Child Life Concentration

The Child Life Concentration is for Human Development & Family Science students interested in pursuing the healthcare career of a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). A CCLS helps to minimize the stress and anxiety that children and their families experience in healthcare settings through developmentally appropriate education for medical procedures, coping support, and therapeutic play. Students in the Child Life Concentration will be able to apply their child development and family systems theoretical knowledge to prepare for the complex needs of hospitalized children and their families.


The Child Life Concentration follows the coursework requirements from the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP), the organization that sets the eligibility criteria for the CCLS profession, featuring courses on the following topics:

  • Child Life Theory and Practice *Pre-approved by the ACLP!
  • Development of Young Children in Context
  • The Adolescent and the Family
  • Family Dynamics
  • Family Stress Management
  • Developmentally Appropriate Play
  • Developmental Perspectives on Death and Dying
  • Research Methods in Human Sciences
  • Human Physiology
  • Ethics

Students should contact the College of Human Sciences & Education Office of Student Services with questions regarding admission requirements.

Child Life Specialist Course Requirements

Child Life Concentration Disclosure

The Master of Science in Human Development & Family Science (HDFS)-Child Life Concentration does not directly lead to the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) certification upon graduation. Upon successful completion of the MS in HDFS-Child Life Concentration, graduates will have satisfied the course requirements set forth by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP). After degree completion, graduates will need to satisfy internship requirements set forth by the ACLP prior to receiving eligibility to take the child life certification exam. If you intend to pursue the CCLS certification, please contact the ACLP at their website to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements to earn CCLS certification.

Procedures for filing appeals and complaints are accessed here.

Contact Us

Laura Ainsworth, PhD, LCSW