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

Human Development and Family Studies (Child Life Specialist)

I am Interested in This Major

The Child Life Specialist emphasis area prepares graduates to provide for the socioemotional needs, and support the optimum growth and development of children and their families in a variety of health care 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 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 14 to 16 week clinical internship in a pediatric hospital setting. Students who successfully complete the degree program are prepared to take the Child Life Professional Certification Exam presented by the Child Life Certification Committee.

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: