What Does a Child Life Specialist Do?
A child life specialist works with children and families who are facing traumatic situations like illness, injury, or loss. These professionals use techniques like play therapy and patient education to reduce the uncertainty and anxiety related to these kinds of stressors. Students interested in becoming child life specialists can choose from a number of undergraduate and graduate child life specialist degree programs.
Schools Offering Child Life Programs
Below is a selection of colleges and universities offering academic options for aspiring child life specialists.
|College of Charleston||Charleston, SC||Master of Science in Child Life|
|University of Missouri||Colombia, MO||Bachelor's, Mater of Arts, Master of Science in Child Life|
|Utica College||Utica, NY||Bachelor of Science in Psychology - Child Life|
|University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa, AL||Bachelor's in Human Development & Family Studies - Child Life|
|Grand Valley State University||Allendale, MI||Bachelor's in Psychology - Child Life|
|Texas State University||San Marcos, TX||Master of Science in Family and Child Studies - Child Life|
|University of New Hampshire||Durham, NH||Bachelor of Science in Human Development & Family Studies; Minor in Child Life|
|Loma Linda University||Loma Linda, CA||Master of Science in Child Life Specialist|
Bachelor's Degree in Family and Child Studies
Some universities offer child life programs within their departments of human development or family studies. These programs may be formal concentrations in child life or series of courses recommended for students who will seek certification, and they usually emphasize aspects of child and human development in both typical and atypical situations. In addition to an internship, students can expect to take classes like the following:
- Early Childhood
- Grief and Loss
- Development in Adolescents
- Family Development
- Children and Hospitalization
Bachelor's Degree in Psychology
Additional degree options can be found in departments of psychology. These programs may be interdisciplinary, combining traditional psychology classes and classes that emphasize education and child development. As with programs in departments of human development, psychology programs may offer formal specializations in child life, or they may provide students with recommended course sequences to prepare them for the profession. Typical classes include:
- Child Development
- Health Psychology
- Adolescent Development
- Psychological Assessment
- Families and Stress
- Helping Professions
Master's Degree in Child Life
At the graduate level, programs often grant degrees specifically in child life. These child life master's programs often prepare graduates to work in pediatric healthcare settings with families facing challenging illnesses or medical procedures. Many work in conjunction with area hospitals or healthcare providers to offer graduate students internships and practical experiences during their studies. Students can expect to spend about two years completing these programs and take courses like the following:
- Psychology of Illness
- Play Therapy
- Health Communication
- Child Life Theory
- Death and Grief
- Family Theory
How to Choose a Child Life Education Program
Aspiring child life specialists will want to consider several points when choosing a child life specialist college.
- Since different majors can prepare students for this career, think about whether a program in psychology, family studies, or a related field would best suit your goals and interests.
- Investigate the practical experiences child life specialist programs offer. Many child life specialist schools require or encourage internships, and these can provide valuable real-world experience in the field.
- Consider whether the program prepares students for child life specialist certification by the Association of Child Life Professionals.