Who is this degree for?

Chronic or terminal illness, disability, injury, surgery, or trauma presents a unique set of challenges to a young child. Child life specialists advocate for these children and their families, helping them face the unknown, making the complex understandable, and facilitating the optimal development of children whose medical treatment has deprived them of the typical opportunities for learning and growth.

Intended for students wishing to working in a hospital setting, Erikson’s child life specialization helps you develop the skill and sensitivity required for this important role through focused course work and an internship at one of the Chicago area’s many top-ranked medical facilities.

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Pre-admission experience
Before admission to the child life specialization, you should have 100 hours of direct experience with children and families in a hospital/medical setting, preferably under the supervision of a certified child life specialist. We strongly recommend that you have this completed at the time you submit your application to the child life program.

Download the hospital experience verification form [PDF, 1pg].

Curriculum and internship
Students complete the core child development curriculum, as well as two additional courses in child life in order to meet the course requirements for certification by the Child Life Council. Upon completion of all program course work, students apply for a child life internship at one of the hospitals in the area.

As part of the internship application process, you must provide:

  • Signed hospital experience verification form submitted during the Erikson application process.
  • Resume listing professional (paid) and volunteer experiences with children and families.
  • Verification (job history, letter of reference) of at least 100 hours of work with children and families in a non-medical professional supervised setting.

Even if you have experience with children at admission to Erikson, you may still be required to gain further concurrent experience or enhance your experience in order to better prepare you for the competitive nature of the child life internship application process.

As internship sites are increasingly expecting evidence of a completed practicum when applying for an internship, we strongly recommend that you complete a child life practicum in a hospital and that the practicum is verified by a certified child life specialist. This verification can be used toward our application requirement of minimum 100 hours of volunteer time; however, completing a practicum in addition to the 100 hours would be preferable.

Course Work

Sample course schedules

Core Courses:

Specialization Courses:

Assessment Elective Courses: