Child Life (Online)

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  • Master of Science: 30 or 42 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.

Learning side by side with students who are new to the field, the Advanced Standing option will allow existing practitioners to delve into the research that supports much of their practice. Practitioners will examine their own beliefs, and will be able to share their expertise, experience, problem-solving and supervisory skills with more novice students. Through the program, all students will enrich their understanding of medical issues and developmentally appropriate techniques that they will be apply to their own work place.

All applicants must have a dedicated computer or tablet and Internet access.  In addition, you'll need to be set up with specific technical requirements.  For more information, click here.

Child Life, 42 credits

The Child Life program prepares students for careers as Certified Child Life Specialists in both hospital and community healthcare environments.

  • Courses
  • 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 virtual three-way meetings with your Bank Street advisor and site supervisor.
    • Meet virtually with your advisor and a small supportive peer group once a week throughout the academic year.
    • Meet virtually 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 ten internship placements. Each student must be interviewed for and accepted into an appropriate setting.

    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.

  • Certification

    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

  • 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.

Child Life Advanced Standing Track, 30 credits

For certified Child Life Specialists wishing to obtain a master’s degree to further their career.

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.