Kids playing at Thanksgiving dinner at the Child Development Laboratory in HES.

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 the anxiety and stress related to illness, disability, hospitalization and medical procedures. 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 them prevent or minimize psychological trauma. Courses focus on understanding normal and exceptional child and family development, effective methods of working with 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. Students who successfully complete the degree program are eligible to take the Child Life Professional Certification Exam presented by the Child Life Certification Commission (CLCC).

Photo from Mizzou Creative

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: