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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 health care 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.


Our Program is Made For You

This 40-credit hour program can be personalized to your focus on child life. Apply by January 15th for this program that starts in the Fall.

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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 Program  

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

Explore a Few of the Concentration Courses

Each concentration 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.

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).

Hear from Our 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 Concentration FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions.

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the child development 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, you may apply for an internship outside of the Chicago area hospitals to national clinical sites. You will be required to join weekly clinical seminars virtually in the internship year.

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.