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.
If you’re already a Certified Child Life Specialist, you won’t be required to complete an internship. You’ll work with an adviser to develop an individual academic focus and capstone project in a specialized area of child life, such as leadership, program development, or palliative care.
With your degree in applied child and adolescent development with a concentration in child life, you’ll be prepared to pursue a career as a Certified Child Life Specialist. If you’re already a practicing child life specialist, you’ll get the training you need to take the next step in your career.
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.
Pursuing this program has equipped me with the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to the broader field of child life, along with communication skills and strategies to support patients and families through traumatic and stressful experiences in a variety of settings.
Online M.A. child life track student
Students who take all of their courses online qualify for the Minnesota resident tuition rate. Tuition for our M.A. program follows the University’s general resident graduate tuition rates. Full-time enrollment is 6 to 14 credits per semester. Each track in our M.A. program has its own course and credit requirements.