Child Life Specialists are trained professionals who help children cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury, disability, and hospitalization. Drawing on child development theory, Child Life Specialists promote coping through play and therapeutic activities, and provide developmentally-appropriate preparation and education for children in health care settings. Child Life Specialists partner with medical teams to meet the cultural, emotional, and developmental needs of each child and family. The Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) establishes and maintains professional standards for the child life field. We developed our program to be in line with ACLP’s best practice recommendations.
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Take foundational courses in child and adolescent development:
In addition to the program’s core courses, you'll take:
To graduate, you must complete a 600-hour clinical internship within two years of finishing coursework. The internship is integrated into our program as academic coursework (CPSY 5996), so you'll continue to receive support from our academic and student services team as you fulfill the internship requirements.
With your degree in applied child and adolescent development with a specialization in child life, you’ll be prepared to pursue a career as a certified child life specialist.
The ACLP maintains professional standards for child life specialists. Visit ACLP's child life profession page to learn more about the field.
A certified child life specialist's salary may vary based on region, medical environment, and number of years as a child life specialist. There is often a pay raise that comes with having a master's degree.
Since this is an online program, all students qualify for the Minnesota resident tuition rate. Tuition for our M.A. program follows the University’s general resident graduate tuition rates for the College of Education and Human Development. Full-time enrollment is 6 to 14 credits per semester. Each track in our M.A. program has its own course and credit requirements.
Are you interested in taking a graduate course but aren't a student at the University of Minnesota? Visit OneStop Student Services to learn more about how to register.
Developmental science helps us understand how best to communicate with and support children of all ages through traumatic or stressful experiences, such as illness, injury, hospitalization, or grief. Our students will graduate with a deep knowledge of how to best serve children and their families during life’s most challenging moments.
Sarah Wiebler, M.S.
Child Life Coordinator