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MSCD Child Life Concentration

Prepare for your role as a Certified Child Life Specialist in health care settings.

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Join One of the Most Highly Respected Child Life Programs

Develop specialization for the healthcare field.

As a Certified Child Life Specialist in hospitals and community-based medical centers, you’ll be able to use your Erikson-acquired skills to advocate for children and their families in health-care settings as they cope with chronic and acute illness, injury, or trauma. Help them understand their complex health care challenges and to minimize the stresses brought on by medical procedures and the hospitalization experience.

Join one of The Nation’s Top Grantors of Master’s Degrees in Child Development

Start this Fall and earn your Master’s in Child Development with a Child Life concentration.

40 Credit Hours

On Campus

Fall Start Date

Part Time: 3 years

Full-Time: 2 years or 28 months


Our Child Life Specialist Program is Made For You

This 40-credit hour Child Life program can be personalized to your focus on child life. Apply by January 30th for this program that starts in the Fall on Campus.

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High Demand Skills

Gain actionable, valuable child development knowledge for your work with children and families.

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ACLP Endorsed Academic Program

Meets the academic standards of the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP).  

On completion of program requirements, be eligible to sit for the Child Life Professional Certification Examination. 

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Specialized Internship Placements

Complete a two-semester internship with a minimum of 600 hours under the supervision by a Certified Child Life Specialist in an approved child life clinical program.

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Faculty Experts

Learn from our nationally recognized faculty and build a network of colleagues.

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Your Ideal Child Life Certification Program  

Depending on your goals, choose from a 2 year or 3 year program.

Explore a Few of the Concentration Courses

Each concentration course allows you to delve deep into a key area of child development. You’ll build a toolkit of new skills to help you thrive in this demanding field as a certified Child Life specialist.

See all the child life courses

Child Life in Health Care Settings: History, Theory, Research, Scope, Methods and Professional Issues
This course will present an overview of the history, philosophy, theory, research, practice and professional issues of the field of Child Life.
Grief and Loss in Children and Families 
This course will focus on children and their families’ experience of grief and loss from a developmental and cultural perspective.
Therapeutic Play in Pediatric Health Care Settings
This course will review play and its many functions in the hospital setting such as recreational play (to facilitate normalization), developmentally supportive play, and procedural and medical play (to support procedures and establish control).
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Career Services

Erikson Institute Supports You at Every Step of Your Journey

Our Career Services team is there for you in both the preparation and search for a job.

  • Career counseling and workshops
  • Annual job fair and networking events
  • Interview prep and resume reviews
  • Career placement program
  • Student and graduate resume book

With hundreds of partnerships and robust networks of alumni and field experts, the Career Services team is here to help you put your education into practice.

Meet our Career Specialists

Hear from Our Certified Child Life Specialist Alum

Headshot of Dana Thornquist, Certified Child Life Specialist, MS Child Development 2017, Erikson Institute alum.
Dana Thornquist
Certified Child Life Specialist, MS Child Development 2017
“ Just a few months after graduating from Erikson Institute, I landed my dream job. My Erikson education with its multiple field work experiences had prepared me more than I realized. ”
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Look Into Erikson’s Robust Financial Support & Scholarship Options

With dozens of scholarships and financial aid opportunities, our team is here to help you make your graduate education more affordable.

Based on your unique professional goals, we can help you understand tuition and expenses, and identify possible financial support opportunities.

Financial Aid Options  Tuition and Fees



Child Life Specialist Program Concentration FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions.

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the child life specialist master’s program, we require the following for admission to this highly competitive child life program:

  1. Verification of at least 100 hours of work with children and families in a professional supervised setting through an internship or direct volunteer experience in a medical setting prior to your first academic term. Preferred: Evidence of a completed child life practicum in a hospital, verified by a Certified Child Life Specialist. If you don’t have hospital provided documentation, you can complete and submit Erikson’s hospital experience verification form prior to your first academic term.
  2. A resume listing paid and volunteer experiences with children and families.
  3. At least one letter of recommendation from a Certified Child Life Specialist.

Yes, our endorsed program allows you to pursue an internship at any hospital offering a formal internship program across the US. Your final year at Erikson is intentionally designed to be able to be completed from anywhere outside of Chicago, with all of your required coursework being offered virtually.

No. This degree program is considered a campus program where you are required to complete some or all your courses at our Chicago campus. Our child life-specific coursework, taken over the 3 semesters prior to internship, is offered in-person in a “community learning lab” style environment with your cohort. Cohorts are small and lend themselves to close and meaningful learning relationships, especially in the time that you share together on our Chicago campus. This specific coursework is offered on-campus only.

If you complete our 3-year program, you can choose to complete the first 3 semesters in Chicago on our campus or virtually from any remote location (please note: some synchronous course sessions on Zoom may be required, while other work can be done asynchronously on your own schedule). Then, the following 3 semesters are completed on campus prior to your two internship semesters. Your internship semesters can be done from the location of your internship placements.

Our 2-year program is completed with 3 semesters on campus, and 2 semesters which can be done from the location of your internship placements.

Please see the list of accredited hospital sites across the nation on the ACLP website. Erikson will support you in securing an internship with mentoring and coaching.

We cannot guarantee placement in an approved child life internship since the decisions for acceptance into the internships are the purview of the child life clinical programs. If you are unable to secure an approved internship in either the fall or spring semester, you will need to secure a child life internship during the summer term after the completion of your coursework. If you do not secure an internship after three attempts, you will need to graduate from Erikson Institute with a Master’s Degree in Child Development, but without a child life concentration. You may continue to seek a child life internship on your own after graduation but as an independent applicant, not affiliated with Erikson Institute.