Mortuary Science

Mortuary Science Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Biology On-campus

About Mortuary Science

Enhance your career qualifications with an undergraduate foundation in biology.

The mortuary science program is a cooperative curriculum program between California University of Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS), located in downtown Pittsburgh.

The program requires three years of study at Cal U in which you receive a liberal science background in biology, focusing on zoology, botany, cell and molecular biology, microbiology, human anatomy, and human physiology.

Our cooperative program provides you with outstanding training in mortuary science.

The final year of the cooperative program is spent at PIMS, where you learn how to be a funeral home director and an embalmer. Upon completion of the one year at PIMS (which, unlike Cal U, is based on a trimester system running from August to August), you'll receive an Associate in Specialized Business degree from PIMS. Your credits taken at PIMS transfer back to Cal U, and upon graduation you'll also earn a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree with a concentration in mortuary science from Cal U.

 Students completing the Cal U and PIMS program must then do a one-year apprenticeship with a licensed funeral home director before being eligible to sit for the Pennsylvania state licensing exam - the test required to become a licensed funeral home director and embalmer. 

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS: Mortuary Science

Career edge: Although a bachelor's degree is not required to become a funeral home director in Pennsylvania, your Cal U degree in biology with a concentration in mortuary science gives you a distinct advantage. You'll stand out from other graduates when looking to apprentice and train with a licensed funeral home director. Your qualifications also will set you apart when you start looking for a position at an established funeral home. In addition, your Cal U degree provides a strong foundation should you desire to pursue a career as a coroner.

Solid foundation: Mortuary science majors find Cal U courses in human anatomy and microbiology most interesting because these areas are closely related to their career path. Cal U also provides students with business and world religion courses that support their future work in the profession.  Students learn how to prepare the deceased when they attend PIMS. 

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19:1 
Student-to-faculty ratio at Cal U.
120 
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in chemistry, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
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Degree Benefits

The mortuary science concentration in the biology degree program at Cal U prepares students to enter the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS). Students complete six semesters of coursework at Cal U and then complete their senior year studying embalming methods and funeral direction at PIMS. The mortuary science concentration, through Cal U's affiliation with PIMS, is accredited through the American Board of Funeral Service Education, National Association of Colleges of Mortuary Science and National Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards of the United States Inc.

 
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Graduate Outcomes

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of funeral service workers is projected to grow 5% through 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Those who are licensed as funeral directors and embalmers and who are willing to relocate should have the best job opportunities. With the exception of funeral service managers, all workers must be licensed in Washington, D.C., and in every state in which they work, except Colorado, which offers a voluntary certification program. 

 
Biology (B.S.) Mortuary Science Concentration
Cal U students in a biology lab observe a specimen on a Petri dish.

Cal U's Focus

All Cal U students who apply to Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS) are accepted by and graduate from the PIMS program. It is important to know that someone can become a licensed funeral home director in Pennsylvania without having a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree. The state requires 60 credit hours of liberal studies at a college or university along with an approved one-year curriculum in mortuary science. Other colleges in the western Pennsylvania area have pre-mortuary science cooperative programs with PIMS, but they focus on such areas as business, sociology or liberal studies. Cal U is the only cooperative program with PIMS that enables students to receive a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in mortuary science.

A Cal U student looks into a microscope.

About PIMS

In general, PIMS has a 59% acceptance rate and a 79% graduation rate. The rigor of your Cal U courses in biology is much higher than those at PIMS, so you will be well-prepared for your PIMS program of study. PIMS reports that 96% of its graduates work in the funeral science field; 70% pass the National Board Examinations administered by the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards.

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Focus On Biology

A steady demand exists for biologists. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of biological technicians is projected to grow 5% through 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Continued growth in biotechnology and medical research is expected to increase demand for these workers. A Bachelor of Science degree in biology from California University of Pennsylvania gives you a distinct competitive advantage over other graduates. You'll be prepared for advanced studies in biology and related fields, and for industrial and government research, as well as for careers in public health and in the many health-related fields.

 

B.S. Biology Courses - Mortuary Science

Example Courses
  • General Zoology
  • General Chemistry
  • General Botany
  • Introduction To Cellular And Molecular Biology
  • General Microbiology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology

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B.S., Biology - Concentration and Minors

Minors
  • Biology - Minor

Concentrations

Biology Faculty

Dr. David G. Argent
Professor

argent@calu.edu

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Dr. Summer Arrigo-Nelson
Associate Professor

arrigonelson@calu.edu

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Dr. Carol Bocetti
Professor

Bocetti@calu.edu

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Dr. David Boehm
Professor

boehm@calu.edu

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Dr. Paula Caffrey
Assistant Professor

caffrey@calu.edu

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Dr. Chadwick Hanna
Associate Professor

hanna@calu.edu

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Dr. Sarah Meiss
Associate Professor

meiss@calu.edu

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Dr. Louise Nicholson
Associate Professor

nicholson@calu.edu

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Dr. Brian Paulson
Professor

paulson@calu.edu

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Dr. Mark Tebbitt
Associate Professor

tebbitt@calu.edu

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Dr. Robert S. Whyte
Professor

whyte@calu.edu

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Dr. Ed Zuchelkowski
Professor

zuchelkowski@calu.edu

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