Child Life Specialty

Child Life Specialists are professionals who address the developmental impact of illness, injury, and major life transitions on children and families. These professionals improve patient and family care, child outcomes, and children and families’ ability to navigate the challenges of pediatric illness. This concentration was designed to prepare students for the Child Life Specialty Certification exam administered by the Association of Child Life Professionals. Required coursework for this concentration addresses foundational knowledge in behavioral science, child and adolescent development, and family systems, as well as specialized knowledge pertaining to children’s health promotion and professional issues. The program culminates in two semester-long practica that provide students with direct experiences working with Certified Child Life Specialists in hospital settings.

Child Life Specialty

Introductory Course (3 hrs)

ABSC 100         Introduction to Applied Behavioral Science (3)


ABSC 101         Introduction to Applied Behavioral Science, Honors (3)

Core Knowledge Courses (10 hrs)

ABSC 304         Principles and Procedures of Behavior Modification and Therapy (3)

ABSC 308*        Research Methods and Applications (4)

ABSC 509         Contemporary Behavioral Science: Historical, Conceptual, and Comparative Foundations (3)

Required Concentration Courses (12 hrs)

ABSC 160*       Child Behavior and Development

ABSC 309*       Child Life: Introduction to Theory and Practice

ABSC 529^       Pediatric Health and Health Promotion

ABSC 626*       Adolescent Behavior and Development

Concentration Electives (6 hrs)

ABSC 349*       Therapeutic Benefits of Play

ABSC 350^       Behavioral Treatment for Children with Autism

ABSC 444^       Curriculum Development for Young Children

ABSC 469^       Special Topics

ABSC 486^       Issues in Parenting

ABSC 499         Directed Research in Child Development

ABSC 519*       Psychosocial Aspects of Death and Dying

ABSC 359*       Family Systems

ABSC 535^       Developmental Psychopathology

ABSC 632^       Advanced Child Behavior and Development

Practicum (6 hours)

This practicum requires a two-semester commitment (three credit hours each semester); three of which must be ABSC 683: Practicum inChild Life Specialty. The remaining three credit hours may be selected from ABSC 675 or ABSC 677.   Space may be limited, and enrollment may depend on the date of indication of interest.  Please note that a background check, a health screening, and proof of student/trainee professional liability insurance is required for practicum placements in hospital settings.

ABSC 683         Practicum in Child Life Specialty  (3 hours)


ABSC 675         Practicum in Infant-Toddler Care and Early Intervention 1 (3 hours)


ABSC 677         Practicum in Preschool Education and Intervention 1 (3 hours)

Faculty Members

Ric G. Steele

ACLP Certification Examination Eligibility

The courses listed with an * are required by the Association of Child Life Professional (ACLP)to sit for the Child Life Specialty Certification Exam. The ACLP also requires three additional “related” courses of the candidate’s choosing.  Courses listed with a ^ are recommended, but not required for these three related courses.  Students may elect to take other listed courses (instead of those required by ACLP) to complete the specialty area/major.  However, doing so may render the student ineligible to sit for the Certification Exam. In addition, the ACLP requires a 600-hour internship supervised by a Certified Child Life Specialist. The student must arrange for this internship outside of the degree requirements. 

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