Mortuary Science Program Details

DMACC Mortuary Science Program 

Funeral Home-based (Online) Program

  • The program utilizes a combination of online courses, courses with professional activities in the funeral home, and courses which meet for short periods of time on campus to meet student needs for program completion.

Program Cost is Approximately $12,000

  • If a student has completed the general education requirements for the program, the entire program can be completed for a cost of approximately $12,000.
  • If a student needs to complete the general education requirement for the program/licensure, the program would be approximately $12,000 plus the cost of the general education courses, which can be taken through DMACC or another institution.

Practical Professional Experiences

  • Each student will participate in embalming, professional funeral directing activities, and transfer of remains arranged through a funeral home. 
  • In addition to the practical experience gained through the embalming clinicals, each student will complete a Practicum, similar to an internship under the direct supervision of a licensed funeral director. During this time, the student will participate in embalming and funeral directing experiences, which will include all aspects of the profession.

Mortuary Science Program Details

The Mortuary Science program is sequenced to begin in Fall semester. However, students unable to begin in Fall may apply for a Spring semester start on a space available basis. After applying for admission for Fall and completing items #1-3 on the Program Entry Checklist, students may express an interest in starting in Spring with the Program Chair during the Program Conference (item #4 on the checklist). If approved, the Program Chair will notify the Admissions Office to change the start date from Fall to Spring.

In order to be admitted to the program for the Fall semester, items #1 through #5 on the Program Entry Checklist need to be completed by August 1st.

In order to be admitted to the program for Spring semester, items #1 through #5 on the Program Entry Checklist need to be completed by December 1st.

If a student submits the Program Entry Checklist items after the dates listed above, we may not be able to get the student admitted for the requested semester.

Program Entry Checklist

  1. Complete a DMACC Application. Go to the online application.
    Note - If you need to complete college-level credits or an associate degree prior to admission to Mortuary Science, apply for the Liberal Arts AA degree with an area of interest in Mortuary Science.

  2. Submit college transcript(s) of all completed college work and/or your high school transcript.

    Colleges and universities need to send the transcript directly to the DMACC Admissions Office electronically to; or by mail to 2006 S Ankeny Blvd, Ankeny IA 50023.

    For more information, see the DMACC Transfer Credit page.

    For the Funeral Services AAS option, the Credentials office will verify that you have already obtained:
    • a high school diploma; or a minimum of 9 college-level credits with a 2.0 grade point average to begin the Funeral Services AAS program. The Credentials office will verify any credits you have already obtained and apply them toward the AAS degree.​

    For the Mortuary Science Advanced Standing Diploma option, he Credentials office will verify that you have already obtained:
    • A minimum of 15 credits earned in general education, that includes one communications course, one mathematics or science course, and one social/behavioral science or humanities course; and Evidence of the awarding of a minimum of an associate degree from a regionally accredited institution, or a minimum of 64 credits from a regionally accredited institution with a grade point average of 2.0.
    • Because BIO 733 or BIO 164 is required within the program, it will not be counted toward the general education courses required for admission.
  1. Submit the Career Exploration form
    The recommendation must be on the form linked below and must be completed and signed by a licensed funeral director.
    Career Exploration form

  2. Once items #1-#3 are completed, contact the Program at to confirm everything is completed and to schedule a Mortuary Science Program Conference. The Program Conference will include a discussion of the state in which you plan to become licensed as well as your proposed schedule of courses leading to graduation.
  3. At the time of the Program Conference, the Program Chair will send you a link to required forms needing to be completed and returned to the Program office prior to registration.
  4. Complete the DMACC Orientation / Registration requirements.

Transfer Credit

The DMACC Mortuary Science Program does not accept transfer credits from other institutions for Mortuary Science courses other than MOR 215 - Funeral Law I, MOR 331 – Funeral Home Management, and MOR 366 – Funeral Pathology

General Education Requirements

For students in the Funeral Services AAS, you will complete 18 credits of general education which are included in the course requirements below.

For students in the Mortuary Science Advanced Standing Diploma, you will complete an associate degree or equivalent, with at least 15 credits in general education in addition to the course(s) below.

The DMACC Mortuary Science Program has two options for students:

The degree/diploma options both satisfy the American Board of Funeral Service Education accreditation requirements for taking the National Board Examination by the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards. The difference is which option is best for the state in which you desire to become a licensed funeral director.

Mortuary Science - Advanced Standing

The Mortuary Science – Advanced Standing Diploma requires a minimum of 64 college-level credits or an associate degree prior to admission in addition to 46 credits of Mortuary Science specific courses.

This option is most appropriate for students seeking to become a licensed funeral director/embalmer in states requiring 60 credits in addition to the Mortuary Science program.

The Mortuary Science Advanced Standing Diploma is designed for students who wish to become licensed in Iowa.

Students who need to complete college-level credits or an associate degree prior to admission are encouraged to apply for admission to the Liberal Arts AA degree with an area of interest in Mortuary Science. View the Liberal Arts AA program details.

Funeral Services AAS

The Funeral Service AAS requires 18 credits general education plus 46 credits of Mortuary Science specific courses.

This option is most appropriate for students seeking to become a licensed funeral director/embalmer in states requiring an associate degree or less.

Recommended Degree/Diploma Options

Licensure Requirements

To see a complete list of the state licensing agencies, please visit the National Funeral Directors Association website.

To see a complete list of the licensure requirements of the states, please visit the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards website.

The central objective of the DMACC Mortuary Science Program is to educate students in every phase of funeral service and thus prepare the graduates for entry-level employment in funeral service.

In support of this objective, the Mortuary Science Program has adopted the following competencies (learning outcomes):

  • Explain the importance of funeral service professionals in developing relationships with the families and communities they serve.
  • Identify standards of ethical conduct in funeral service practice.
  • Interpret how federal, state, and local laws apply to funeral service in order to ensure compliance.
  • Apply principles of public health and safety in the handling and preparation of human remains.
  • Demonstrate technical skills in embalming and restorative art that are necessary for the preparation and handling of human remains.
  • Demonstrate skills required for conducting arrangement conferences, visitations, services, and ceremonies.
  • Describe the requirements and procedures for burial, cremation, and other accepted forms of final disposition of human remains.
  • Describe methods to address the grief-related needs of the bereaved.
  • Explain management skills associated with operating a funeral establishment.
  • Demonstrate verbal and written communication skills and research skills needed for funeral service practice.

The DMACC Mortuary Science Program is designed as an online option and works best for students who are working in a funeral home. Students in the program are required to have a funeral home with which they are affiliated. If you are not employed at a funeral home, it is the responsibility of the student to locate a funeral home at which to complete the requirements. As part of the affiliation, the student will be able to gain practical experiences as required in the program. If the student does not have an affiliation with a funeral home, they will be required to come to campus for the Professional Activities described under the next heading.

Students will complete the program with the following provisions:

  1. Take online courses. Each student must have a computer with reliable internet access.

  2. Have access to a webcam to allow for two-way interaction during a portion(s) of the curriculum.

  3. Students will have opportunities to meet with faculty members and in some courses may be required to meet with faculty members.

    In most of the lecture courses, the faculty will conduct OPTIONAL streaming lectures or online office hours during the afternoon or evening for the courses.
  1. Students are required to interact with other students and the faculty during the courses.
  1. Students are expected to check their DMACC email regularly.
  1. Complete on-campus residency requirements.

Each student is required to attend the following times in person on the DMACC Campus in Ankeny, Iowa:

    • MOR 334 - Funeral Home Operations II - generally 4 or 5 days
      During these days, students will complete mock funerals and simulate religious funerals and visitations.
    • MOR 940 - Funeral Service Capstone - generally 4 or 5 days
      During these days, students will complete the embalming and restorative art requirements for the program.
  1. There are generally two learning resources for each course - textbooks and course materials.


    • Textbooks are paid for in addition to the course tuition and fees and are purchased from the DMACC Bookstore or from another provider.
    • List of Textbooks used in courses.

Course Material:

    • Course materials are items provided at no additional cost to the students and may include additional readings, booklets with print copies of the online lessons, and Personal Protective Equipment (the cost of which is added into the course fees). These are provided to students who complete the course materials form at the beginning of each semester.
    • The course materials booklets are provided/sent by the faculty free of charge at the beginning of each term;
    • You must submit the Course Materials form to receive these booklets; the link to the form will be emailed to you prior to each term.
  1. Students are required to complete their quizzes and exams within the dates and times specified in each course schedule at an approved testing center or with Honorlock. This document contains more information about the testing options.

Additional Online Information

DMACC Mortuary Science Distance Learning Policy

The Mortuary Science program of Des Moines Area Community College seeks to ensure academic integrity in all courses whether delivered on-campus, online, or in a blended approach. To ensure the academic integrity online, all students taking online courses will be required to:

  • participate in an on-campus requirement using the tentative schedule above;
  • communicate with the college faculty utilizing the email with the learning management system and/or the email system (both systems are password protected to ensure the privacy of students); and
  • take examinations at a proctored location (for those courses which require examinations).

The proctored exams must be taken in a proctored setting, either at the student's home through an online proctoring service utilized by the program or at an approved Testing Center.

The records of distance learning students are protected in the same manner as that of the college records of students taking courses on-campus, with the following addition. The learning management system utilized for online and web-blended courses is password protected and allows only those students enrolled to gain access to the online / web-blended course material. In addition, the courses are then capable of being saved at the end of each semester, with a copy of the backup file saved on a server where the only access is by the full-time faculty members in the Mortuary Science program.

Des Moines Area Community College has a fee structure for online and web-blended courses which is slightly higher than the fees for traditional courses, and is $30 per credit for online courses. To see the exact fee for each course, please visit the DMACC college catalog or the DMACC website. The total fee differential is approximated in the Mortuary Science Program Information which is available on the website. In addition, if students utilize an exam proctor other than DMACC and the proctor charges a fee for the proctor services, the student is responsible for bearing the cost of those proctor fees.

Information regarding course names and identification numbers, summary descriptions, and credit hours can be found in the catalog pages located on the Program Pathway page.

Information regarding admissions, registration, processes for withdrawal, processes for graduation, academic calendars, financial policies, the bookstore webpage, academic advising, tutoring or other help with academic difficulties, Veterans’ Affairs, and Disabilities services are provided by linking from the college homepage.

A vital part of any Mortuary Science program is the professional activities in which the students will participate. These experiential learning opportunities are often located in funeral homes and must be accomplished in the presence of a licensed funeral director. For students who do not have an affiliation with a licensed funeral home/funeral director, these activities must be completed on campus.

The professional activities include:

  • Embalming cases;
  • Cosmetic applications;
  • Funerals;
  • Setting up visitations;
  • Transfers of remains;
  • Cremation processes;
  • Preparation of funeral service paperwork;
  • Complete a register book;
  • Complete an announcement of death and/or obituary; and
  • Arrangement conferences.

The Mortuary Science Program requires these professional activities to be completed at the funeral home with which the student has an affiliation agreement or on campus. For the following courses, you will be required to document at least a set number of hours in the funeral home. Courses and hours required are:

  • MOR 324 - Funeral Home Operations I - 30 hours
  • MOR 334 - Funeral Home Operations II - 30 hours
  • MOR 336 - Embalming I Clinical – 45 hours
  • MOR 341 - Embalming II Clinical – 30 hours
  • MOR 941 – Practicum – 240 hours

Note: Even if you complete the activities from the first four courses on campus, you will need to have a funeral home and preceptor for the final course: MOR 941 - Practicum.

A. Campus-based experiences
Students without a funeral home affiliation must come to campus and a local funeral home(s) at a designated time during the semester to complete the above-listed activities under the direct supervision of the course instructor.

B. Funeral home-based experiences
A DMACC Mortuary Science student will participate in the above-listed professional activities at their affiliate funeral home, provided they are accomplished in the physical presence of a DMACC-approved, licensed funeral director/embalmer and the activities are not prohibited by the state regulatory agency.

1. Identify a funeral home which will allow you to work with or job shadow a funeral director. This ideally would be the funeral home with which you work. Otherwise, you can utilize a funeral home close to your location.

Most students will utilize the funeral home at which they are employed. If you aren't employed, you should find a funeral home in your location by using the yellow pages or an online search engine. In addition, you could use the search feature on the many state Funeral Directors Association websites. For Iowa it is found on the Iowa Funeral Directors Association website. This website only provides members of the state association, so you could use yellow pages online and get good results, too.

After you identify a funeral home, call to schedule an appointment to discuss your interest in the funeral service profession and becoming a funeral director. (You probably did some of this when you completed the Career Exploration Form for admission to the program.) During your meeting, indicate that you have applied for admission to the DMACC Mortuary Science program and take the list of the Professional Activities with you. You will need to complete these experiences as part of the Mortuary Science course requirements and the funeral home/funeral director must be willing to provide them to you while you are a student in the program. Be sure to read over the list before your meeting. Many funeral directors in Iowa have worked with DMACC students before and are familiar with our program.

Funeral service is a conservative profession so dress and present yourself in a professional manner. In other words, prepare as if you were going to a job interview. You may want to have a resume' prepared to give to the funeral director during your meeting so they could contact you in the future, especially if they have an opening for a part-time employee. They are busy professionals and a resume' may help them remember you and demonstrate that you are serious about the profession.

2. Identify a funeral director to serve as preceptor. During the orientation process, the student initiates the electronic Affiliation Agreement and once completed, it will be forwarded to the funeral director for his/her electronic signature.

3. By accreditation standards, we are required to visit or conduct a video tour of each location where students may be completing activities. To accomplish this verification process, the student will be required to complete a form (which will be sent at the time of admission) and create a video tour of the funeral home to be submitted to the program prior to the completing any activities in that funeral home.

Each student will determine which of the following Program Sequence options they will use to complete the program.

The program is sequenced to begin each Fall semester. Students unable to begin in the Fall semester, may be able to start in the Spring semester on a space available basis.

Fall Start

Funeral Services AAS

Mortuary Science Advanced Standing Diploma

Spring Start

Funeral Services AAS

Mortuary Science Advanced Standing Diploma

Mortuary Science – Advanced Standing Diploma

Approximate total for program: $12,403*

* Program entry requirements are not included in the total approximate cost.

* This cost is the same for student in the Funeral Services AAS program who have completed all General Education courses.

Funeral Services AAS

Approximate total for the program: $17,407*

* Program general education courses are included in the total approximate cost.

** If all general education courses are completed, the approximate total cost will be the same as the Mortuary Science Total Cost - $12,403.

DMACC Tuition and fees

DMACC Tuition Page

Mortuary Science Program Fees

This is a breakdown of the fees charged within the Mortuary Science Program.

These fees are in addition to the DMACC tuition and fees.

They are already included in the estimated costs on the Mortuary Science program details.

All fees are re-evaluated each year by adding up the expenses from the prior two years and dividing by the number of students who were served.

MOR 301 - Introduction to Funeral Service

$200 – Online Proctoring Service Fee

This fee is used to offset any online proctoring service fees for the program. It is charged to every student as part of the program costs. This fee is not utilized to cover the cost if a student chooses to use a testing center instead of the online proctoring services. The fee will be charged no matter in what location you take your proctored quizzes and exams.

MOR 334 - Funeral Home Operations II

$95 – Arranger Training Fee

During this course, students will participate in an Arranger Training Session offered by the National Funeral Directors Association. The fee will be paid to the NFDA on your behalf as a Cash Advance with no additional charge by DMACC. The fee covers the cost of the materials, guest instructor, and expenses for the training.

MOR 336 - Embalming I Clinical

$300 - Clinical Supplies, mailing and faculty travel

This fee covers the cost of the following items which are provided to each student to ensure you are safe during embalming experiences: gloves, face shields, gowns, shoe covers, head covers, face masks, and travel expense to pay for faculty to travel to funeral homes in the Des Moines area.

MOR 940 - Funeral Service Capstone

$100 - Lab supplies

This fee includes the cost of purchasing or replacing lab supplies (wax and instruments)

MOR 390 - Professional Review

$120 - Practice National Board Exam Fee

This fee is to purchase vouchers for each student to take the Practice National Board Exam which is created and administered by the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards


  • The costs below are based on the 2023-2024 school year costs. All costs are estimates and subject to change.
  • All costs are based upon in state tuition rates.
  • Online courses charge the same rate for both in-state and out-of-state, so the Iowa cost would be the same for non-Iowa residents if they are only taking the online courses.
  • If an out of state student takes campus courses, the cost would be nearly double for tuition.

We provide the following Trainings:

Iowa Preceptor Training

For current Iowa licensees who are working with DMACC students or Iowa funeral director interns

All continuing education is offered through the DMACC Continuing Education Department and will follow this registration link for more information.

Iowa Law Continuing Education for License Renewal

For current Iowa licensees who must complete a continuing education course in Iowa laws and rules. This will NOT meet the requirement for initial licensure; instead for initial licensure, the application should see the next training option.

All continuing education is offered through the DMACC Continuing Education Department and will follow this registration link for more information.

Iowa Law Credit Course for Initial Licensure

For individuals who do not yet possess an Iowa license and wish to take the credit course to become licensed in Iowa

To become licensed as a funeral director in Iowa, an applicant must pass a one-credit course in Iowa Law in addition to, or as part of, an accredited Mortuary Science Program. DMACC's Mortuary Science Program offers this course nine times per year, and students can enroll in one of these sections prior to the beginning of the section. The steps to complete this course are:

  1. Apply for admission to DMACC. On your application, apply as a guest student for the Liberal Arts AA program. It is important to apply for admission in this manner, or the processing of your application may be incorrect or delayed. If you are a current DMACC student or graduate, you may not need to complete this step, so please go to step #2.

    For assistance with this process, please contact the Admissions office at 515-965-7337

    Students will be notified when the admission application has been processed. Immediately after this notification, separate notifications will provide DMACC ID#, email address, username, and password. Notifications are sent on a daily basis by mail and email.

  2. Once you have been accepted, please contact Kevin Patterson at and ask to be registered for the next available MOR 370 - Iowa Funeral Law course.  Kevin will initiate a form that will then come to your DMACC Email for you to complete and once you have completed it, it will be processed for your registration. 

  3. You will need to contact the Business Office approximately 7-10 days after you complete the form to pay for the course.

Information about the course:

  • To remain in the course, the student must log into the course by the date listed on the syllabus.
  • The course consists of five lessons and a final exam.
  • Once the course begins, you can progress as quickly as you wish.
  • When you finish the fourth lesson, submit the Proctor request form found on the course homepage to the instructor.
  • The instructor will then forward the exam password to your requested proctor.
  • Once the course is completed, the Program will inform the Board of Mortuary Science that you have passed the course.

National Board Examination pass rates, graduation rates, and employment rates for this and other ABFSE-accredited programs are available at the American Board of Funeral Services Education in the Directory of Accredited Programs. To request a printed copy of this program's scores and rates, you may print from the links above, or you may contact the program at the Mortuary Science office (Ankeny campus, Building 17, Room 10A), by email at, or by telephone at 515-965-7171.

Arts Takers DMACC Pass Rate National Pass Rate
2023 65 94% 78%
2022  64 88% 69%
2021 55 95% 68%
Sciences Takers DMACC Pass Rate National Pass Rate
2023  65 86% 69%
2022  65 83% 64%
2021 55 82% 57%
Year Total Enrolled # of New Students # of Grads Graduation Rate Employed in FS
2023 253 118 66 93% 98%
2022 206 90 68 77% 93%
2021 213 112 53 81% 94%


Additional Resources