Child Life and Family Centered Care
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Office of Graduate Admissions
Since becoming the first college in the United States to institute an educational program in Child Life, Wheelock College has earned a national reputation as a premiere program for the preparation of Child Life specialists.
Our innovative Child Life and Family Centered Care program prepares students to work as Child Life Specialists and child health and development specialists in a variety of healthcare settings. The program includes clinical experiences and course work that prepare students to support the psychosocial and developmental needs of children of different ages, cultures, and medical conditions, as well as the needs of their families.
Through Wheelock's unique internship program and thanks to our location in the heart of Boston's Longwood Medical Area, we can offer Child Life students opportunities for highly coveted internships at internationally-renowned medical facilities.
The Child Life Program at Wheelock
The master's program in Child Life is a cohort-based program. Students begin and usually complete their program together, developing strong bonds as professional, academic, and personal experiences are shared. Students develop child life skills and learn to work as members of an interdisciplinary healthcare team.
Applicants to the Child Life and Family Centered Care program can apply to one of three tracks:
- Child Life and Family Centered Care (39 credits)
Designed to train students for entry level positions as child life specialists and prepare them to sit for the Child Life Council certification examination.
- Child Life and Family Centered Care: Advanced Standing (36 credits)
Appropriate for students who are already eligible for certification as child life specialists. This program offers opportunities for students to enhance their child life skills.
- Child Life and Family Centered Care: Combined Degree (for Wheelock alumni) (27 credits)
The combined degree track is designed for alumni of Wheelock's undergraduate Child Life concentration. Students who enter this program receive 12 credits for their undergraduate coursework.
Certification in Child Life
Upon completion of the Child Life and Family Centered Care program students are eligible to sit for the Child Life Certification Examination.
The clinical internship in Child Life allows students to explore and develop a professional understanding of the roles of the child life specialist. The experience offers students the chance to connect theory and real-world practice, through the support of faculty advisors and field practitioners. Internship sites include pediatric inpatient, outpatient and community health care settings.
Throughout each internship, students work closely with faculty advisors and field practitioners to gain direct experience with a wide variety of children and families while engaged in coursework that provides valuable opportunities to connect Child Life theory and practice. The number of hours spent in internships varies based on the program in which students enroll.
- Child Life and Family Centered Care
Those enrolled in the track preparing entry level professionals complete two internships, one 400 hour and one 200 hour.
- Child Life and Family Centered Care: Advanced Standing
Students must complete a required 200-hour internship, and may elect to do an additional 200-hour internship.
- Child Life and Family Centered Care: Combined Degree
Students complete a required 200-hour internship, and many elect to do an additional 200 hour internship.
For more information, please visit the Field Experience web page.
Career Opportunities for Child Life Professionals
Many of the graduates of the Child Life and Family Centered Care program are currently working in highly-regarded hospitals and healthcare settings in Boston and the surrounding communities, in major children's hospitals, bereavement programs, early intervention programs, and community and specialty hospitals (inpatient units, outpatient clinics, hematology/oncology centers, specialty clinics and day surgery).
Outside of their jobs, a number of Wheelock alumni hold leadership positions in the Child Life Council. Alumni of this program are highly sought after locally, regionally, and nationally.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Am I paid for my internship?
A: No, the internships are not paid positions.
Q: Will I be able to use my current job as a placement opportunity?
A: In rare instances students can use their current job as their internship. Students must discuss this with the program coordinator or faculty advisor.
Q: Can I begin this program in any semester?
A: We admit students for the summer and fall semesters. The program is a cohort model, allowing students to begin together and take introductory coursework that is required prior to beginning internships.
Q: What is the deadline for application?
A: March 1.
Q: Do I need to be a full-time student to participate in this program?
A: Students may enroll in the programs as a full-time or part-time student.
Q: Do I need prior experience to qualify for admission to this program?
A: Applicants must perform at least 100 hours of volunteer work in a pediatric healthcare setting under the supervision of a child life specialist before beginning this program*. You must submit evidence of having completed a minimum of 50 hours of the volunteer work and the projected completion by the application deadline (March 1st). The 100 hours must be completed prior to being admitted to this program.
*Applicants to the Advanced Standing or Combined Degree tracks often do not need to complete volunteer hours because their previous internships or work experience will suffice. Check with the Office of Graduate Admissions to see if you qualify for a waiver of the volunteer hours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 617-879-1114.
Q: What if I am already eligible for or have taken the Child Life Certification exam?
A: Applicants who have already taken the certification exam, or who are eligible to take the exam, should apply for admission to the Advanced Standing program, or the Combined Degree program if they are an undergraduate student at Wheelock with a concentration in Child Life.
Q: Do I have to interview for admission to the program?
A: Yes, interviews will be scheduled in the weeks after the March 1st application deadline. Informational interviews to learn more about the Child Life profession and this program can be scheduled at any time during the application process. To schedule an interview with a faculty member, email the Office of Graduate Admissions at email@example.com.