Master of Science in Thanatology Degree – Online

MPath – Marian’s engaging online education platform

Earn your MS in Thanatology through MPath, Marian’s student-centered online platform.

Loss, grief, and bereavement are part of everyone’s life. Supporting individuals and families confronting these and other non-death loss issues requires dedication, compassion, empathy, and in-depth knowledge of psychological, spiritual, social, and cultural elements that impact death and grieving.  

Marian’s Master of Science in Thanatology prepares students for employment in organizations that focus on the delivery of care for individuals and families confronting end-of-life healthcare, bereavement issues, suicide, and more. Thanatology addresses grief and loss for varied populations including children, parents, military, and veterans. Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue careers in churches, funeral homes, hospices, hospitals, and non-profit organizations.  

Students benefit from the accomplished thanatology faculty at Marian University. Faculty are leaders in the field regularly publishing in respected journals and trade books and speaking at national conferences. They bring years of experience working in professional settings and use that experience as they provide students with professional feedback and guidance. 

Give Hope and Healing. Earn Your MS in Thanatology – 100% Online

Our Partners in Thanatology Education

Marian University has partnered with national and international organizations, making those important connections that mean your Master of Science in Thanatology education is aligned with the body of knowledge of these important organizations.  Marian has educational partnerships with the National Alliance for Children’s Grief (NACG), the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, The National End-of-Life Doula Alliance, The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC), and the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).

Members of these organizations, plus members of the National Funeral Directors Association, are eligible for tuition discounts.

Applied Thanatology Capstone, 3 credits

The capstone project is designed to help students achieve their professional goals and therefore serves as a tool to begin to transform those goals into reality. As a student you will work with the program director or professor aligned with your area of interest and choose between a thesis or applied project approach.

Whether you choose to work on a thesis or applied project, the MS Thanatology Capstone topic is student-driven and designed to help you achieve your professional purpose.


Student can choose to research and develop a thesis based on their thanatology area of interest.


Students choose a project topic that will advance their future goals. Project ideas include:

  • Write a grant
  • Design a community in-service
  • Create a conference presentation
  • Develop a plan for a new project

Enhance your career with
advanced thanatology education.

Enhance your career with advanced thanatology education.

Careers for Thanatology Professionals

Marian University’s program attracts those with established thanatology careers or jobs in industries where knowledge in thanatology can enhance their professional abilities. Because a person who practices thanatology supports individuals and families of all ages, career options are vast.

Where You Can Work

  • Church

  • Funeral Services

  • Hospital

  • Independent Practice

  • Government Agency

  • Nonprofit Agency

  • VA Services

Become Certified by ADEC

Marian University’s degree and certificate programs meet the coursework requirements of the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) for graduates to sit for the exam to become Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement.

Association for Death Education and Counseling logo

“Our students come from diverse professional backgrounds and continue to expand professionally into a variety of thanatology driven careers. Our student-driven capstone allows students with distinct interests to develop a project or thesis that will serve to advance their goals post-graduation.”

Korie Leigh, PhD, CCLS, CT
Program Director, Thanatology
Associate Professor

MPath logo

MPath Online Program Schedule: 15-Week Semester

Marian’s Master of Science in Thanatology is designed to prepare busy adult learners for a career providing care for people facing end-of-life and bereavement issues. MPath’s 15-week semester provides a more traditional semester experience in a format built for the modern student. Our online program helps adult learners move forward on their path to reaching their goals with small class sizes, faculty feedback, and in-depth topic discussion. The online traditional semester helps students:

  • Complete their degree in a convenient format
  • Learn how to think critically about a new topic
  • Absorb and reflect on lessons
  • Learn through robust online course content
  • Take time for scholarly inquiry
  • Integrate learning with their other adult responsibilities

MS in Thanatology Curriculum

Students in the MS Thanatology program will complete their coursework 100% online supported by expert faculty highly accomplished in their field. Completing the 36 credit hours usually takes 3.5 to 4 years if taking one course at a time. If taking two to three courses at a time, students can complete the program in 2 years. Personalized instruction helps students form connections and professional networks through hospitals, hospices, nonprofit organizations, and other employers.

Academic Bulletin

The Program

Marian’s Master’s of Thanatology can be completed in less than two years through a flexible course sequence. Students will enroll in an 18-credit core curriculum with 18 credits of electives. The program combines rigorous study across the spectrum of end-of-life studies. This includes:

  • Palliative and Hospice Care
  • Ethics
  • Spirituality and Religion
  • Suicide and Prevention
  • Traumatic Death
  • End-of-life Decision Making
  • Communication with Service Providers and Families
  • Program Development and Assessment
  • Diversity
  • Death Education

Degree requirements

To receive the Master of Science in Thanatology, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Completion of coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale)
  • Submission and approval of the final capstone project

Core Courses

Thanatology majors will take courses covering topics such as:

  • Palliative and hospice care
  • Ethics
  • Spirituality and religion
  • Suicide and prevention
  • Traumatic death
  • End-of-life decision making

Learning Outcomes

  • Graduates of this program will recognize and articulate the foundational assumptions, central ideas, and dominant criticisms of contemporary thanatology theory and practice.
  • Graduates of this program will demonstrate competence in applying thanatology evidence-based best practices in needs assessment and support services/program development, delivery and assessment for individuals and families confronting the end of life, death, loss and bereavement including bereavement after natural death, traumatic death, in various cultural contexts, and across the life span
  • Graduates of this program will design and implement educational programs on death, the dying process, end-of-life decision making, and bereavement topics for communities and professional audiences.
  • Graduates of this program will analyze, synthesize and evaluate the relationship between religious and spiritual belief systems and the reaction to and coping with death, and incorporate these elements appropriately into service delivery.
  • Graduates of this program will conduct and evaluate thanatology action research critically and reflectively.
  • Graduates of this program will participate effectively in the academic and professional community.
  • Graduates of this program will identify and discuss common ethical issues with individuals and families.


The mission of the Edwin S. Shneidman Program in Thanatology is to educate students from diverse backgrounds in the fundamental concepts, knowledge, research, techniques and skills of thanatology in order to (1) prepare them for employment in a wide variety of thanatology-related positions and (2) prepare them to contribute to the discipline of thanatology academically and professionally.

Professional Standards

The Master of Science and Graduate Certificate in Thanatology programs offer a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and scientific study of the dying and grieving process; cultural attitudes towards death and loss; spirituality and ethical standards; suicide prevention education; applied research; and the spiritual, social, psychological and medical aspects of dying, death, loss and grief. Our curriculum is aligned with the Association for Death Education and Counseling’s (ADEC) Body of Knowledge, and prepares students to take the ADEC certification examination. As a graduate, you’ll be prepared to find employment in areas like churches, funeral homes, hospices, hospitals and non-profit organizations, among others

Our graduates are prepared with the skills and practical experience needed for success, with many students finding employment before graduation.  Our first graduate was hired as a hospice bereavement program coordinator while still a student in the program, and was offered the position over applicants with MSW degrees.

Admission Requirements:

To be considered for admission into the Master of Science in Thanatology, the applicant must submit the following:

  • A completed Marian University application form
  • Apply online for free at APPLY
  • An official transcript from each college or university attended; Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Students may be considered for admission on a probationary status with less than a 3.0 GPA
  • Career goal statement

To apply for the Masters of Science in Thanatology, use the Admissions Checklist. This document will guide you through the process and ensure that you have submitted all of the necessary materials.