Child Life

Human Development and Family Science - Child Life

Are you interested in working with children and their families in health-care settings? If so, becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist might be the career path for you!

Child life services are delivered to children and families in health care settings as part of an integrated patient- and family-centered model of care.  Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in child life are prepared to work in a variety of settings (e.g., Hospitals, Child Development Service Agencies, Health Departments) in which they provide age appropriate, culturally sensitive emotional support, and resources for children and families.

Child life students take courses that will prepare them to work in a healthcare environment to help children and their families cope with illnesses, injuries, and other health related challenges. Students complete a semester long practicum within a healthcare setting prior to their final semester long internship under a Certified Child Life Specialist. Internships are crucial to future employment and are very competitive. Students are prepared to apply for internships nationally and upon graduation are eligible to sit for the certification exam to become a certified child life specialist (CCLS).

Admission Requirements

Acceptance into this major is on a competitive, space-available basis with admission each year prior to fall semester.

Students can declare this major once they have:

  • Completed a minimum of 45 semester hours that include the following courses with a minimum grade of B (3.0) or better: HDFS 2000, HDFS 2001, HDFS 2021, HDFS 3002, HDFS 3150 and NUTR 1000

Once the above criteria is met, an application packet with the following items must be submitted to the child life program coordinator no later than the last Friday of March each academic year:

  • completed application
  • typed one-page (double-spaced) statement of purpose regarding why you would like to be admitted to ECU’s child life program
  • two to three letters of recommendation from faculty outside the child life program
  • curriculum vitae or resume
  • official transcript of undergraduate work
  • two or three selected examples of writing assignments
  • documentation of a minimum of 50 volunteer hours and/or practicum hours working with children in a medical setting (ex. hospital, camp, clinic, etc.)

Program Requirements

Required Courses

Four Year Plan

Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA to enroll in the child life internship and earn a minimum grade of B (3.0) in the internship to graduate as a child life major. Child life internships are only available to students enrolled in a degree completion program.

Note: Completion of a BS degree with a major in child life does not include certification as a certified child life specialist (CCLS). The Association of Child Life Professionals oversees the administration of the certification examination. The Department of Human Development and Family Science will verify completion of degree requirements, but meeting other requirements for certification is the responsibility of each candidate.

Delivery Methods

This program is only offered in an on-campus, Face to Face format.

Institutional and Professional Licensure Disclosures for Enrolled and Prospective Students

ECU degree programs satisfy the professional licensure and/or certification requirements in North Carolina and prepare students to sit for these exams.  However, requirements in other states may be different.

If you are considering a degree program that may, would, could or potentially lead to a professional license and/or certification, please note that at this time ECU may or may not be able to advise whether a  program meets requirements outside of North Carolina.  Prior to enrolling in a degree program, please discuss this important topic with your program of interest.