BS - College of Education and Human Development

Human Development and Family Science (Child Life Specialist)

The Child Life Specialist emphasis prepares students to support child development and family coping within the context of pediatric illness, injury, medical treatment, and grief in a variety of health care and community settings. Child life specialists use therapeutic play, psychological preparation, and coping skills interventions to help reduce children's anxiety and stress related to illness, disability, hospitalization, and other challenging life experiences. Through a family-centered care approach, they provide parents and other family members reassurance and emotional support, help them understand psychosocial needs, and provide tools to help prevent or minimize psychological trauma. Courses focus on understanding typical and exceptional child and family development, effective methods of supporting children and families, as well as integration of theory and research into hands-on clinical practice experiences. In addition to a 100-hour practicum experience (selection is on a competitive, space-available basis) at MU’s Children’s Hospital, the student’s last semester is spent off-campus completing a 600-hour, unpaid clinical internship in a pediatric hospital setting. Placement at clinical internship sites is not guaranteed by the University of Missouri. Students who successfully complete the degree program with the clinical internship option are eligible to take the Child Life Professional Certification Exam presented by the Child Life Certification Commission (CLCC) after graduation.

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Common Career Paths

You can do nearly anything with a Mizzou degree, but here are some common career paths taken by graduates of this major:

Interested? Here are your next steps

If you are a Prospective Student

You strive to be the best version of you. You are ready to create your own adventure. If this sounds like you—you’ve got Tiger Pride already. We invite you to take the next step.

If you are a Current Student

Speaking with an adviser will help us chart the best path for academic success.