This program prepares students to support the social-emotional needs of children and families in health care settings


The Child Life program combines courses in Human Development and Family Science with classes specific to issues in child life. Coursework also includes opportunities to apply theory and research in a hospital or other health care setting. Courses are sequenced in order to provide students with adequate preparation for the Child Life internship as well as the Child Life certification exam. Coursework is typically completed in six semesters across two academic years (including summers). 

The curriculum includes courses in the following areas:

  • Child development
  • Theories in family relationships
  • Research methods
  • The hospitalized child and family
  • Child life interventions
  • Therapeutic benefits of play
  • Death, dying, and bereavement
  • Hospital practicum
  • Hospital internship
  • Clinical project or thesis

Example Program of Study


After coursework is completed, a Child Life internship is a requirement of the program.  An internship allows you to work with Certified Child Life Specialists in health care settings and participate in:

  • Preparation for procedures
  • Developmental assessments
  • Support groups
  • Procedural support
  • Normalization activities
  • Bereavement activities
  • Documentation

You will have an opportunity to work directly with patients and learn how theory is applied to your work. The internship experience provides you with hands-on clinical training and the ability to develop professionalism and knowledge of Child Life practice. Students will apply and interview at hospitals of their choice. Once an internship offer is made and accepted, formal paperwork is completed between UGA and the specific hospital. Our students typically apply to and interview at many different hospitals to secure an internship.

Becoming a Child Life Specialist

This program provides coursework and practicum experiences to meet the Association for Child Life Professionals (ACLP) requirements for becoming a certified Child Life Specialist. Upon completion of coursework and the Child Life internship, graduates will be qualified to sit for the Child Life certification exam. For more information on becoming a Child Life Specialist, visit the ACLP website

Career Opportunities

Graduates of this program have obtained positions within various hospitals, pediatric hospice settings, and other child or family support organizations.  Positions held by some of the previous graduates include:

  • Child life specialist
  • Community-physician liaison
  • National outreach coordinator for local hospitals
  • Extension agent
  • Program coordinator of Children’s Miracle Network
  • Hospice specialist
  • Director of marketing
  • Public relations at the Georgia Transplant Foundation
  • Head Start/Early Head Start home-based program supervisor


Students with a Bachelor's degree in HDFS or a related area can apply for admission to our Master's program in Child Life. Strong candidates for the Child Life program will have a strong background in child development (including at least two college courses), as well as substantial experience working directly with children and families. Evidence of working with children and families in health care settings (such as hospitals or camps for children with medical needs) is preferred.  If you have completed a practicum in child life, please have your practicum supervisor serve as one of the three recommenders on your application.Students who enter the Master's program in Child Life typically complete the program in 2 years, including summer coursework and internship. For further information about applying, go to the How to Apply page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to learn more about this program? Check out our FAQ page. Prospective graduate students sthould also visit the Association for Child Life Professionals (ACLP) website to learn more about the Child Life profession.