PIMS Online FAQ’s

Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS) is now offering an alternative means of obtaining a professional education leading to the Diploma in Embalming and Funeral Directing and the Associate in Specialized Technology Degree.

The student will be able to complete nearly all credits necessary for professional education for practice as an embalmer/funeral director in the comfort of home or office. While PIMS OnLine will not replace the normal classroom setting, it will add an alternative means to obtaining a quality funeral service education via the Internet. Courses (except for the laboratories) are conducted over a secure website.

Since laboratories do require direct contact between student and faculty member, the student will be required to attend an accelerated restorative art laboratory class offered on campus

The courses offered via PIMS OnLine are the same courses that are offered in-residence. The only difference is the method of delivery. While there are no differences in the course content, there are differences in the term lengths. The campus-based programs offered at PIMS are offered over a 15 week trimester. The courses offered via PIMS OnLine are offered over an 8 week term.

No. Typically, correspondence courses are without any structure. PIMS OnLine courses will have similar structure as residence-based courses with term dates, assignments, due dates, class/faculty discussion, research papers, examinations, etc.

No. The courses offered via PIMS Distance Education have course titles, objectives, content, workload, and academic credit similar to campus-based courses. The award earned (AST Degree) at the conclusion of the program is the same one earned by students on campus.

Yes. The Associate in Specialized Technology Degree Program (Funeral Services Arts and Sciences) is accredited by the

American Board of Funeral Service Education Inc. (ABFSE),
992 Mantua Pike, Suite 108
Woodbury Heights, NJ 08097
(816) 233-3747
email:  exdir@abfse.org

Yes. Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, Inc, has been approved as an institutional participant in the SARA initiative. The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is an agreement among members states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions that are geographically based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts. When researching online programs, the student would be well-advised to confirm whether or not the institution is recognized by SARA. All online programs have to be state-approved by any state in which the institution wants to recruit students.

PIMS is now listed as an approved institution on the SARA website (www.nc-sara.org). Being an institution that participants in SARA means that the PIMS OnLine programs will be held to higher standards of educational excellence. PIMS will continue to ensure that all courses and programs that are offered through the SARA initiative provide high quality learning opportunities that can help students reach their educational goals.

The online offering of courses is designed for the student who through either personal or professional responsibilities cannot relocate to a campus-based program of instruction. Typically, students come from all walks of life and have a desire to enter funeral service. However, because of family commitments or ongoing job responsibilities they cannot attend classes at a designated time and place.

The online courses will be available on a 24×7 basis for registered students during the term of the course offering. Students will have the opportunity to study at a time more convenient to their own lifestyle. However, assignments will be made with due dates, as with inresidence instruction. Students will be expected to complete assignments and meet all other course requirements when due.

The student has the flexibility to study and meet course assignments around other family and personal responsibilities. Students should log on daily to participate in a text-based discussion on the course material which, in most cases, will be able to be done at a time convenient to the student.

The advantages of the distance modality for educational delivery at PIMS are obvious:

  • The student need not leave home in order to obtain the education necessary for career objectives.
  • Current jobs and family obligations need not be terminated or interrupted as the student pursues educational goals.
  • The terms and courses offered will enable the student to advance at their own pace. If all courses are taken when offered, the AST Degree program could be completed in approximately 2 years. The student may also take a reduced course load and extend the graduation to a maximum of 3 years.
  • The student is able to save considerable expenses related to relocation to an on-campus setting.

The disadvantages of distance education may not be so obvious:

  • While it may sound “convenient” to stay at home to pursue one’s educational objectives, distance education alternatives are not suited for everyone.
  • Socialization and direct face-to-face interaction with other students and faculty will be noticeably absent.
  • The student that pursues a distance education alternative will note that the courses are offered in an accelerated time-line. There are 8 week terms, as opposed to typical 15 week terms on-campus. Accelerated terms will require a dedicated commitment.
  • There are technology requirements for all students taking any online course.
  • Academic credits earned from PIMS Distance Education may or may not transfer to another college or university. As in the traditional campus-based educational setting, academic transfer credit policy is solely determined by the receiving institution.

The student must have a computer available with an Internet browser (ex. Internet Explorer, Mozilla or Safari, etc.) capable of accessing the Internet, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and an email account. All courses offered will require the student to access the Internet and to communicate with the faculty over the “net” through either discussion forums, chat rooms or email. There may be need to have access to a fax machine for document transmission and a DVD/audio/video recorder/player as well.

Students must have software available to them for word processing and spreadsheet use as well as a presentation program. Students registering for PIMS Distance Education will be required to use Microsoft Office Suite of products including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint (versions 7.0 and above). These are the only products that are approved for use at PIMS OnLine. Other forms of 3 software may not be compatible with software used by PIMS OnLine faculty. If students need to purchase software, PIMS can provide for student purchases at greatly reduced rates.

Learn more about the Technical Requirements for PIMS Distance Education.

The William J. Musmanno Memorial Library has an online catalog of resources that the student will be able to access. If a student wants to borrow resources for their course, this may be facilitated through mailing of holdings to the student. At the commencement of enrollment the student will be required to submit a credit card authorization for a deposit of $250.00. This will be necessary to borrow resources. This deposit will only be charged against, if the resources are not returned by the due date. Replacement cost for the resource will be forwarded to the student with the mailing. A credit will be placed on the student’s credit card account upon graduation from the program or if the student withdraws from the program.

Certain holdings are marked as “reference only.” These are not available for students to remove from the library.

Students must submit the application for admission as required of its campus-based students. One of the most important considerations regarding admission is that each state determines the educational requirements for its funeral directors and embalmers. The Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science will be happy to assist students with questions regarding any particular state’s requirements for licensure.

Students must meet the requirements of the various regulatory agencies for funeral service in the state of intended licensure. It is the student’s obligation to insure compliance with their requirements to be eligible for licensure with the licensing board and other approval agencies as would be required. In all cases, students must have earned a high school diploma or GED certificate. Advisory services are available at Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science to assist the student in this regard.

Fill out the Application for Admission, email your request for the application to pims5808email@gmail.com or simply call us at 412-362-8500 or toll-free at 1-800-933-5808 (outside of area codes 412, 724 or 878).

As with PIMS’ campus-based courses, tuition is charged on a per-credit basis. The tuition for PIMS Distance Education is charged at the rate of $380 per credit, effective October 2018. There is a single charge of $50 per course as an administration fee. Additionally, if textbooks are required for the course, PIMSBooks (a virtual bookstore) is available through the Institute’s website (www.pims.edu). However, students may purchase books through any source of their choosing.

For instance, Thanatology (SOC110) is a 2 credit course. The course will cost $760+ $50 per course + any charge for the textbook(s) that might be required. Microbiology (MIC110) is a 3 credit course. The course will cost $1,140 + $50 per course + any charge for the textbook(s) that might be required.

In addition there are additional charges for laboratory fees and supplies. These charges are assessed whenever the courses are taken. These charges are the same as with campus-based students.

All courses are reserved for students taking the schedule of courses as designed. Students taking less than the complete schedule of course offerings (space permitting) are charged at a tuition rate of $405/credit.

The restorative art laboratory and clinical embalming laboratories are a necessary and integral part of funeral service education. The restorative art laboratory will require the student to be on campus at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science for a period generally not to exceed 8 class days. The out-of-pocket expenses associated with the visit are the responsibility of the student.

The clinical embalming laboratory is administered in conjunction with PIMS preceptor partnerships at a funeral home convenient to the student. It will be the responsibility of the student to identify possible preceptors acceptable to Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, Inc. with which the Institute will partner. Participation agreements will be engaged and responsibilities and requirements of both the student and preceptor will be identified and 5 delineated.

Learn more about the Clinical Requirements for the PIMS Distance Education Program.

Some students may earn their experiential requirements with a local funeral home of their choice. However, the student must be an employee of the funeral home. In addition, there is paperwork which must be completed along with a required visit by a qualified faculty member to the funeral home.

As a result of this convenient arrangement for the student, the American Board of Funeral Service Education requires the school to visit the site where the student is going to earn these curricular requirements. This visit will be made prior to the student commencing with this experiential requirement.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education initiated new regulations which require online programs to seek individual state approval of programs. Due to some of the states’ regulations that are overly burdensome, PIMS has made some choices not to seek approval in these states and therefore may not be able to accept applications for admission from students from these states. Up-to-date information may be found at www.pims.edu.

Please contact admissions for any questions.

Prior to 2009, there was no additional charge for funeral home visits. However, effective January 1, 2009, with the transportation costs increasing at an unprecedented rate, there is a single charge of $650 for students to help underwrite the costs of one visit.

  • This fee will normally be billed following the visit.
  • If the student has paid this fee, subsequently withdraws or is separated from the program and whose visit has not yet been completed, it will be refunded.
  • If a subsequent visit becomes required, due to a change in employment by the student, the student will be responsible for another visit fee associated with this visit.

Additionally, if the student chooses to use the facilities at Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science for their preparation room experiences, this fee will be waived.

With the exception of laboratories and depending on the course and the faculty member, courses are administered over the Internet. Differences in administrative procedures will occur with regard to the use of threaded/unthreaded discussion forums, chatrooms, individual course requirements of the instructor and of course, testing procedures. Some of the examinations will be administered on a secured Internet site.

Courses are offered in a particular sequence. Due to the shorter term lengths, there are no terms in which more than 7 credits are offered. The course offerings are designed to be taken in a logical sequence. Only certain courses will be offered during any particular term. Students matriculate into PIMS Distance Education two to three times per year, in January and October (and June, when applicable).

Any other request for course registration which requires a departure from the normal sequence will be determined solely on a case-by-case basis and will require both faculty and administrative approval.

When you are admitted into the program and when you provide your email address, you will be contacted by email with instructions on accessing your course(s). Your instructions will include the URL (website) along with a password.

There are two academic course prerequisites that are required to be taken at any 2- or 4-year regionally accredited college or university prior to starting classes at PIMS:

  • Business Math
  • Accounting course(s) comparable to Financial Accounting (ACC 110) (at least 3 semester credits) offered at Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science.

These courses may be taken at any time prior to starting PIMS Distance Education and are part of the program. These 2 courses may also be taken at PIMS (on campus). Official grade transcripts from the college or university are required by PIMS to certify completion of these requirements.

It is advisable for students to seek assistance from PIMS officials on approval of courses mentioned above before they are taken to make sure that the courses are transferable and meet the course content requirements.

In addition, the various states may have pre-requisite study in order to meet the statutory requirements for licensing in any particular state. If there are questions regarding pre-requisite study, please contact admissions for further assistance.

The AST Degree requires the student have earned at least 30 semester credits within 2 distribution areas prior to application to Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. These credits are in addition to the Computer Applications/Accounting courses.

Due to the intensity of PIMS’ full-time program, it is not advisable to assume an academic overload with regard to course registration. Any such request would require special permission from the Dean’s office and would be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Several different methods may be used for examination administration. The faculty member will determine the methodology to be used. It may take the form of:

  • Timed examinations taken via a secure Internet site.
  • Open book/open notes examinations to be returned via email/snailmail to PIMS.

Faculty members may require any number of different criteria which will contribute to 7 grades earned. Examples might include reaction papers, research papers, online discussion group participation, etc. Each course will include a syllabus which will detail the requirements for each course and expectations of the students.

The Grading System used coincides with the grading system in place with the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science residence program. Student advisement services and individual student academic counseling will be available through the appropriate faculty member as needed. Students desiring other advisement services are encouraged to call the Pittsburgh Institute. The Dean’s office is available for such requests.

Students may withdraw from courses by writing the Institute with their intentions. The postmark or email date will constitute the official date of withdrawal for purposes of calculating refunds due the student. Non-participation in the class discussions or not returning assignments will not constitute formal withdrawal from the course. In addition, faculty members may withdraw a student from the course, if in their opinion, there is no such participation in the class, as may be required.

In accordance with regulations of the PA State Board of Private Licensed Schools, whenever a student enrolls and withdraws or is discontinued after the term has begun, but prior to completion of the term, refunds shall apply. Each term is 8 weeks long (56 days). Tuition refunds shall apply as follows:

  • First 10% of the term (6 calendar days) (days 1-6) 90%
  • Completion of 11%-25% of the term (days 7-14) 75%
  • Completion of 26%-50% of the term (days 15-28) 50%
  • Completion of over 50% of the term (days 29+) No refund

Each faculty member will be available throughout the term for Q&A sessions, either through email or designated office hours. Questions may be directed to the faculty member through their email address. This important information will be included in the course syllabus.

Yes. The student will be required to visit the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science to complete the Restorative Art Laboratory. However, it will be offered on an accelerated basis and should be able to be completed within 8 class days. The actual time will be determined by the student’s progress in the course.

In addition, there is a requirement to attend the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science once all course requirements have been completed, prior to graduation. This in-residence experience will be utilized for the following purposes:

  • Document and verify clinical embalming skills through clinical experiences at the Institute with Institute faculty.
  • Debrief and provide time for the student to meet with the various faculty to clarify, amplify and enhance the total experience.
  • Provide time for administration of the PIMS Comprehensive Examination (PIMSComp). This day-long examination will test the entire program of study of the AST Degree program. All students are required to pass the examination with a minimum 80% in each section (Funeral Service Arts & Funeral Service Sciences).
  • Out-processing for graduation from the AST Degree program.

Once admitted into the PIMS Distance Education program, course offerings will be distributed to students via email, along with the dates of the terms. Each course will be offered over an 8 week period. All students are expected to complete the courses on time. Incomplete grades will be awarded for students whose academic requirements are not completed by the end of the term. As with residence students, grades are converted to NC (No Credit) if requirements are not completed within two weeks following the end of the term. The Institute will only consider extraordinary circumstances, (such as extended illness) if presented in writing by the student for any departure from this policy.

As described earlier in this brochure, the entire AST Degree Program will be offered via PIMS Distance Education with the exception of the Restorative Art Laboratory. In addition, the student will be able to take the course requirements for accounting and for computer science at a college or university convenient for them. PIMS will not be offering these two course requirements via the PIMS Distance Education learning platform. As mentioned earlier in this document, students should obtain pre-approval of these courses to make sure that the course content is correct.

Books that are used for the courses are posted on the PIMS website (www.pims.edu) along with a link to a new virtual bookstore (PIMSbooks). However, students may purchase books from any vendor of their choice. It is advisable that the student obtain books far enough in advance of the term start date to allow for sufficient delivery time.

The supplies used for both the Restorative Are Laboratory and the Embalming Laboratory will be provided to students when they visit the Institute for these lab experiences.

As with the residence program at Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, students are required to maintain an overall Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 for graduation.

In addition, there are certain progress standards that will be necessary to maintain for continued advancement through the program. Since the terms are 8 weeks in length, the progress standards are changed accordingly. Effective January 1, 2016, the following academic progress standards will be implemented.

Cumulative Average Term of training with Pittsburgh Institute
00.0-1.59 Academic dismissal with opportunity to repeat FIRST THROUGH FOURTH FULL-TIME* EQUIV.TERM OF STUDY
 0.00-1.85 Academic dismissal with opportunity to repeat FIFTH THROUGH EIGHTH FULL-TIME* EQUIV. TERM OF STUDY
0.00-1.99 Academic dismissal or repeating courses in which a
“D” or “F” was received

* FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT is defined as a student taking all courses that are available and offered to a student within a cohort during any particular term of study.

It is the policy of the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and PIMS Distance Education, not to discriminate in its programs of education, employment, and all other activities on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, ancestry, national origin, age or disability.

Yes. Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science was a pioneer in online education for funeral service. Due to its leadership style and its goal of being able to closely manage the quality of programming, there is limited seating in each class. New cohorts are limited to 25 seats. Waitlists have been developed when needed.

  • Q: What is the waitlist?
    • A: The waitlist is compiled for those applicants who were considered qualified candidates for admission but were not offered a position in the program because the class had already been filled.
  • Q: I believe I was an excellent candidate, why was I not admitted?
    • A: We receive more applications than we can admit. The waitlist gives us a way to provide qualified applicants with another opportunity to be placed into the program.
  • Q: How are the students selected from the waitlist?
    • A: The best-qualified students on the waitlist are given the first opportunity to accept a position in a class once one becomes available.
  • Q: What happens to my application if I am placed on the waitlist, but do not get offered a position in the class?
    • A: After the start of a class, the remaining applicants on the waitlist are contacted by the admissions department and asked if they would like their application moved to the next class. Since the application has already been through the screening process we can offer the applicant a seat with the next class.

Title IV Financial Aid is now available to students of PIMS Distance Education according to eligibility guidelines set forth by the U.S. Dept. of Education.

The financial aid office also has alternative loan options available for all students.

Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science welcomes feedback from its student body. However, if you have a dispute, you are advised to try to settle your dispute with the office (ex. Registrar/Financial Aid/Dean’s Office, etc) where your dispute resides. Faculty are available for academic issues with individual courses. If you are not successful, you are advised to seek advisement from the Office of the Dean of Faculty and Students. There is a published policy available upon request regarding student grievances. If the dispute involves the Dean’s office, please contact the Office of the President & CEO .

Additionally you can find the various state’s education departments with contact information for filing a complaint.