Master of Science in Child Life

Request More Information The Child Life program at Edgewood College, which is an Association of Child life Professionals endorsed academic program, is committed to educating and preparing future child life specialists of the highest caliber and quality. According to the Association of Child Life Professionals, a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) is a child development expert who works to ensure that life remains as normal as possible for children in health care settings and other challenging environments. Child life specialists provide services in a variety of health care settings, including inpatient units, surgery areas, intensive care units, emergency departments, clinics and outpatient treatment areas. Child life specialists also provide services in other settings such as dental offices, community organizations, special needs camps, and a variety of other areas. To an ever increasing extent, child life specialists are involved in providing grief and bereavement services not only in the hospital-setting, but in hospice programs, home hospice, community organizations, bereavement centers, support groups, and grief groups and camps.   

Obtaining the master’s degree in Child Life will equip you with research, leadership, and administration skills that will increase your marketability for additional job opportunities.


Program Highlights

Edgewood College is the only college in Wisconsin that offers students the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in Child Life. Students who graduate from the Child Life program go on to become child life professionals that serve children and families not only in Wisconsin, but throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world. Through the program, you'll develop expertise in helping children and families cope with stressful and traumatic events, including acute and chronic illness, hospitalization and medical encounters, pain and medical procedures, grief and loss. You will benefit from:

  • One-on-one academic and internship advising
  • A cohort model program with small class sizes to enhance the therapeutic relationship
  • Courses offered either face-to-face or virtually (no campus visits)
  • Access and collaboration with numerous child life programs in Wisconsin and Illinois (Practicum placement only available to those in the face-to-face cohorts).

This program meets the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) requirements for coursework, internship and certification. The Edgewood College Child Life program will continue to follow the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) accreditation of master's program requirements as they become available.

Degree Requirements and Courses

Degree Requirements

To receive the Master of Science in Child Life, you must have:

  • Earned 39 credits in prescribed Child Life Courses
  • Completed 600 clinical hours of Child Life internship
  • Maintained a 3.00 grade point average

Child Life Courses

CHLF600 - History of Child Life

This course will cover the theoretical perspectives of the care of children in hospitals beginning in the 1800's and researchers that created the foundations of psychosocial care of children.

CHLF601 - Introduction to Child Life
This course will explore the Child Life profession: theoretical and historical perspectives on Child Life; programming, job availability, trends affecting academic preparation; program requirements, field experiences, including practicums, internships and volunteer experiences; supplemental career options; interviews and presentations from child life professionals working within the field of Child Life.

CHLF610 - Infant, Child, Youth, and Adolescent Development for the Child Life Professional
This course will review all areas of development, from infancy, childhood, youth, and adolescent.  The course will examine direct applications of the knowledge and use of developmental theory to the practice of an effective child life professional.

CHLF620 - Psychosocial Care of Hospitalized Children and Families
This course will look at effects of hospitalization on infants, children, adolescents and families at each stage of development. The course will focus on applied theory and interventions to lessen the stress of hospitalization. The role of family systems and the relationship with the child life specialist as a member of the health care team will be explored. A practicum is required.

CHLF630 - Medical Terminology for Child Life
This course will use a systematic approach to basic medical terminology vocabulary. The knowledge obtained in this course will help students to successfully navigate in health care settings. Through the course and semester assignments students will learn ways to incorporate medical terminology in child life practice, interventions and resources.

CHLF640 - Child Life Seminar I: Communication and Collaboration 
This seminar style course will examine a variety of communication styles, both verbal and written, that will ensure effective communication with patients and families, child life colleagues, and the interdisciplinary health care team.  Additionally, strategies for effective collaboration these groups will be explored.  Documentation and charting styles will also be reviewed. 

CHLF650 - Child Life Seminar II: Leadership and Internship Preparation
The goal of this seminar style course is to help the student prepare for the various steps of the internship application process, including resumes, written essays and interviews.  Additionally, this course will explore leadership theories and styles to better prepare students for the leadership qualities needed to be a successful child life professional.

CHLF660 - Pediatric Condition and Effects on Child Growth and Development
This course focuses on  school-age and adolescent typical development; the study of the cognition and emotional development of a typical developing child, and how to explain common medical diagnosis/conditions and support the child (patient, sibling, and classroom (school reentry).

CHLF670 - Materials and Methods of Play for Child Life
This course will explore various materials and methodology for child life play/activity programs; including preparation, therapeutic medical play, distraction, and coping.

CHLF680 - Loss, Bereavement, and Trauma for Child Life 
This course will study a variety of special needs, interventions, and coping strategies for dealing with crisis situations of emergency room trauma, dying children and youth, and grieving families. This course will present an overview of child life services and programming in the following settings: emergency department, trauma, critical care, death and dying, grief and bereavement.

CHLF700 - Child Life Field Experience 
The Child Life Internship is a supervised observation and participation in Child Life programming for hospitalized children and adolescents in pediatric hospitals, community hospitals or other approved health care facilities. 

Interdisciplinary Courses

ED 603 - Introduction to Research
This course provides a general introduction to educational research and ethnographic, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Students learn how to construct research statements, research designs and data collection tools; do literature reviews; collect and analyze data; write up research findings; and develop research proposals.

ED 692 - Research Capstone Project
Students in this course design, conduct and write up a Master's research capstone project. Prerequisites: ED 603

PHIL 642 - Ethics for Health Care Professionals
This course examines various important ethical issues in medical practice and health care while exploring some philosophical approaches to moral responsibility. Major areas of focus include ethics in clinical medicine, public health, and the intersection of health ethics with global justice. This course has the goals of familiarizing students with some important issues in health care ethics as well as fostering independent critical thinking and writing on these topics.

Child Life Course Schedule (sample of face-to-face format)

Fall A 

  • CHLF 601-Introduction to Child Life – 3 Credits (If not previously taken) 
  • CHLF 610 – Infant, Child, Youth, and Adolescent Development for the Child Life Professional (Online) - 3 credits 
  • CHLF 620 – Psychosocial Care of Hospitalized Children and Families (with required practicum) – 3 credits 
  • CHLF 630 – Medical Terminology for Child Life (Online) – 2 credits 
  • CHLF 660 – Pediatric Conditions and Research (Online) – 3 credits 

Spring A 

  • CHLF 670 – Materials and Methods of Play for Child Life (with required practicum) – 4 credits* (3 credits in online cohort) 
  • CHLF 680 – Loss, Bereavement, and Trauma for Child Life – 3 credits 
  • ED 603 – Introduction to Research – 3 credits 

Summer A

  • CHLF 650 – Child Life Seminar II: Leadership and Internship – 3 credits
  • CHLF 600 – History of Child Life (Online) – 3 credits 

Fall B 

  • CHLF 640 – Child Life Seminar I: Communication and Collaboration – 3 credits
  • PHIL 642 – Ethics for Health Care Professionals – 3 credits 
  • ED 692 – Research Capstone Project – 3 credits 

Spring B 

  • CHLF 700 – Child Life Field Experience (Child Life Internship) – 3 credits 

Tuition and Financial Aid

Attending graduate school is one of the best investments you will ever make in yourself and your future. While the benefits related to personal development and growth are priceless, you can also expect your MS-Child Life degree, which will qualify you to become a professional Child Life Specialist and sit for the national certification to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) by the Association of Child Life Professionals. Be sure to consider not only the total cost of your education, but think about how that total breaks down in terms of monthly costs, which can make your investment feel more manageable and affordable.

Graduate tuition for the 2022-23 year is $1072 per credit (effective Summer 2022). The Master of Science in Child Life degree requires completion of a total of 39 credits.

Financial Aid

Graduate students are eligible for financial aid in the form of Federal Stafford Loans. Learn more about Stafford Loans, including eligibility requirements and application instructions.

Graduate Student Financial Aid

Our admissions and financial aid counselors have worked with thousands of students who have questioned how they could afford to complete their graduate education. They will use their experience to suggest creative solutions for financing your education. We work with students and organizations to manage tuition reimbursement plans, extend tuition discounts to various corporate partners in the region, offer third party billing and monthly payment plans, and work with veterans to maximize their available aid.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants must provide all of the following items. Only completed applications will be reviewed by the School of Education, Child Life Program for admission consideration:

  1. Provide evidence of a baccalaureate degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The cumulative grade point average is computed on the highest degree held at the time of application to the Edgewood College graduate program.
  2. Complete and submit graduate application.
  3. Request that official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate academic credits received from any post-secondary institutions be sent directly to Edgewood College Graduate and Professional Studies.
  4. Two letters of recommendation speaking to applicant success within a masters level program and the field of Child Life. One letter must be from a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) or a Child Life department member (including but not limited to volunteer coordinators and child life assistants).
  5. 25 hours of work with well children (paid or non-paid) Clinical Experience Hours Verification Form
  6. 75 hours of volunteer work in a child life setting - Please provide a brief description of how your preparation or experiences may have been impacted by COVID and what you have done to remain engaged with the child life community.
  7. One college course in child development or lifespan development strongly preferred.
  8. A written statement is required when applying to the Child Life Program. This essay should include the following:
    • Interests and motivation for wanting to be a Child Life Specialist
    • Ability to succeed in graduate school
    • What preparation, or accomplishments to date that impact your success as a future Child Life Specialist
  9. An interview with the Program Director and an admissions team is mandatory. This interview can occur online or face to face prior to acceptance.

Additional evidence may be reviewed by the School of Education. This could include information in such areas of the candidate’s background as:

  • General intelligence
  • Emotional stability and maturity
  • Academic achievement
  • Physical stamina and health
  • Moral and ethical fitness
  • Demonstrated competence in speech
  • Knowledge of correct spoken and written English
  • Demonstrated ability to work with children, youth, and others in child life settings
  • Conduct and competency background checks and practicum evaluations

These criteria reflect the policy recommendations and professional expectations of various national and state organizations related to the preparation of child life professionals. Edgewood College considers these criteria to be significant and appropriate guidelines for judging the professional merit of candidates in child life. Students who have successfully pursued their academic work, have been actively involved in planning their programs with appropriate advisors, and who responsibly and reflectively participate in activities related to their professional preparation for child life should have no difficulty in meeting the criteria for admission to the child life program.

International Students may have additional admission requirements. Learn more.


We offer rolling admission. Applications for Fall 2022 enrollment will be reviewed on three dates, provided seats are still open. Acceptance/waitlist decisions will be made on:

  • January 15, 2022
  • March 12, 2022
  • May 7, 2022

Questions? Contact Joann Eastman at jeastman@edgewood.edu or call 608-663-3250  for more information.

Meet Your Program Director


Dr. Katie Glass, CCLS

Katie Glass, an Edgewood College graduate, is the Director of the Child Life Masters Program. She has been a part of the Edgewood College faculty since 2008. She is Certified Child Life Specialist and has practiced clinically both at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon, New Hampshire and the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, WI. She is an active member of the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) and sits on multiple national committees promoting the profession and national academic standards. Katie has created several liaison programs which provide actual experience within the Child Life Program for students at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison as well as various community health organizations.

ACLP Endorsed

The Edgewood College Child Life Program is an Association of Child Life Professionals Endorsed Academic Program.


Links of Interest
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