Teddy Bear Clinic

MS in HHP - Child LIfe (without thesis)

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MS in HHP without Thesis - Child Life (CL)

Reasons to come to Iowa for a Master’s degree in Child Life:

  • Our Child Life faculty members are credentialed. Credentialed faculty members are vital to the quality and integrity of the program because curricular components and students should be taught and mentored by credentialed and experienced faculty.
  • The proximity of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital means that there are opportunities to volunteer and work with pediatric patients in the hospital setting. 
  • Our program in Child Life has practicum arrangements with University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and several other agencies throughout Iowa.

Professionals in child life assist children and families in adjusting to the stress of serious illness and other challenging life events. Child life is a health-oriented profession dedicated to improving well-being and growth of children, emphasizing play and leisure activities to improve function in physical, emotional, social and cognitive domains. Child life specialists provide a variety of services designed to support families and to promote mastery of different experiences by children, particularly when the child is experiencing healthcare events. Because families are often a primary source of support for a sick child, Child life specialists may also provide care to the family by assisting in accurate information processing and supporting the family members and other caregivers. Child life specialists also perform an important role as educators for other medical staff and the general community regarding the specific issues and needs of children experiencing healthcare or other stressful life events. The Association of Child Life Professionals (formerly Child Life Council) began in 1998 to direct national, professional certification. It establishes coursework and internship requirements for certification. 

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The purpose of the graduate program is to prepare advanced practitioners in child life and to meet credentialing requirements for child life. The 36 semester hours required for the Master’s in Child Life (non-thesis) include: Twenty-seven semester hours represents the Child Life subprogram coursework, with another nine semester hours for a supervised internship of 600 contact hours with a Certified Child Life Specialist. The internship is also supervised by a certified faculty member. Students must write and pass comprehensive exams in three areas: child life, research, and applied treatment processes.

Graduates will be eligible to sit for the credentialing examination in child life. Student eligibility to sit for certification examinations results from: a) compliance with curriculum standards, b) successful completion of a carefully structured and supervised internship and c) delivery of both classes and the internship experience by credentialed faculty.

An undergraduate Grade Point Average of 3.00 or higher is required for admission. Admission pre-requisites include:

  1. Completion of pre-requisite coursework:
    1. Human Anatomy
    2. Medical Terminology
    3. Two Child Development Courses (focus on children 0-18)
  2. Strongly recommended—an introductory course in child life
  3. Verification of 100 hours of paid or volunteer experience in Child Life or in a pediatric setting.  Download verification form here
  4. Three letters of recommendation, with at least one from a Certified Child Life Specialist.

*Students who have not completed an introductory course in CL must audit Introduction to Child Life (TR:1077) during their first semester. For student applicants whose first language is not English, applications must be accompanied by TOEFL scores.

Financial Aid

All graduate students in the Department of Health and Human Physiology are eligible to apply for a limited number of teaching assistantships, awarded on a competitive basis. The child life department at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital also hires child life student assistants on a part-time basis.


UI Child Life in the News

Read about the Child Life Alternative Spring Break trip to Give Kids The World!
Nicklaus Children's Hospital Success Story: Leslie
Therapy Dogs Hard at Work at Cook Children's Medical Center
The amazing Child Life specialists at Children’s Hospital