and the diploma program are accessible via the Web. However, the restorative art course might require you to be on campus, and clinical embalming labs are oftentimes part of an apprenticeship at a funeral home.

What About Licensure Requirements?

The degree programs and the professional diploma programs all provide you with the training to become an embalmer and funeral director. However, the BLS points out that educational requirements for licensure vary by state, and you may want to check with your state to ensure the education you're pursuing is sufficient for licensure.

Do I Need To Be Licensed?

The BLS maintains that funeral directors must be licensed by the state in which they practice and that some states award separate licenses for funeral directors and embalmers (www.bls.gov). After completing an associate degree in mortuary science at an accredited school, you're eligible to sit for the most state licensing exams, according to the ABFSE. The BLS reports that state licensing exams generally consist of written, oral and skill demonstration components. According to the BLS, some states require you to participate in supervised apprenticeships for 1-3 years.