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Funeral Service Education

Associate Degree

A.S. in Funeral Service Education

This degree prepares students for entry-level positions in funeral service. It is designed to meet the prerequisites for licensure and employment in the field of funeral service as funeral directors or embalmers.
The central objective of an ABFSE-accredited program must be to educate students in every phase of funeral service so that program graduates are prepared for entry-level employment in
funeral service. In support of this objective, a program must adopt at least the following Program Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of an accredited program, students will be able to:
1.) Explain the importance of funeral service professionals in developing relationships with the families and communities they serve.
2.) Identify standards of ethical conduct in funeral service practice.
3.) Interpret how federal, state, and local laws apply to funeral service in order to ensure compliance.
4.) Apply principles of public health and safety in the handling and preparation of human remains.
5.) Demonstrate technical skills in embalming and restorative art that are necessary for the preparation and handling of human remains.
6.) Demonstrate skills required for conducting arrangement conferences, visitations, services, and ceremonies.
7.) Describe the requirements and procedures for burial, cremation, and other accepted forms of final disposition of human remains.
8.) Describe methods to address the grief-related needs of the bereaved.
9.) Explain management skills associated with operating a funeral establishment.
10.) Demonstrate verbal and written communication skills and research skills needed for funeral service practice.

The Funeral Service Education Program at American River College is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) 992 Mantua Pike, Suite 108, Woodbury Heights, NJ 08097 (816) 233-3747. Web:

NOTE: All courses, including general education, require a grade of "C" or better, and the National Board Examination must be completed before graduation.

The annual passage rate of first-time takers on the National Board Examination (NBE) for the most recent three-year period for this institution and all ABFSE accredited funeral service education programs is posted on the ABFSE web site (

National Board Examination scores, graduation rates, and employment rates for this and other ABFSE-accredited programs are available at To request a printed copy of this program’s scores and rates, go to Health and Education 770 or by email at or by telephone at (916) 484-8145.

Catalog Date: June 1, 2021

Degree Requirements

Course Code Course Title Units
ACCT 101 Fundamentals of College Accounting 3
BIOL 102 Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology (4) 4
   or BIOL 103 Human Anatomy for Funeral Services (4)
BIOL 130 Microbiology for Funeral Service 3
BUS 340 Business Law 3
CHEM 130 Chemistry for Funeral Service 4
ENGWR 300 College Composition (3) 3
   or ENGWR 480 Honors College Composition (3)
FSE 297 Internship in Funeral Service Education 5
FSE 300 Introduction to Funeral Service 2
FSE 310 Funeral Directing I 3
FSE 312 Funeral Directing II 3
FSE 320 Funeral Service Law and Ethics 3
FSE 330 Merchandising in the Funeral Service Industry 3
FSE 335 Funeral Service Management 3
FSE 340 Pathology for Funeral Service 2
FSE 350 Restorative Art 3.5
FSE 360 Embalming I 4
FSE 365 Embalming II 2
FSE 370 Funeral Service Counseling 3
MATH 110 Elementary Geometry (5) 5
   or MATH 120 Intermediate Algebra (5)
PSYC 390 Psychology of Death and Dying 3
SPEECH 301 Public Speaking (3) 3
   or SPEECH 331 Group Discussion (3)
Total Units: 67.5

The Funeral Service Education Associate in Science (A.S.) degree may be obtained by completion of the required program, plus general education requirements, plus sufficient electives to meet a 60-unit total. See ARC graduation requirements.

Enrollment Eligibility

To be eligible for enrollment in the program, the student must meet the following criteria:

  • Graduation from an accredited high school (graduates from outside the United States must have transcripts evaluated by an approved independent agency), or successful completion of General Educational Development (GED) Test or California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE).
  • BIOL 102 or BIOL 103, BUS 310 or ENGWR 300 or ENGWR 480 or ESLW 340, FSE 300, MATH 110 or 120 or higher with a grade of "C" or better.
  • Minimum cumulative college GPA of 2.0.
  • A Curriculum Planning Summary Sheet completed by an ARC counselor and dated within the semester the enrollment packet is submitted.
  • A completed pre-enrollment application.

Enrollment Process

Eligible students are selected for the program according to the following steps:

  • Pre-enrollment applications to the program may be obtained from the Health and Education Division Office, the Coordinator of the Funeral Service Education program, or at The Funeral Service Education program currently accepts students once per year for the Spring semester which begins in January. Deadline to submit the application is by the second Friday in November.
  • Only students who meet the pre-enrollment requirements and follow the pre-enrollment procedures will be considered for the program.
  • Selection is based on a random selection process among eligible applicants should the number of applicants exceed available space in the program.
  • Students admitted to the Funeral Service Education program are required to have a physical examination, laboratory and licensing agencies inoculations, drug screen, and background check by the completion of the first semester of the program. Students are responsible for any costs incurred related to meeting the health requirements.
  • If a minimum number of qualified applicants are not received, enrollment will be delayed until the following semester, at which time applicants will be required to reapply.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this program, the student will be able to:

  • choose the correct techniques for each embalming case.
  • analyze information given by the family to complete the necessary paperwork for the state of California and other government agencies.
  • recommend options for the appropriate disposition of the decedent's remains.
  • contact the appropriate clergy, agencies, and organizations for the disposition of the remains.
  • evaluate and prioritize the funeral choices of the family in a timely manner.
  • create a funeral service for the family.
  • participate as a volunteer in a community service activity.

Career Information

The student is eligible to take the National Board Exam and state board examination to become a licensed funeral director in California. The student also meets the criteria to take the state embalmer's examination. As an accredited mortuary college, our program goals and objectives are as follows: ·To prepare students to be members of a human services profession ·To prepare students to be members of the community in which they serve ·To be participants in the relationship between bereaved families and those engaged in the funeral service profession ·To offer professional knowledge of and compliance with federal, state, provincial/territorial, and local regulatory guidelines ·To be sensitive to the responsibility for public health, safety, and welfare in caring for human remains