Child Life and Family Centered Care Graduate Programs

Work from Our Students

Child Life Student Jennifer Ngyuen recently contributed a piece to the Huffington Post blog about the need for recess and the value of play in children's lives.

Read Jennifer's blog post.

Wheelock College and Boston University have reached an agreement to merge as of June 1, 2018 and we are no longer accepting new applications. As a prospective applicant to Wheelock College, we hope you will be interested in applying to Boston University.

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 these 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 Association of Child Life Professionals certification examination.
  • Child Life and Family Centered Care: Advanced Studies (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.

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. visit the Licensure web pages.

Internship Experience

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.

Students in the 39-credit master's program complete a 400-hour internship followed by a 200-hour internship the next semester. Students in the Advanced Standing Program do not need to complete an internship and can, instead, choose to focus in one of the many graduate certificate programs.

For more information, please visit the Field Education 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 Association of Child Life Professionals. Alumni of this program are highly sought after locally, regionally, and nationally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Am I paid for my internship?
No, the internships are not paid positions.

Q: Will I be able to use my current job as a placement opportunity?
No. The Association of Child Life Professionals does not allow students to count employment to meet internship requirements.

Q: Can I begin this program in any semester?
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: Do I need to be a full-time student to participate in this program?
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?
Students interested in the 39-credit program are required to complete 100 hours of volunteer experience in a pediatric inpatient setting prior to applying.

Q: What if I am already eligible for or have taken the Child Life Certification exam?
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.

Q: Do I have to interview for admission to the program?
Yes, interviews will be scheduled in the weeks after the 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. 

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