Externships & Labs


All A.A.S. degree students, campus and online, must complete the curricular labs and externships as a requirement for graduation.  These translate 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 live 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 embalming of at least 10 human remains.  Competency in numerous embalming tasks will be assessed.
  • The Restorative Art Lab consists 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.

Campus AAS: 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 during the 1st quarter of specialized courses.  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.

Online AAS: Online degree students may choose between two distinct paths to complete their lab and externship requirements.  One path is intended to allow those students currently working in funeral service to complete a portion of their requirements at their place of employment (provided certain criteria are met), and the other path is designed for those who need to complete all requirements on campus.  During the Embalming II course (3rd quarter of specialized courses), students will officially select their path and sign up for their scheduled time on campus – 2 to 5 days depending on path.  The available dates/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 two path options are outlined below.

Path A – For those who DO NOT work in funeral service or cannot complete the requirements at their place of employment.

  • You will come to the CIFS campus for all 3 lab/externship requirements.
  • You will be on campus for a full week (Monday – Friday).
  • Weekly groups in this path option will be limited to 5 students.
  • More information is sent with the signup calendar (dress code, times, etc.). 

Path B – For those who DO work in funeral service and can complete some designated requirements at their place of employment.

  • You will complete your funeral directing requirements at your funeral home – 5 first calls & 5 arrangement conferences (real OR simulated).
  • You will complete AT LEAST 9 embalming cases at your funeral home (more is acceptable but 9 are required).
  • The labs/externships (FD and Embalming) done at your funeral home must be completed under the supervision of a designated preceptor.
  • PRIOR to starting any offsite labs, you will need to schedule and complete a physical or virtual site inspection and virtual/telephonic preceptor training (all in one session).
  • Your place of employment must complete the CIFS affiliation agreement.
  • You will also come to the CIFS campus to complete 1 embalming case and the restorative art lab hours.
  • You will be on campus for 2 days (versus an entire week).
  • Each group in this path option will be limited to 10 students.
  • More information (required documentation, preceptor requirements, etc.) will be discussed when scheduling your inspection.

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

For additional information on labs and externships, see Section 5 in the Student Handbook.

Our Student Handbook

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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
Email: [email protected]

Campus Hours

Mon-Fri 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Lecture Classes
Mon-Thu 8:00 AM – 8:50 AM
Mon-Thu 9:00 AM – 9:50 AM
Mon-Thu 10:00 AM – 10:50 AM
Mon-Thu 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM
Mon-Thu 12:00 PM – 12:50 PM

Embalming Labs
Mon-Thu 1:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Fri – 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

The dates and times of laboratory sessions are scheduled at the beginning of each quarter.

2024-2025 CATALOG

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