Printer Friendly Format (pdf)
Child life specialists are devoted to meeting the psychosocial needs of children with illness and disabilities and their families. Required coursework focuses on understanding child and family development, effects of stress and crisis on individuals and families, child and family advocacy, ethical and administrative aspects of work in health care settings, and research and evaluation methods. Supervisory and clinical positions are typically found in settings such as hospitals and outpatient clinics, and associated settings such as pediatric rehabilitation, hospice, and bereavement centers. Both theses (MS) and non-theses (MA) options are offered, but students must gain approval of their advisor and then petition the faculty for permission to write a thesis. The non-thesis option involves either an internship or fast-track project. The Master's program typically takes 2 years to complete. Graduates of the Master's program are well qualified to take the child life certification (CCLS) exam.
Students who have undergraduate degrees in related fields (i.e., child development, psychology, counseling, social work, education, etc.) enter the M.A. track and complete a 480-hour (minimum) clinical internship as a part of the graduate program. The internship is usually completed at a pediatric healthcare facility outside of Columbia. With faculty and staff guidance, students must initiate and complete the process of obtaining their own internship positions. The chosen internship site must meet the approval of the Child Life Internship Coordinator in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. This internship is completed as the final 9 hours in the Master's program and involves supervised clinical work and coursework.
Students who have undergraduate coursework in child life and have completed an approved child life clinical internship prior to application to our program may enroll in the "Fast-Track" (30 credit-hour) option to obtain either an M.A. by completing a project, or an M.S. (requires completion of a thesis). Enrollment in the "Fast Track" program must be approved by the student's advisor.
Ideal undergraduate preparation includes courses in development across the life span; practical skills for work with younger children, adolescents, and parents; medical ethics; and communication skills. The following types of courses are essential. Students who have not taken any of them as undergraduates will be required to add them to those required for the Master's degree. These background courses include:
Students who have not met prerequisites 1-4 have the option of taking the appropriate courses here at the University of Missouri, but should expect that this may mean adding an additional semester or two.