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Online Master of Science in Child Development

Prepare to excel in serving the complex needs of children and their families.

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Help Build, Manage and Innovate Child Life Programs

This online program is designed for Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) with three to five years of experience. As a CCLS, you know the importance of advocating for psychosocial needs of children and families. With this degree, you will develop an exceptional knowledge of child development, leadership and advocacy skills that can be applied within both hospital and non-hospital settings.

A User-Friendly Online Program in Child Life Leadership

Start this Fall and earn your MSCD Child Life degree.

30 Credit Hours


Fall or Spring Start Date

Part-Time: 3 years

Full-Time: 20 months

$1, 135 per credit hour


Earn Your Child Life Leadership & Advocacy Degree with Leaders in the Field

Become the advocate that children and families need with this Master in Child Development program designed for Certified Child Life Specialists.

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Flexible Study Options

Attend part-time or full-time based on your needs with this online degree.

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Small, Personal Classes

Be seen and heard working closely with your professors and peers.

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Faculty Experts

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

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Comprehensive Classes

Our online program delivers an exceptional range of child development knowledge.

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Self-Reflective Supervision Seminars

Learn resilience and healthy professional practices from experienced practitioners.

Your Final Capstone Project

The capstone project is the culminating project for your Online Master of Child Development degree that demonstrates what you have learned from your coursework as well as your professional experiences. Students will take the tenets of leadership and advocacy, and couple it with their drive for improvement, creativity in finding system-wide solutions, and vision for the field of child life, to design and implement a final Capstone Project.

With the support of a faculty adviser, you’ll fine-tune and decide on the nature of your project.

Hear from Our Faculty

Shira Miller
Shira Miller
MS, CCLS, Adjunct Professor, Child Life Leadership Program
“ What I love most about teaching within this program is that I’m here to empower my students to step up and embrace their vision. At Erikson, child life students don’t just learn the material, they learn how to challenge it, too. Why? Because that’s what leaders do. That’s how new child life ideas are created. And how better solutions are devised. ”
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Financial Services

How Much Does a OMSCD Degree Cost?

Your Child Life Leadership degree shouldn’t break the bank.

With dozens of scholarships and financial aid opportunities, we’re here to help you achieve your professional goals.

Financial Aid Options Tuition & Fees


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Apply Now for Priority Scholarship Considerations

Applications received by March 15th (for Fall) and November 15th (for Spring) receive priority consideration for scholarship awards.

Start My Application

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Career Services

Erikson Institute Supports You at Every Step of Your Journey

Erikson Institute Supports You at Every Step of Your Journey.

  • 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.

Learn more about Career Services

Alyson Marie
Student, Child Life Leadership 2022
“ My experience at Erikson has encouraged me to turn my passion into projects that can make a difference for patients and families. I now feel confident that I have the skills to advocate for the profession of Child Life, in my hospital, as well as advocate to have Child Life Specialists involved in a patient’s mental and behavioral healthcare. ”

Explore a Few of Our Child Life Leadership Program Courses

Want to know what you’ll uncover while embarking on your Online MSCD degree? Check out a few examples of the courses you’ll take in our program.

See all OMSCD Courses

Administration of Child Life Programs
This course focuses on organizational factors important in leading, administering and supervising programs in child life.
Child Life Policy and Advocacy
This course is designed to enrich the perspective and enhance the capacity of diverse child advocates who want to ensure child life policy leads to improved quality, access and equity for young children and their families.
Working with Adults
This course examines why working with adults in children’s lives is every bit as important as working with the children themselves, yet the field tends to spend very little time and energy reflecting upon intentional and effective work with colleagues, supervisors, parents, and other family and community members.
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Erikson Professors are Leaders in the Field

Gain expert perspectives working closely with leaders in the field.

Erikson’s Child Life Leadership program faculty are nationally recognized. With specific research interests and decades of experience, each of our faculty enriches your academic experience, connecting you to new networks and the latest data.

Meet the Program Faculty

Hear from Our Faculty

Jennifer Berchtold
Jenny Kemp Berchtold
MS, CCLS, DT, CPST, Manager, Infant Studies Certificate Programs, CEIM
“ This program is designed to take your practice to the next level and provide tools and approaches to use in your work today. The curriculum combines a deeper dive into development and the impact hospitalization and medical challenges can have on the whole child through an exploration of cutting-edge research, clinical skills, and leadership approaches. ”


OMSCD Program FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions.


The principal difference between the two programs is that the online program does not lead to child life specialist licensure. If you are interested in becoming certified as a child life specialist, you should seek admission to the on-campus MS in Childhood Development program with the child life concentration.

The other key difference is in the culminating experience requirement for the programs: the on-campus program requires a two-semester internship while the online program requires a two-semester action research project conducted in the field.

The program is designed and delivered as a fully online program, and there are no in-person residency requirements.

For each course, you will need access to a computer with internet access an average of five out of seven days a week, for a total of 10 or more hours per week. You can log in to Erikson Online anytime and anywhere, from any computer connected to the internet (home, work, computer lab, public wi-fi location, etc.). High-speed internet access is required.

Hardware requirements:

  • A personal computer running Windows 7 (or higher) or a Mac running OSX 10.7 (or higher)
  • Monitor with screen resolution of 1024 x 768 (or higher)
  • USB/Firewire web camera (or built-in camera)
  • USB headset/microphone (or built-in speakers and mic)
  • Printer

Software requirements:

  • Word processing: Microsoft Pages or compatible program such as OpenOffice Writer
  • Presentation graphics: Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote or compatible program such as OpenOffice Impress
  • Web browser: Erikson Online recommends Firefox as your web browser to access course content
  • WebEx: Instructions on how to download and access the WebEx platform will be provided prior to your first synchronous meeting
  • Email software: Erikson email ( is required; a free account is provided once you are accepted into the program

We award over $2 million in need-based grants and scholarships to students enrolled in our degree and certificate programs. Erikson also participates in the federal Direct Loan programs and assuming you meet all eligibility requirements, you will have access to both Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS loans to help finance your Erikson education.

Many of our students also receive scholarship funding from the State of Illinois through the Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship program. Learn more about Gateways scholarships.

Yes. Almost all of our online students work either part-time or full-time as they are pursuing their Erikson degree. The program was designed specifically with working professionals in mind — the cohort model allows you to balance your work and Erikson course schedules.


While enrolled at Erikson and upon graduating from the program. You’ll receive feedback on your resume and cover letters, and we also maintain a job board on our campus portal where employers list part-time and full-time positions for which they’re hiring.

The Career Services team also plans an annual social work, early education and child development job fair for Erikson students and alumni. In concert with the job fair, you can submit your resume to be included in an annual Resume Book that we distribute to hundreds of organizations and managers who are interested in hiring Erikson students and alumni.

You’ll have access to a wide range of both informal and formal student support services. These include:

  • The Field Education and Career Services team will help you identify and apply for your internship placement. Erikson has hundreds of pre-approved internship sites, so you don’t have to worry about finding a placement site on your own.
  • Advising about your financial aid options, including personal financial education, is coordinated through the Financial Aid Office.
  • Academic advising is facilitated through your faculty advisor and program director.
  • The Academic Success Center provides services to help you with the academic reading and writing expectations of your program. The Center also sponsors discussion groups for selected master’s program courses.
  • The Dean of Students provides advising and support for students with disabilities and students who need accommodations for their academic work.
  • WorkLifeMatters is a confidential student assistance program offered to all Erikson students through Guardian and Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH). You have unlimited access to consult with a professional counselor via telephone. Face-to-face counseling sessions are available, if needed, with an IBH network provider — and up to eight sessions are free of charge as part of WorkLifeMatters.
  • Validated parking at a reduced rate is provided to Erikson students in three nearby parking garages. You will also have access to deeply discounted public transportation through the CTA U-Pass program.