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What is Mortuary Science?

Mortuary Science is a field of study in business focused on deceased bodies.  A funeral service is the ritual, rites, and ceremony to memorialize and honor a person who has died which can be held with or without the presence of the deceased.  A funeral service also attends to the needs of the living by giving them an opportunity to grieve, honor, remember, and grapple with loss in a socially acceptable setting.  Mortuary Science focuses on studying dead bodies through mortuary work.  Studying Mortuary Science will most often lead to a career as a mortician, embalmer, or funeral director.

A degree in mortuary science and embalming is necessary for those who plan to work as morticians and funeral directors. Mortuary science and embalming deals with the restoration and preservation of bodies prior to funerary services. A mortuary science and embalming program does not just educate the student in working with dead bodies, but also with the consolation of the friends and families of the deceased. Mortuary science and embalming programs include coursework in business management and ethics.

Degree Median Salary vs Adjacent Degree Types

Source: BLS, US Census, and IPEDS

2021 Best Mortuary Science Degrees

Gupton Jones College of Funeral Service operates as a two-year private institution dedicated to providing a solid education for students located in and around Decatur. The largest program offered is the mortuary science associate's degree program, with more than 390 students graduating in the last several years. To help students and recent graduates, Gupton Jones College of Funeral Service may provide some services to students like:

  • Online course work available
  • Counseling assistance
  • Assisting students to find work

This school has been accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education, Committee on Accreditation since 1969. Please visit for more information on programs offered and consumer disclosures.

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Carl Sandburg College, located Galesburg, Illinois, was founded in 1966 to serve residents in its service area of west-central Illinois. The school maintains a second campus in Carthage, an extension location in Bushnell, and several off campus learning center sites in various other location. The school offers over fifty career programs, as well as continuing education and adult education programs as part of its commitment to community development. The school maintains ties with nearby institutions and organizations in order to expand its offerings and capabilities.


Carl Sandburg College offers programs that allow for academic transfer and workforce development through career training. Academic transfer programs complete the first two years of a four year education locally and at low cost prior to transferring to a college or university to complete the final two years. Workforce development is achieved through career training programs in a high demand field or industry that take between one and two years to complete and result in a degree or certificate upon completion.

Programs offered include:

Admissions and Financial Aid

Carl Sandburg College is a public, two year, open enrollment institution that admits ant students that are at least eighteen years old or have a high school diploma. Enrollment is achieved through the submission of an application, transcripts, and test scores, as well as paying school fees. Participation in new student orientation and meeting with a counselor prior to registration is encouraged. Financial aid is available in the form of loans and grants which are awarded based on need as determined by the information a student provides on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible for $1,500 scholarship.

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Malcolm X College (MXC) is the first of the seven City Colleges of Chicago. Founded in 1911 as Crane Junior College, it was renamed in 1968 at the behest of the local community. Today, it is one of the premier institutions in the city providing comprehensive technical and academic education through a variety of associate degree courses and certificate programs.

Through the work of Beacon College for Health Science Education, MXC is a leader in community health and offers one of the most robust portfolios of healthcare-related degrees and certifications. At the junior college level, MXC offers basketball and cross-country, as well as intramural opportunities for weightlifting and basketball. An on-campus library provides literary nourishment to the students, while extracurricular activities organized by the several student clubs afford opportunities to interact with each other as well as the community that the college serves.

Including the strong healthcare portfolio of course, MXC also provides educational opportunities in more than 200 disciplines of study such as Biological Sciences, Child Development, Facilities Management, Information Technology and Mortuary Science, among others.

Tuition begins at $5,207 per year, which makes MXC an affordable education hub for the workforce and student community in Chicago’s West Side. In addition to mainstream degree and certificate courses, MXC also offers an adult education program to those who wish to pursue their education after a break. Credit students enrolling in two-year associate degree programs benefit from City Colleges of Chicago’s transfer agreements with some of the top universities and colleges in the United States.

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Piedmont Technical College, located in Greenwood, South Carolina, was founded in 1966 to promote workforce development in its service area. Over the years the school has expanded its role, becoming a comprehensive community college and expanding its service area to include seven counties, which are covered by County Centers that provide education and services in part to reduce the need for travel to the main campus. PTC has the largest service area of any school in the South Carolina Technical College System. The school has ties to the community, working with local businesses in order to promote economic growth, which is reflected in the schools career program offerings. Education is the school's highest priority, and it maintains a high standard in order to meet current and future students' needs.

Piedmont Technical College offers 23 programs of study that result in career development or academic transfer t opportunities. Career programs provide training and education in a given field and assist students in development of skills necessary for entering the workforce as qualified professionals. These programs combine traditional classroom education with practical courses, allowing students to perfect methods and techniques used within their field through controlled environments that simulate real world settings. Programs take between one and two years to complete, resulting in a certificate or associate degree that demonstrates competency and assists in the pursuit of entry level employment.

Academic transfer is accomplished through the completion of the first two years of a four year education, after which the student will apply to a college or university in order to continue one's education. This accomplished by completing the final two years of their education at the new school and earning a bachelor's degree. Transfer to a public institution in South Carolina is made easier through transfer agreements in place between the public systems, though students may apply to private and  out of state institutions which will have more stringent and varying admissions requirements.

Programs offered include:

Admissions and Financial Aid
Piedmont Technical College is an open enrollment institution that allows any individual to enrol if they meet the minimum requirements for admission, submit a completed application and pay all accrued fees. Applicants should also supply transcripts and standardized test scores if available, and take the required placement exam prior to registration. Individuals are also encouraged to participate in new student orientation to become familiar with the campus. Student should also meet with a counselor to discuss career goals, curriculum and program enrollment.

Financial aid is available in the form of loans, grants and scholarships. Students in need of financial assistance are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the resulting information from which will be used by the school to determine financial needs and program eligibility prior to forming an aid packet. Aid must be applied for prior to each academic year. Students may be chosen at random to supply additional information to be compared to their FAFSA in order to verify its accuracy.

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UDC is a public historically black institution located in Washington, DC. Most historically black colleges and universities (also known as HBCUs) were founded after the civil war to provide newly freed African Americans with educational opportunities. As a land grant institution this school is among larger public institutions in the state of District Of Columbia. University of the District of Columbia has an annual student enrollment of about five thousand. A list of some of the more popular programs offered are:

  • Business And Marketing Studies
  • Health And Clinical Professions
  • Liberal Arts And Sciences
  • Education
The school operates under an open enrollment policy, accepting any applicants that meet the minimum requirements for admission. Submission of school records, test scores, and personal statements may be required for certain programs. The cost of tuition is different for in-state and nonresidents. In-state residents pay close to $7,700, while out-of-state residents pay $15,000 per year. Some students at this school may be eligible for financial aid, which is generally offered as scholarships, grants, and loans. University of the District of Columbia participates in intercollegiate athletics through the NCAA's North Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conf in Basketball. Students can visit the UDC website to obtain a complete list of areas of study, admissions information, and more that is available at this school.

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Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) is a two-year community college serving the metropolitan and rural areas of Detroit, Michigan. The College has six campuses that are located in industrial, rural and metro areas where the State's technical and skilled occupations are concentrated. WCCCD provides college transfer programs in liberal arts for those students hoping to transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor's degree. WCCCD, which has more than 90 academic programs, places a very strong emphasis on its occupational and professional career certificate programs.

Wayne County Community College District has recently added new programs, improved its offering of student services, and has upgraded its facilities and technology. Improvements at WCCCD include:

  • Expanding Programs and Courses Based on Market Needs and Student Demands
  • Capital Improvement Program: Building for the Future
  • National Summits and Conferences
  • Instructional Delivery: Making Education Accessible
  • Special Initiatives
  • Community Events and Programs: Lifelong Learning
  • Workforce Development Partnerships
  • Professional Institutes and Services
  • Seamless Transition from High School to College
  • Award Winning Marketing Programs
  • Community Leaders Participation and Guidance
  • Student Scholarship Fund: Education for Empowerment
  • Widely Recognized Academic and Non Academic Programs


Wayne County Community College District was established in 1967 and opened its doors in 1969. When it was founded, the college did not have its own buildings or facilities. Instead, classes were held in local public schools and buildings in Wayne County.


The academic calendar for Wayne County Community College District follows the semester format, with fall, spring and summer semesters.

Colleges and Schools

The academic units at WCCCD are divided into programs and divisions, rather than into colleges and schools.

Student Life

Student activities are available at each of the WCCCD campuses, and cover social, political, academic, recreational and cultural interests.

Students at WCCCD benefit from a wider range of services than ever before, all designed to help them achieve their academic, personal, and professional goals. The Student Services staff at WCCCD will help guide students in choosing the correct program to meet their goals, whether they are to earn a professional/vocational certificate, to meet the requirements for transfer to a four-year university or for lifelong enrichment.

Academic advisors and staff in the Career Planning and Placement offices will help students choose their classes. Student Services are available at all five WCCCD campuses.


The traditional school colors for Wayne County Community College District are blue and white. The mascot is the "wildcat" and the athletic teams are nicknamed the WCCCD "Wildcats."


The WCCCD "Wildcats" athletic teams compete in men's and women's basketball, among others.

Satellite Campuses

Wayne County Community College District offers online learning as well as onsite learning, and is comprised of six campuses, including:

  • Downriver Campus
  • Downtown Campus
  • Eastern Campus
  • University Center
  • Northwest Campus
  • Western Campus

Community Life

The motto of WCCCD is: "Where learning leads to a better life." This motto carries over into the local community, where many events and initiatives from WCCCD are designed to serve students as well as the public. Some recent WCCCD sponsored or partnered events are the Adoption Festival, Hispanic Heritage Festival, Chancellor's Reading Carnival, International Taste Festival, Bridge to Asia, Passport to Africa, Family Learning Day, School Safety Summit, Spring Book Festival, Global Speaker Series, Global Women's Conference, and more.

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Educational Requirements in Mortuary Science

In terms of educational requirements, Funeral Service and Mortuary Science degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:

Skills & Abilities Required in Mortuary Science

  1. Active Listening
  2. Writing
  3. Speech Clarity
  4. Speaking
  5. Instructing
  6. Reading Comprehension
  7. Oral Expression
  8. Oral Comprehension
  9. Speech Recognition
  10. Written Comprehension

Employment & Specializations in Mortuary Science

For students that earn a degree mortuary science, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue inside or outside the field. Career options can include vocations such as: office manager, auditor, mortician, funeral director, embalmer, managers, auditor, human resources, sales managers, teachers, advertising director, marketing executive, cost estimator, psychologist, social worker, and corporate trainer in the public or private domain to name a few possible career tracks.

Upon completion, programs assist individuals with apprenticeship placement, a necessity for eventually obtaining licensure. All states require licensure for funeral directors, though some states may require separate licenses for embalming and funeral direction. The governing body for program accreditation is the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE).

Mortuary Jobs & Funeral Service Salary

The job growth in mortuary science domain are steadily growing based on recent surveys by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the DOL.  For example, the rate of job growth for funeral directors is expected to rise 5% through 2024 which is on par with the national average for all jobs during this timeframe.

Given the broad nature of the Funeral Service and Mortuary Science degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly .  As an example, the mean annual income for a mortician is currently $56,300 with the bottom ten percent earning $29,260 a year and the top 10% earning $85,060 on average.

Additional Resources for Mortuary & Funeral Service Students
  • Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FMIC)
  • Funeral Service Foundation (FSF)
  • International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards (ICFSEB)
  • National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)
  • National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association (NFDMA)
  • The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA)
  • Cremation Association of North America (CANA)

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