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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 minimizing 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 hand-on learning.

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


    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:

    • 100 hours of volunteer work in a Child Life setting.
    • A  letter from a CCLS.
    • 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.

    At this time, Bank Street is not able to accept applications for the 42 credit program, which includes an internship, from outside of the United States.

    Amended Volunteer Hour Policy for Fall 2022 Applicants:

    We understand that COVID-19 may have impacted your ability to secure volunteer hours at an approved site. Given this difficulty, we have made adjustments to our admissions requirement and will evaluate applicants who have a minimum of 80 hours in settings that include but are not limited to:

    • Experience with infants, children, youth, and/or families in healthcare settings (e.g., volunteer, practicum student)

    • Experience with infants, children, youth, and families in stressful situations (e.g., camps for children with chronic illnesses, programs for children with special needs, advocacy programs, bereavement/hospice experiences).

    To prove the 80 hours in these non-Child Life settings, we ask that you include documentation of this work that can come in the form of a letter of recommendation, printout of hours from an appropriate supervisor. Please also note the following:

    • You will still need to complete 100 hours of volunteer service in a Child Life setting before you can pursue a Child Life practicum and internship; it is a requirement of practicum and internship sites. Not completing this requirement may delay your time in the program.

    We need to get a sense of whether your volunteer experience was specifically for those under stressful situations vs. general programming that happens to provide accommodations. This is an important distinction under the amended policy. Examples of experiences that do NOT count toward these hours include general teaching experience at a school or working in an administrative capacity at an organization that caters to those with special needs (as opposed to working directly with children and families).

  • 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

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

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