Funeral Service Education

Allied Health & Sciences

Degree awarded: Associate in Applied Science

Program Narrative

Are you interested in:

  • Helping Others?
  • The Human Biological Sciences?
  • Community Involvement?
  • A business environment?

Have you considered a career in Funeral Service?

The funeral service professional:

  • Provides support to the bereaved during initial stages of grief.
  • Arranges and directs funeral ceremonies.
  • Performs the transfer of the deceased from the place of death.
  • Prepares the body according to the wishes of the survivors and requirements of the law.
  • Sells funeral related services and merchandise.
  • Establishes pre-arranged/pre-financed funeral accounts.
  • Secures information for legal documents.
  • Files death certificates and other legal papers.
  • Assists survivors with details for filing claims for death benefits.
  • Helps individuals adapt to changes in their lives following a death through post-death counseling and support group activities.

Why should you enter funeral service?

  • You are a caregiver who desires to serve others.
  • You believe ceremony is an effective way of expressing feelings.
  • You are open-minded about ways in which people of different faiths and cultures express their feelings and practice their beliefs.
  • You are interested in the technical sciences.
  • You exhibit sensitivity and compassion for those with whom you are in contact.
  • You are interested in learning all aspects of a business.

Funeral Service Education provides you with a comprehensive understanding of all phases of funeral service necessary to serve the bereaved in a professional and ethical manner. The need for funeral directors and embalmers will escalate over the next twenty years and the earning potential has never been better.

Mission Statement

Our mission as Northampton Community College Funeral Service Education is to educate students in the fundamental skills, knowledge, and practice of funeral service. We strive to create a supportive learning environment which fosters communication, critical thinking, self-discipline, compassion and encourages student and faculty research in the field of funeral service. The program embraces the college's mission, vision and values, and is committed to providing an unexcelled educational experience that is inclusive and diverse.


The Funeral Service Education degree program at Northampton Community College is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), 992 Mantua Pike, Suite 108, Woodbury Heights, New Jersey 08097 (816) 233-3747.

National Board Examination pass rates, graduation rates, (beginning in 2015) and employment rates (beginning in 2015) for this and other ABFSE-accredited programs are available at or can be obtained here. To request a printed copy of this program's rates, go to the Funeral Service Education Program Director's office, Commonwealth Hall, Office 106 or by e-mail at, or by telephone 610-861-5576.

Funeral Service Education Aims and Objectives

The Funeral Service Education Program has as its central aim recognition of the importance of funeral service education personnel as:

  • members of a human service profession,
  • members of the community in which they serve,
  • participants in the relationship between bereaved families and those engaged in the funeral service profession,
  • professionals knowledgeable of and compliant with federal, state, and local regulatory guidelines,
  • professionals sensitive to the responsibility for public health, safety and welfare in caring for human remains.

Objectives of the Funeral Service Education Program:

To enlarge the background and knowledge of students about the funeral service profession.

  • To educate students in every phase of funeral service, and to help enable them to develop the proficiency and skills necessary in the profession, as defined above.
  • To educate students concerning the responsibilities of the funeral service profession to the community at large.
  • To emphasize high standards of ethical conduct.
  • To provide a curriculum at the post-secondary level of instruction.
  • To encourage research in the field of funeral service.

Program Features

Northampton's Funeral Service Education is designed to meet the educational requirements for licensure set forth by the Pennsylvania State Board of Funeral Directors.

Upon graduation you will be awarded an Associate in Applied Science degree and will be eligible to begin your 12-month Resident Internship. Our graduates have experienced a high level of placement within the profession.

Students are admitted to the program during the Fall sessions of each year and are encouraged to participate in the social and community service activities of Sigma Phi Sigma- The Funeral Service Education Student Association. Funeral Service Education core courses are offered during the day.

Program Admission Requirements

Acceptance into the Funeral Services Education Program is competitive and you wil need to meet certain prerequisites to be considered for admission. These admission criteria include:

High school graduates and non-traditional student applicants: will need to have completed high school Biology and Chemistry (with labs) with a grade of C or better AND have an overall G.P.A. of 2.5 or better.

Transfer student applicants: Grades of C or better in each course being transferred in; achieved a minimum G.P.A. of 2.5 for any college-level work completed.

Funeral Service Education core courses (courses with the prefix FUNS) may only be taken by those students who have completed the 60 hours of general education requirement. See prerequisites for grade requirements.

A physical examination and completed medical health form are also required for acceptance. Obtain necessary immunizations and/or titers. Have or obtain health insurance.

The application procedure for Funeral Service Education is as follows:

1. Forward completed application with $25 (non-refundable) fee to the Admissions Office.

2. Have official transcripts from all institutions attended (high school and college, if applicable) to the Admissions Office. Your file will not be reviewed until all transcripts are received.

3. Files completed by February 1st will be given primary consideration for acceptance. Applications received after this date will be reviewed on a space available basis only.

A Funeral Service Education advisor will guide you in selecting the appropriate courses that will prepare you to enter the Funeral Service Education core. When you are ready to pursue the Funeral Service Education core phase (which includes all FUNS courses) you need to submit a Clinical/Core Readiness form to the Admissions Office by February 1st. Priority for core seats will be given to those students with the most general education program courses completed and highest G.P.A.

Contact the Admissions Office at 610.861.5500 for further information.

Program Outcomes

Graduates of the program will:

  • Discuss the history and development of the funeral service profession and practices.
  • Demonstrate competence in the knowledge and skills necessary to perform in the role of a funeral service professional.
  • Recognize the responsibilities of the funeral service profession to the community at large.
  • Demonstrate professionalism and accountability related to the legal, regulatory and ethical issues facing funeral service.
  • Communicate effectively in oral and written forms with client families, peers, members of the funeral service community and those in allied professions.
  • Assess and attend to the pre-need, at-need, and aftercare needs of client families.
  • Employ safe practices, competence and compassion when caring for the deceased.
  • Identify application of scholarly research in the field of funeral service.
  • Complete satisfactorily a curriculum at the post- secondary level of instruction

Funeral Service Education

Associate in Applied Science Degree

Course Code Course Title
Summer Sessions
ENGL 101 English I
MATH___ Mathematics Elective (QL)
PSYC 103 Introduction to Psychology
-------- Elective
First Semester (Fall)
BIOS 160* Human Biology
CISC 101* Introduction to Computers
CMTH 102 Speech Communication
ENG 151L English II (Literature)
BUSA___ Business Elective
Second Semester (Spring)
ACCT 101*
or ACCT100
Financial Accounting I or
Accounting for Non-Accountants
BIOS 202*
Microbiology for Allied Health
BUSA 152*
Business Law I
PHIL 111G On Death & Dying
PSYC 221* Responding to the Bereaved
SOCA 103 Principles of Sociology
Summer Sessions
CHEM 135* Chemistry of Life
BUSA___ Business Elective
------------ Social Science: Societies and Institutions over Time Elective (SIT)
------------ Prescribed Elective +
Third Semester (Fall)
FUNS 101
Principles of Funeral Service
FUNS 102
Introduction to Funeral Service
FUNS 201
Funeral Home Operations I
FUNS 203 Pathology for Funeral Service
FUNS 210 Embalming Theory I
FUNS 241 or Field Study I or
FUNS 212
Clinical Embalming I
Fourth Semester (Spring)
FUNS 105 Funeral Directing
FUNS 220 Embalming Theory II
FUNS 231
Funeral Home Operations II
FUNS 242 or Field Study II or
FUNS 222
Clinical Embalming II
FUNS 251
US & PA Funeral Law
FUNS 255 Cosmetology & Restorative Art
FUNS 280
Funeral Service Education Comprehensive Review
Total Credits

*Students must earn a grade of “C” or better in these courses to begin FUNS Courses

+ Prescribed Elective options: ACCT 151, BUSA 202, BUSA 221, CISC 104

  • For their Social Science: Societies and Institutions over Time (SIT) Elective, students must select a course from the list of approved courses in that category.
  • One General Education course must be taken in a Writing Intensive (WI) section. In addition, writing intensive work is included in various courses in this program; thus completing the program automatically satisfies the program-related Writing Intensive (WI) requirement.
  • Computer competencies are included in various courses in this program as well as in CISC101. Thus, completing the program automatically satisfies the computing requirement.
  • For their Mathematics (QL) Elective, students must select a course from the list of approved courses in that category.
  • Students must earn a grade of "C" or better in all FUNS courses to progress in the program.

Career Potential: Funeral Director, Embalmer, Pre-Need Funeral Counselor