Child Life (Online)

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  • Master of Science: 43 credits

Cutting-edge preparation in alignment with the Child Life Council

Develop the skills necessary to promote family-centered care and work with children and their families who are living with chronic and acute healthcare challenges.

Certified Child Life instructors & advisors

Upon graduation you will be eligible to sit for the Child Life Certification exam and work in a healthcare environment and become a Certified Child Life Specialist.

Troy Pinkney-RagsdaleTroy Pinkney-Ragsdale
Program Director

The Child Life Program prepares students to work with children and their families who are living with the realities of chronic and acute illness, surgery, trauma, injuries and disabilities. Students learn developmentally meaningful ways of working with children and families in healthcare and community settings.

Students gain an understanding of medical issues coupled with a firm grounding in practice. This combination of theory and practice, serves as an excellent foundation for child life specialists who work with children, youth and families.

Students learn to advocate for children and their families, prepare children for medical procedures, teach children and their families about their illness, minimize stress and anxiety for children and their families, create opportunities that strengthen self-esteem and independence, provide non-pharmacological techniques to comfort children, and provide normal life experiences that promote optimal growth and development.


The Child Life Council grants Child Life Professional Certification. Upon completion of our child life master's degree, graduates will have satisfied the course requirements, will have completed the Child Life Council's mandated 480 hour internship in a child life program supervised by Certified Child Life Specialists, and will be prepared to take the certification examination administered by the Child Life Council at selected locations. For more information, contact the Child Life Council at (301) 881-7090 or

Supervised Fieldwork / Advisement

Taken concurrently with coursework, supervised fieldwork is designed to foster the integration of theory and practice. You will:

  • Intern in an approved child life healthcare setting.
  • Be mentored by your Bank Street advisor, and be supervised by Certified Child Life Specialists as you work with children in your fieldwork setting.
  • Benefit from monthly observations from your Bankstreet advisor in your setting.
  • Gather with your advisor and a small supportive peer group once a week throughout the academic year.
  • Meet individually with your advisor twice each month.

Securing an Approved Internship Position

All child life students are required to secure an internship position in a clinical setting for the fall and spring of the supervised fieldwork year. Students need to complete a total of 560-600 hours in an approved setting by the completion of their internship. To gain this highly competitive position, Child Life students must apply for a minimum of five internship placements in the tri-state area. Each student must be interviewed for, accepted into, and matched with an appropriate setting.

Matches are made based on consideration of the student’s preferences, the sites’ preferences, and the availability of internships. Ultimately, the college cannot guarantee internship placement. If a student cannot secure a placement, the student will need to go through the intern application process the following year. The internship is a mandatory component of the program. A student who is unable to secure an internship after trying for two years will not be able to complete the degree.

Career Opportunities

  • Work in acute and chronic illness child life programs in hospitals, clinics, and other health care settings.
  • Work in child advocacy and parent support roles in child protective services or adoption agencies.
  • Support children and their families who have experienced traumatic life circumstances and health related challenges.

Admissions Requirements

  • Candidates need to have completed a bachelor’s degree and to demonstrate experience working with children.
  • Candidates need to complete at least 100 hours of volunteer work in a Child Life setting and submit documentation of these hours to be considered for admission.  In order for an application to be completed and reviewed, documentation of these 100 hours will need to be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions.
  • At least one letter of recommendation needs to be from a Child Life Specialist (most likely the one who supervised you during your volunteer experience).
  • See the Admissions Criteria.