Academic Programs

The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Funeral Service – Online

Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service > The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Funeral Service – Online


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. Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service (CIFS) and the Funeral Service associate degree program offered by CIFS are accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), 992 Mantua Pike, Suite 108, Woodbury Heights, NJ 08097 (816) 233-3747. Web:

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, prepare necessary funeral home paperwork, perform funerary 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.

As a part of this academic program, students will also become certified crematory operators through the Cremation Association of North America (CANA). This training is provided online and is embedded in the Cremation and Modern Funeral Service course.

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.


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 of a webcam, microphone, and high-speed/reliable internet.  However, CIFS reserves the right to require that exams be administered in a physical, proctored setting.

Externships & Labs - Online

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.

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 on the next page.

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.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition will be determined according to the modality of enrollment (Online or On-campus).   Tuition payments are due by the first day of the quarter for on-campus students. Tuition for online students is due two weeks prior to the start of the quarter to ensure timely delivery of books. Tuition and Fees are subject to change without prior notification.


Online Classes

The online tuition rate is $195 per quarter credit hour.



If the general education courses are taken at CIFS, then the total tuition and fees will be $19,015; payable as follows: $50 application fee due with application, $50 graduation fee due 30 days prior to graduation, and $18,915 tuition (97 quarter credit hours multiplied by $195).

If all general education courses are transferred to CIFS, then the total tuition and fees will be $14,335; payable as follows: $50 application fee due with application, $50 graduation fee due 30 days prior to graduation, and $14,235 tuition (73 quarter credit hours multiplied by $195).

Graduation Requirements For The A.A.S. Program

  • Completion of all general education and specialized courses either by transfer or through enrollment for a total of 97 quarter credit hours.  A minimum of 30 quarter credit hours are required to be completed at CIFS (Residency Requirement);
  • Pass each specialized course with a minimum final letter grade of “C”;
  • Achieve a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in all coursework completed at CIFS;
  • Pass each section (Arts and Sciences) of the CIFS Certification Exam;
  • Discharge of all financial obligations to Commonwealth Institute 30 days prior to commencement;
  • For those receiving federal student loans, complete financial aid exit counseling; and
  • Complete all three clinical requirements: embalming, restorative art, and funeral directing.

Request Information

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