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Associate of Applied Science

Associate of Applied Science

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The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Funeral Service is issued to students who complete the college level curriculum of funeral service arts and sciences.  This degree is designed to lead students to licensure and employment as a funeral director and embalmer.  The A.A.S. Degree in Funeral Service program and Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service are accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), 992 Mantua Pike, Suite 108, Woodbury Heights, NJ 08097 (816) 233-3747.  Website:  www.abfse.org

The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Funeral Service (A.A.S.) is designed to teach students the skills and abilities essential for employment as an embalmer and funeral director.  Graduates of this program will be able to disinfect, preserve, and/ or restore human remains through embalming and restorative art for the purposes of viewing, services/rites, and final disposition.  They will learn how to conduct various funeral service ceremonies.  Additionally, they will be able to conduct funeral arrangement conferences with families, conduct necessary funeral home paperwork and management tasks, and be aware of proper workplace safety guidelines for funeral service personnel.

Graduates of this program may find entry-level employment as an apprentice/intern/provisional licensee with funeral homes, embalming services, cemeteries, and affiliated funeral service companies.  Individuals seeking these credentials must also meet the requirements of the appropriate state licensing agencies.

To earn the A.A.S. degree, the student must fulfill all requirements for the General Education Core of 24 quarter credit hours as outlined in this catalog section, the Specialized and Related Courses, and all clinical labs and externships. The A.A.S. degree is an accelerated program. Students will be able to complete the program in 15 months (five, eleven-week quarters). If a student transfers all of the General Education Courses, then they will be able to complete the program in 12 months (four, eleven-week quarters). The A.A.S. degree program is intended to be taken as a full-time curriculum. Classes are not allowed to be taken on a part-time basis except in certain, special circumstances whereby transfer credit has been granted.

Required Externships & Labs

All A.A.S. degree students must complete the curricular labs and externships as a requirement for graduation.  This translates the theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom into practical, hands-on experience.  Included are the three following areas: funeral directing, embalming, and restorative art.

  • The Funeral Directing Externship consists of two parts, activities and arrangements.  The activities portion requires students to attend and observe 5 different types of real funeral services/ceremonies outside of the classroom.  The arrangements portion involves students completing 5 arrangement conferences from first-call to contract – these may be completed in a mock setting on campus.
  • The Embalming Externship may be completed wholly on campus.  All students will actively participate in the arterial and cavity embalming of at least 10 human remains.  Competency in numerous embalming tasks will be assessed.
  • The Restorative Art Lab consists of 10 hours of clinical instruction regarding wax restoration, feature modeling, and mortuary cosmetology.  Students will use photographs to recreate an entire face; with a focus on facial proportions and the specific facial features.  This lab must be completed on campus.

In general, campus degree students will complete all lab and externship requirements on the CIFS campus.  The only exception is the Funeral Directing Externship activities which cannot be completed in a mock setting and is an assignment in a 1st quarter specialized course.  Embalming is done during the 3rd quarter of specialized courses – one afternoon per week according to a preset schedule.  During the 4th quarter of specialized courses, campus students will complete both the Restorative Art Lab and the Funeral Directing Externship arrangements.  These 4th quarter requirements typically take place during normal school hours.

Tuition & Fees

If the general study courses are taken at Commonwealth, tuition and fees will be $16,687 payable as follows: $50 non-refundable application fee due with application, $50 graduation fee due 30 days prior to graduation, and $16,587 tuition.

If general study courses are transferred to Commonwealth, tuition and fees will be $12,583 payable as follows: $50 non-refundable application fee due with application, $50 graduation fee due 30 days prior to graduation, and $12,483 tuition.  Cost of tuition is calculated at $171.00 per quarter credit hour.

Online Associate of Applied Science

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A student may elect to complete the Associate of Applied Science degree via online instruction. Courses taken through this option follow the same academic term and length, rigorous academic coursework, and admission requirements as those on campus. The online course instructional delivery will follow the on-campus classroom instruction so that all students, regardless of modality, are learning the same information at the same time.

This program is NOT delivered in a self-paced or correspondence method approach.  In general, online course topics/lessons are presented on a weekly basis.  All online courses will have at least one weekly assignment to assess the material presented that week.  Students may go through material and complete assignments according to their own schedule; provided that weekly deadlines are met.  In most instances, it is neither required for students to log in at a specific time nor interact with instructors and/or other students in real-time.  However, regular participation and substantive online interaction are strictly required.

All quizzes and exams will be delivered through the school’s Learning Management System (LMS) – Canvas. To ensure exam security and academic honesty, a third-party remote proctoring service is utilized.  This involves the use a webcam, microphone, and high-speed/reliable internet.  However, CIFS reserves the right to require that exams be administered in a proctored setting.

Required Externships & Labs

All A.A.S. degree students must complete the curricular labs and externships as a requirement for graduation.  This translates the theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom into practical, hands-on experience.  Included are the three following areas: funeral directing, embalming, and restorative art.

  • The Funeral Directing Externship consists of two parts, activities and arrangements.  The activities portion requires students to attend and observe 5 different types of real funeral services/ceremonies outside of the classroom.  The arrangements portion involves students completing 5 arrangement conferences from first-call to contract – these may be completed in a mock setting on campus.
  • The Embalming Externship may be completed wholly on campus.  All students will actively participate in the arterial and cavity embalming of at least 10 human remains.  Competency in numerous embalming tasks will be assessed.
  • The Restorative Art Lab consists of 10 hours of clinical instruction regarding wax restoration, feature modeling, and mortuary cosmetology.  Students will use photographs to recreate an entire face; with a focus on facial proportions and the specific facial features.  This lab must be completed on campus.

Online degree students are required to travel to CIFS, at their expense, to complete all three requirements; other than the Funeral Directing Externship activities which follow the same format as that of the campus students (i.e., an assignment).  All three externships and labs are completed in one week (Monday-Friday).  In rare circumstances, a week may not suffice due to the availability of embalming cases.  However, CIFS has numerous sources for embalming cases and makes every effort to ensure that all requirements are completed within the allotted time.

During the Embalming II course (3rd quarter of specialized courses), online students sign up for their week on campus after being contacted by the Institute’s Clinical Coordinator.  The available weeks generally start around the beginning of the 4th quarter of specialized courses and run through the last week before final exams and exit exams.  The sign-up schedule is completed on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Online student groups are limited to a maximum of 5 students per week.  During a student’s week on campus, they will complete a minimum of 10 clinical embalming cases, the restorative art lab hours, and the funeral directing externship arrangements.  Each day starts at 9:00 AM and goes until the last embalming case for the day is completed.

NOTE: Online students are responsible for all costs associated with travel, transportation, lodging, food, etc.

For additional information on labs and externships, see the Embalming Lab and Confidentiality section in the Student Handbook.

Tuition & Fees

If the general study courses are taken at Commonwealth, tuition and fees will be $18,239 payable as follows: $50 non-refundable application fee due with application, $50 graduation fee due 30 days prior to graduation, and $18,139 tuition.

If general study courses are transferred to Commonwealth, tuition and fees will be $13,751 payable as follows: $50 non-refundable application fee due with application, $50 graduation fee due 30 days prior to graduation, and $13,651 tuition.  Cost of Tuition is calculated at $187.00 per quarter credit hour.

To earn the AAS degree, the student must fulfill all requirements for the General Education Core of 24 quarter/16 semester hours as outlined below, plus the Specialized and Related Courses.

General Education Courses

Course Course No. Description Clock Hrs Total Credit Hrs
BIOL 1408 Biology 1 66 6 qtr.
MATH 1314 College Algebra 44 4 qtr.
ENGL 1301 Composition and Rhetoric 55 5 qtr.
PSYC 2301 General Psychology 55 5 qtr.
HIST 1302 United States History II 44 4 qtr.
Total Hours: 264 24
*Completed prior to admission or taken at Commonwealth Institute

Specialized and Related Courses:

First Quarter
Course Course No. Description Clock Hrs Total Credit Hrs
MSCI 1201 Anatomy 1 33 3 qtr.
BUSI 2304 Business Communication 44 4 qtr.
MSCI 1212 Funeral Directing 33 3 qtr.
MSCI 1317 History of Funeral Service 44 4 qtr.
MSCI 1115 Occupational Safety & Ethics 22 2 qtr.
BUSI 1302 Operating a Business 44 4 qtr.
Total Hours 230 20
Second Quarter
Course Course No. Description Clock Hrs Total Credit Hrs
MSCI 1202 Anatomy 2 33 3 qtr.
BUSI 2301 Business Law 44 4 qtr.
MSCI 1203 Embalming 1 & Externship 33 3 qtr.
MSCI 1307 Microbiology 44 4 qtr.
MSCI 1314 Mortuary Administration 44 4 qtr.
MSCI 1118 Sociology of Funeral Service 22 2 qtr.
Total Hours 230 20
Third Quarter
Course Course No. Description Clock Hrs Total Credit Hrs
MSCI 1204 Embalming 2 & Externship 33 3 qtr.
MSCI 1306 Forensic Pathology 44 4 qtr.
MSCI 1313 Funeral Merchandising 44 4 qtr.
MSCI 1219 Mortuary Law 33 3 qtr.
MSCI 1208 Restorative Art 1 22 2 qtr.
Total Hours 230 20
Fourth Quarter
Course Course No. Description Clock Hrs Total Credit Hrs
MSCI 1316 Counseling/ Dynamics of Grief 44 4 qtr.
MSCI 1005 Embalming 3 22 2qtr.
OFAD 1307 Office Accounting 44 4 qtr.
MSCI 1109 Restorative Art 2 & Lab 33 2 qtr.
MSCI 1020 Board Review 11 1 qtr.
MSCI 1310 Thanatochemistry 44 4 qtr.
Total Hours 198 17
Grand Total 1108 97
The AAS Degree in Funeral Service Program at Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) 992 Mantua Pike, Suite 108, Woodbury Heights, NJ 08097 (816) 233-3747. Web: www.abfse.org.  Courses are classified into the following areas: Public Health and Technical,  Business Management and Professional, Social Sciences/Humanities, Legal, Ethical and Regulatory..

Coursework is also divided into the following areas:

  • Specialized Courses: Those courses approved as the “major” courses in the program which are focused in the areas of funeral directing and embalming. Specialized courses are identified by the prefix MSCI (mortuary science).
  • Related Courses: Those courses in the program that are required for career preparation, but are not in the general education block nor in the area of specialization. These include all courses in the certificate program that carry a prefix other than MSCI.
  • General Education Courses: Those courses traditionally offered during freshman and sophomore years at institutions of higher learning.
  • Course Enumeration: Each course is identified according to the course enumeration system developed by the Gulf Coast Consortium of Colleges. The four-letter prefix represents the department. The first digit indicates whether the course is generally taken during the freshman or sophomore year. The second digit refers to the value of each course in semester hours, the third and fourth refer to the sequence within the subject field.

Course Descriptions By Area

EMBALMING ARTS AND SCIENCES

This series intertwines the basic and public health sciences with embalming and restorative art, in order that the prospective embalmer can develop expert competencies in the preparation of human remains, while effectively protecting his/her own health and in the broadest sense, the health of the general public whom they represent.

PUBLIC HEALTH AND TECHNICAL

Anatomy 1- MSCI 1201
3 quarter hours
Prereq: none

In this course, the student will learn correct terminology and the basic organ systems of the body.  Topics include skeletal, digestive, excretory, respiratory, integumentary, endocrine, reproductive, and nervous, systems. (33/0/0/3)

Anatomy 2- MSCI 1202
3 quarter hours
Prereq: Anatomy I MSCI 1201 or equivalent

A continuation of the study of the systems of the body, the student will learn the muscular. lymph, and circulatory systems. (33/0/0/3)

Embalming 1 – MSCI 1203
3 quarters hour
Prereq: Occ. Safety MSCI 1115

The student will learn the history of embalming, early contributors to the field and their influence to the embalming procedures.  The student will learn the instruments, equipment, and chemicals used in the embalming process.  The student will learn how to perform case analysis and determine which procedure(s) will be used. The student is required to actively participate in the arterial and cavity embalming of ten (10) human remains minimum.  Cases must be completed under the direct supervision of Commonwealth Institute’s clinical supervisor.  Cases are available at Commonwealth Institute’s preparation room or at off-campus embalming location(s).  Students must provide their own transportation to off-campus site(s). (33/0/10/3)

Embalming 2 and Externship- MSCI 1204
3 quarter hours
Prereq: Embalming 1 MSCI 1203

The student will learn linear and anatomical guides and anatomical limits and how they will apply them to the embalming process.  They will learn methods of creating injection pressure and how to calculate solution strengths.  They will learn the various chemicals and their properties used in the embalming process.  The student will learn how to perform cavity embalming and the importance of this procedure.  The student is required to actively participate in the arterial and cavity embalming of ten (10) human remains minimum.  Cases must be completed under the direct supervision of Commonwealth Institute’s clinical embalming instructors or Commonwealth’s clinical supervisor.  Cases are available at Commonwealth Institute’s preparation room or at off-campus embalming location(s).  Students must provide their own transportation to off-campus site(s). (33/0/10/3)

Embalming 3 and Externship MSCI 1005
2 quarter hours
Prereq: Embalming 2 MSCI 1204

The student will learn the embalming treatment and the handling of special cases.

Forensic Pathology- MSCI 1306
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

Student will learn general disease processes including terminology related to disease; causes of disease, cellular reaction to injury; structural abnormalities, inflammation and repair; neoplasms and cysts; various diseases of the blood, heart, blood vessels, digestive system, respiratory tract, urinary and reproductive systems, nervous system, bones and joints, and endocrine glands. (44/0/0/4)

Microbiology- MSCI 1307
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

Students will learn aspects of microbiology related to the causative agents of disease, methods of transmission, and techniques for disinfection and sterilization including, but not limited to, beneficial microorganisms, pathogens, host-parasite interactions, natural and acquired immunity, bacterial morphology, and physiology. (44/0/0/4)

Restorative Art 1- MSCI 1208
2 quarter hours
Prereq: none

An orientation and introduction to restorative art.  The student will learn terminology, terms of anatomical direction, bones and muscles of the cranium, facial proportions, facial profiles, geometric head shapes and detailed study of the parts of the features.  Also included are the classifications and descriptions of facial markings.(22/0/0/2)

Restorative Art 2 and Lab- MSCI 1109
2 quarter hours
Prereq: Restorative Art 1 MSCI 1208

A continuation of Restorative Art. 1, the student will learn color theory, cosmetic applications, wax treatments, suturing, non wax treatments, hair restoration, hypodermic tissue building, and death masks.  The laboratory is designed to supplement the theoretical information provided in the lecture class.  Students model facial features from clay and affix to a plastic skull, and practice mixing and applying cosmetics to a facial mask. (22/11/0/2)

Thanatochemistry- MSCI 1310
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

Students will learn the fundamental concepts of chemistry, atomic structure, the periodic table, valence, and chemical equations.  They study types of solutions, are introduced to organic chemistry and biochemistry and will learn how chemistry is used in the embalming process. (44/0/0/4)

MANAGEMENT SCIENCES

This series of courses is designed to develop the prospective funeral director into an effective management person, capable of making intelligent and ethical business decisions based upon the application of good business principles.

 

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT AND PROFESSIONAL

Funeral Directing- MSCI 1212
3 quarter hours
Prereq: none

A course in directing the various types of funeral services.  The student will learn funeral service professional ethics and the role of the funeral director in conducting various religious, fraternal, military, traditional, non traditional, and humanistic funeral ceremonies including cultural, ethnic, and geographic customs.(33/0/0/3)

Funeral Merchandising- MSCI 1313
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

A course in funeral home management and practice that reviews the aims and objectives of the funeral home practitioner.  The student will learn the component parts and the construction of caskets and outer burial containers and how to professionally arrange the selection room and the methodology for pricing funeral service merchandise.  Various experts from the funeral service profession provide special presentations and/or field trips that will incorporate the theoretical with practical aspects of funeral service merchandising. (44/0/0/4)

Mortuary Administration- MCSI 1314
4 quarter hours.

A course in funeral home management and practice.  The student will learn contemporary code of ethics for funeral service, various facets of funeral service practice including: the steps from first call to final disposition, funeral records and forms, Social Security and Veteran benefits, professional relationships, establishing and maintaining funeral home facilities and equipment, and supervision and training personnel.  The student will also learn the techniques in conducting the funeral arrangement through role-play exercises. (44/0/0/4)

Occupational Safety & Ethics – MSCI 1115
2 quarter hours
Prereq: none

The student will learn workplace safety guidelines as related to funeral service personnel.  This will include: Occupational Safety & Ethics and Health Administration guidelines for Hazard Communication Standard, Formaldehyde Monitoring, Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, Infection Control and Preparation Room Requirements. (22/0/0/2)

Office Accounting- OFAD 1307
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

This course is designed to develop an understanding of an accounting system.  The student will learn how to analyze business transactions and how they relate to the accounting cycle, primarily a small service and merchandising business.  The student will learn journalizing, posting, preparing a trial balance, completing financial reports and computing payroll and payroll taxes, and use of the computer as a business tool. (44/0/0/4)

Operating a Business- BUSI 1302
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

The student will learn the practical considerations involved in starting and operating a business.  Topics include analyzing potential market, acquiring financial backing, establishing record-keeping systems, making marketing and pricing decisions, managing financial and human resources, purchasing, controlling inventory, sales forecasting, meeting legal requirements, and using professional resources. (44/0/0/4)

Business Communications- BUSI 2304
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

The student will learn the principles of effective written and oral business communications.  Activities include writing business messages for a variety of business situations, writing both formal and informal business reports and presenting business data orally. (44/0/0/4)

 

SOCIAL SCIENCES/HUMANITIES

This series of courses is designed to: (1) develop an appreciation of funeral practices in terms of their origin and development, as well as their present and future place in society; (2) develop an understanding and sensitivity of the needs of the bereaved at the time of death; and (3) to develop the proficiency to meet those needs in a professional and meaningful manner.

 

SOCIAL SCIENCE

Counseling/Dynamics of Grief- MSCI 1316
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

The student will learn how grief affects the deceased family and the role of the funeral in grief resolution.  Grief reactions, grief cycles, and the various stages of grief will be explored.  The student will learn an understanding of the basic methods and procedures of grief counseling and the many elements that a funeral director brings into the counseling session.  The student learns to recognize and understands his/her own personal resources for coping with loss situations. (44/5/0/4)

History of Funeral Service- MSCI 1317
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

This course traces the development of funeral service from the ancient Egyptians to modern times.  The students will learn the historical roots of modern practices. (44/0/0/4)


Sociology of Funeral Service- MSCI 1118
2 quarter hours.
Prereq: none

A general survey of sociology, the orientation, definition, application and purpose of culture, mores, folkways, and the study of the family unit.  The students will learn how each of these impact death rituals. (22/0/0/2)

 

LEGAL ETHICAL AND REGULATORY

Business Law – BUSI 2301
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

A course in the principles of law which form the legal framework for business activities.  The student will learn the legal framework for business activities that includes applicable statutes, torts, contracts, personal and real property, wills and trusts, and consumer law. (44/0/0/4)

Mortuary Law – MSCI 1219
3 quarter hours

This course will provide the legal fundamentals that apply to funeral service.  The students will learn the corporative state laws, rules, and regulations that pertain to funeral service; laws regarding the rights and duties and responsibilities of funeral service professional; and licensure requirements for funeral directors, embalmers and funeral establishments. (33/0/0/3)

Board Review- MSCI 1020
1 quarter hour
Prereq: none

This course is customized to acclimate each student to the expectations of licensure examinations.  Including both current rules and regulations of the state(s) in which they intend to seek licensure and subject matter found on the National Board Examination (or comparable examination).  As applicable, this course will help prepare the student for academic success on state law exams(s) required of individuals seeking licensure in the various parts of the country and on the National Board Examination. (11/0/0/1)

 

GENERAL EDUCATION CORE

Biology 1 – BIOL 1408
6 quarter hours
Prereq: none

A contemporary course in which the student will learn the applications of the scientific method, cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, classical and human genetics, and virology. (66/0/0/6)

College Algebra – MATH 1314
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

Topics include quadratics, polynomial and exponential functions, graphing, linear equations & inequalities, factoring techniques and algebraic fractions. (44/0/0/4)

Composition and Rhetoric 1- ENGL 1301
5 quarter hours.
Prereq: none

This course provides students with the rhetorical foundations that prepares them for the demands of professional writing.  The student will learn how to recognize and deploy the strategies and processes that translate into effective written products in a variety of contexts for a variety of purposes. (55/0/0/5)

 

General Psychology – PSYC 2301
5 quarter hours
Prereq: none

The student will learn the elementary principles of human behavior. (55/0/0/5)

United States History II – HIST 1302
4 quarter hours
Prereq: none

A survey of U.S. history from the end of Reconstruction to the present.  The student will learn how the United States emerged as a world power and the subsequent assumption of international responsibilities. (44/0/0/4)

Main Campus

Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service
415 Barren Springs Drive
Houston, Texas 77090
Office Telephone: (281) 873-0262
Toll Free: (800) 628-1580
Fax: (281) 873-5232
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