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Academic Programs

Child Life (Online)


  • Program Overview

    Learn to support children, youth, and their families who are experiencing illness, surgery, trauma, injuries, and disabilities, in healthcare and community settings.

    In our Child Life program, you will learn to be an advocate as you provide family-centered care in a variety of settings. Coursework and fieldwork will prepare you to:

    • Provide therapeutic play opportunities in health care and community settings.
    • Teach about and support children, youth, and their families with illness, injury, and trauma.
    • Develop strategies to minimize stress and anxiety during stressful events.
    • Create opportunities that strengthen self-esteem and independence for children, youth, and families.
    • Learn from classmates and from our faculty, who are all Certified Child Life Specialists with years of experience working in the field.

    We are a fully online program dedicated to the principle that learning occurs in the context of meaningful relationships. Your student experience will include a range of interactions that support collaborative and hands-on learning.

    This program culminates in a Master of Science and requires 42 credits.


    Did you know we also offer a Child Life Advanced Standing Program? This program is designed for Certified Child Life Specialists who are seeking a master’s degree and who want to strengthen their knowledge and practice. 


    Child playing "doctor" with a graduate student

    ACLP Endorsed

  • Admissions Requirements

    In addition to the main admissions criteria, there are additional requirements needed to apply for this program:

    • Applicants for this program must have completed a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate experience working with children. Bank Street students enrolled in the Child Life program must have completed documented paid or volunteer hours with both well and sick children prior to applying for their practicums or internships. One hundred of these hours must be in a healthcare setting. There is no  minimum number of hours required outside a healthcare setting. Examples include, but are not limited to, volunteering in a hospital, programs for children with medical diagnoses, child life pre-internship experiences, volunteering at hospice sites, and paid work experience in a hospital setting.
    • Two letters of recommendation—one should be from a professional reference who has directly observed you working with children. 
    • 3.0 GPA or higher.

    You will be asked to use a range of technological tools as part of your online program. You must have a dedicated computer or tablet and stable Internet access. You will be expected to become familiar with the online tools, reach out to ask for support as you navigate the technology, and strengthen your presence and skill set in the online environment.

  • Coursework

  • Supervised Fieldwork/Advisement

    Internships & Advisement

    During the semester of supervised fieldwork/advisement, students are interns in child life health care settings where they are mentored by a Bank Street advisor and supervised by Certified Child Life Specialists in their fieldwork placement. Supervised fieldwork students participate in a weekly synchronous online conference group and ongoing advisement, which are instrumental in supporting professional growth and development during their internship.


    Securing an Approved Internship Position

    All child life students are required to secure an internship position in a clinical setting in order to receive certification and a master’s degree. Internships are primarily full-time for one semester. To gain this highly competitive position, child life students are strongly encouraged to apply to a minimum of ten internship placements. Each student must be interviewed for and accepted into a setting that meets Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) standards of practice. Students are expected to apply for their internship the second September after their date of matriculation and must secure, begin and successfully complete an internship no later than the end of the 3rd fall semester after their date of matriculation. Students must accumulate a total of 600 hours in this setting by the completion of their internship. Students who are unable to meet this requirement will be unable to complete the certification track.

    Students who complete their internship in Maryland are subject to Education Article, 11-202.2(c)5, Annotated Code of Maryland

  • Career Opportunities

    Your degree will provide you with a range of career opportunities, including:

    • Child life and creative arts programs in hospitals, clinics, and other health care settings.
    • Child advocacy and family support in child protective services or adoption agencies.
    • Community programs
    • Private practice
  • Faculty

  • Certification

    Upon successful completion of our child life master’s degree, graduates will have satisfied the course and internship requirements and will be prepared to take the certification examination administered by the Association of Child Life Professionals at selected locations.

    For more information, contact the Association of Child Life Professionals at (301) 881-7090 or

    ACLP Endorsed

The advisory aspect of the fieldwork was very helpful and felt very personal even though [the program is] online. I felt the presence, guidance, and support from my peers and advisor.
Jessica Torres, GSE ’19
Hear Jamie Baretta, 2013 graduate of Bank Street Graduate School of Education's Child Life Program, in a podcast on

Alumni Spotlight: Jami Barretta

Child Life alum Jami Barretta, GSE ’13, was featured in a Slate podcast about her important work at NYU Langone’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital in helping children and families cope with hospital stays.

Listen to the Podcast

Student Spotlight: Jackie Shanley

Jackie Shanley, GSE ’24, recently accepted her first job as a child life specialist at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx. As a graduate student in Bank Street’s Child Life Program, she completed her internship at Seacrest Studios at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, which provides pediatric patients an opportunity to learn firsthand about the creative realms of radio, television, and new media.