Child Life Dual Degree Program

Why Child Life?

• Help children and families cope with illness, medical procedures, and loss
• Use play, emotional support, and teaching to reduce stress

Why Wheelock?

• Complete your bachelor's and master's degrees in an accelerated time frame
• Wheelock was the first college to offer a child life program and remains a national leader
• Instructors provide intensive on-site supervision during clinical internships

Children undergoing medical treatment have unique developmental, emotional, social, and educational needs, as do their families. Child Life specialists are specially trained members of healthcare teams who focus on addressing these needs. They work in a variety of settings, such as pediatric inpatient and outpatient units, emergency rooms, and intensive care.

Through this program, you'll develop expertise in helping children and families cope with acute and chronic illness, medical procedures, and grief and loss. You'll learn how the use of play, emotional support, and teaching can help reduce the stress of hospitalization, illness, and health care procedures in your patients.

Child Life Program Overview

Wheelock's unique program leads to both a bachelor's and a master's degree. Your bachelor's will be in one of our innovative arts and sciences majors, with a minor in Child Health, and your master's will be in Child Life and Family Centered Care.

This program requires a dual application process: First, to Wheelock's undergraduate program, and later, to the Child Life graduate program in your sophomore year. Admission to the program is highly selective, with only 12 students admitted yearly. Students not accepted into the dual-degree program may apply for admission into the regular graduate program in Child Life and Family Centered Care at the end of their senior year.


The program prepares you for the national examination to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). Wheelock graduates enjoy outstanding success in passing the exam, which qualifies you to practice in every U.S. state and internationally.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of Wheelock's Child Life program are in high demand for exciting and challenging positions in healthcare institutions across the United States.

Hands-On Experience

You'll complete more than 600 certified internship hours. Potential internship sites include:

  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • Boston Medical Center
  • Hasbro Children's Hospital
  • Massachusetts General Hospital for Children
  • Newton Wellesley Hospital

Sample Courses

  • Child Life Administration and Program Development
  • Child Life Methods and Materials
  • Clinical Issues in Child Life
  • Human Biology or Human Diseases
  • The Meaning and Development of Play

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