Undergraduate Child Life Certificate

The Undergraduate Child Life Certificate provides a structured pathway for students to obtain the required coursework to prepare for the required 600-hour clinical internship, in order to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS)

The purpose of the proposed Undergraduate Certificate in Child life is to prepare undergraduate students to become Certified Child Life Specialists by providing the specialized coursework needed to prepare students for a child life internship. The proposed certificate will provide a structured pathway for undergraduate students to complete the specific coursework required for a child life internship, as determined by the Association of Child Life Professionals. Students who complete the certificate will graduate with all the academic requirements needed to secure and complete the required clinical child life internship.

Benefits of the Undergraduate Child Life Certificate

Once admitted to the program, students will meet with child life program faculty as a group, at least once per semester, to discuss goals, progress, and upcoming milestones. Students will also have opportunities for individual meetings with child life program faculty during each semester they are enrolled in the certificate. These group and one-on-one meetings will help to support students by ensuring that they have information and support needed to be successful in child life. Benefits of the certificate include the following:

  • Complete all required academic coursework to pursue child life certification
  • Receive support and mentoring from child life faculty
    • Support for ACLP eligibility assessments
    • Support for practicum and internship applications
    • Help with affiliation agreements for practicum and internship
    • Information about child life conferences and other student experiences
    • Support in finding pre-internship experiences
    • And more!
  • Priority in registering for HDFS 5130S, HDFS 4820, and other courses as needed
  • Certificate completion will appear on academic transcript

Program of Study

Many of the courses needed for the Undergraduate Child Life Certificate are also required for the HDFS major. Required courses for the certificate are as follows:

  • HDFS 2300, The Science of Studying Human Development and Families
  • HDFS 3700 or HDFS 3700S, Adolescent Development
  • HDFS 3900, Prenatal and Infant Development
  • HDFS 3920, Issues in Family Systems
  • HDFS 4810/6810, Psychosocial Care of the Hospitalized Child and the Family (prerequisite for HDFS 4820/6820)
  • HDFS 4820/6820, Child Life Interventions for Children and Families in Health Care Settings
  • HDFS 4830S/6830S, Grief, Loss, and Bereavement Across the Lifespan
  • HDFS 4910/6910, Early and Middle Childhood Development
  • HDFS 5130/7130 or HDFS 5130S/7130S, Therapeutic Benefits of Play
  • Any two of the following courses:
    • HDFS 4330, Diversity in Human Development and Family Systems
    • HDFS 4860/6860, Parenting and Child Guidance
    • HDFS 4890S/6890S, Benefits of Animal-Assisted Interventions
    • HDFS 4140E/6140E, Medical Terminology for the Child Life Profession

How to Apply

Students are encouraged to apply to the certificate program in spring semester of their second year as an undergraduate student. The application process requires two steps:

Step 1: Log onto Athena and go to MyPrograms, just as you would for a major or minor. Select the Undergraduate Child Life Certificate and click “confirm.” You will receive an automated email stating that the certificate requires approval.

Step 2: Go to the HDFS Undergraduate Child Life Certficate Application page and submit the following application materials:

  • Unofficial transcript, documenting completing of the following courses, with a B or higher in each course:
    • HDFS 2100, Dating, Mating, Communicating: Relationships and Families
    • HDFS 2200, Introduction to Life Span Development
  • A statement of purpose (approximately 500 words) which addresses the following questions:
    • What is the role of a child life specialist?
    • Why are you interested in the Undergraduate Certificate in Child Life?
    • How did you first become interested in or aware of child life? How have you increase your knowledge/awareness of this profession?
    • What past experiences with children, adolescents, and families have prepared you for the Undergraduate Certificate in Child Life, and how have they prepared you? (Please describe specific experiences; do not just include a list of all experiences with children.)

Applications will be available on February 15 of each year, and are due by March 15. (Note: the HDFS application page link is inactive except during the application period each year.) Applications will be reviewed by core faculty members in the child life program. Students will be notified of the status of their application in April.

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