Child Life Studies

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Graduate programs

Master of Science, Child Life Studies

Lindsey Murphy, Program Coordinator
Can be reached through the CEFS office, Hill Hall, Room 312; Phone 417-836-3262
LindseyMurphy@MissouriState.edu

Program description

The Master of Science in Child Life Studies prepares students to excel as Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) in healthcare and other settings by fully developing and enhancing the professional knowledge and skills necessary to provide effective child life services with children and their families who are experiencing stressful or traumatic situations.

The standard track prepares students to become practicing Certified Child Life Specialists who work to minimize the psychological stress and trauma that children and their families experience during stressful events. The coursework in the standard track incorporates the theoretical foundations of the child life profession and allows students to apply this theoretical knowledge into their practicum and child life internship students. Students learn developmentally appropriate techniques to minimize stress and anxiety, and enhance the coping skills of children and their families, including the benefits of therapeutic play, preparation and education, advocacy for patient- and family-centered care, and legacy building and bereavement support, and positive diversion during medical procedures.

The advanced track prepares students for greater professional responsibility as Certified Child Life Specialists, including the application of research into clinical practice, the role of mentor to colleagues, the attainment of healthcare leadership positions or the pursuit of doctoral studies. The coursework in the advanced track is designed to enhance students’ understanding of the research that supports child life practice and to facilitate students’ development of their own research initiatives within their practice as Certified Child Life Specialists.

Admission requirements

All candidates must meet the requirements for admission as a graduate student to Missouri State University and the child life studies graduate program.

Application deadlines. 

All application materials must be received by the following dates.

Summer/Fall semester = Feb. 15th

Spring semester = Oct. 15th

Advanced track admission requirements
  • Bachelor's degree with an emphasis or minor in child life or a bachelor’s degree and currently hold certification as a Child Life Specialist
  • Cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 or higher
  • Applicants for whom English is not their primary language are required to demonstrate graduate-level proficiency in English by either having achieved a score of 550 on the paper-based, or a comparable score of 79 on the IBT or internet- based TOEFL, or by other equivalent means.
Standard track admission requirements
  • Bachelor’s degree with no emphasis or minor in child life studies
  • Cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 or higher
  • Applicants for whom English is not their primary language are required to demonstrate graduate-level proficiency in English by either having achieved a score of 550 on the paper-based, or a comparable score of 79 on the IBT or internet- based TOEFL, or by other equivalent means.
  • Minimum of 100 documented volunteer hours working with children or youth in a health care facility
Advanced track application materials

In addition to the university graduate admission materials, the following application materials must also be submitted.

  • Child life studies graduate program application
  • Letter of intent, including background information about professional/volunteer experiences, professional goals and future plans, with 1,000 words or less
  • Résumé
  • Two confidential letters of recommendation: One from the academic setting (or someone that can speak to your ability to succeed in a graduate program) and one from the clinical setting (or someone that can speak to your ability with children and families).  Confidential letters of recommendation must be submitted within the GradCAS application system.
  • Copy of the certified child life specialist, a.k.a. CCLS, certificate, if applicable
Standard track application materials

In addition to the university graduate admission materials, the following application materials must also be submitted.

  • Child life studies graduate program application

  • Letter of intent, including background information about professional/volunteer experiences, professional goals, and future plans, with 1,000 words or less

  • Signed documentation of a minimum of 100 volunteer hours in a pediatric health care facility.  

  • Résumé

  • Two confidential letters of recommendation: One from the academic setting (or someone that can speak to your ability to succeed in a graduate program) and one from the clinical setting (or someone that can speak to your ability with children and families).  Confidential letters of recommendation must be submitted within the GradCAS application system.

Accelerated graduate program

The Master of Science in Child Life Studies accelerated graduate program provides exceptional Missouri State University undergraduate students with the opportunity to enroll in a combined baccalaureate and master's degree program.

Eligible child and family development, a.k.a. CFD, child life option majors may apply for preliminary acceptance into the child life studies graduate program. Once accepted, students will have the opportunity to take 12 hours of graduate-level child and family development coursework that could apply to both their undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Note: Only CFD 610 fulfills a required course for the accelerated graduate program. The three additional courses — CFD 657, 662 and 663 — can fulfill support electives for the accelerated graduate program.

Accelerated admission requirements

To be considered for admission, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Officially admitted into the Bachelor of Science child and family development, child life option, program
  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or higher
  • Completed or currently enrolled in CFD 354 Working with the Hospitalized Child with achievement of a B or higher
Accelerated admission procedure

Students are encouraged to apply to the Child Life Studies accelerated graduate program the semester prior to taking CFD 510, 557, 562 and 563. Before enrolling in courses to be counted for both undergraduate and graduate credit (i.e. mixed), an undergraduate student must be admitted into the accelerated graduate program and receive prior approval from the Graduate Program Director of Child Life Studies, the Childhood Education and Family Studies Department Head and the Dean of the Graduate College through the use of a mixed credit form.

A student will be fully admitted to the Graduate College upon the completion of the requirements for the baccalaureate degree, provided the student meets all other requirements for admission to the Graduate College. Acceptance into the program and all approvals must be completed prior to the end of the change of schedule period for the courses. See the Graduate College for further information.

Accelerated application materials

The following application materials must be submitted to the Graduate Program Director of Child Life Studies:

  1. Child life studies graduate program application
  2. Letter of intent, including background information about professional/volunteer experiences, professional goals, and future plans, with 1,000 words or less
  3. Résumé
Accelerated degree requirements

Students admitted into the accelerated graduate program will follow the Master of Science in child life studies advanced track degree plan. The following criteria must be successfully completed by the candidate before a degree will be granted.

  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 35 approved graduate hours with a minimum overall GPA of 3.00
  • Completion of 26–29 hours of required coursework

Degree requirements (35 or 44 hours)

Advanced track (35 hours)

The following criteria must be successfully completed by the candidate before a degree will be granted.

  • Coursework:  Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 35 approved graduate hours with a minimum overall GPA of 3.00.  Including completion of 26-29 hours of required coursework and 6-9 hours of support electives.  No more than 16 hours of 600-level coursework may be applied to the graduate degree.  
  • Research: Option 1 - Satisfactory completion of Evidence-based Practice (EBP) Statement or other non-thesis creative work facilitated through CLS 797.  Option 2 - Satisfactory completion of a thesis research project by a thesis committee. 
  • Comprehensive Examination:  A passing score on the comprehensive examination
  • Transfer Credit:  Candidates may transfer in no more than six credit hours.  All transfer credit must be an "A" or "B" grade status from an accredited college or university and approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator of Child Life Studies.
Course Title Credit Hours
CFD 610 Child Life Theory and Practice 3 hrs
CFD 750 Advanced Human Development Studies 3 hrs
CFD 761 Advanced Family Studies 3 hrs

ECE 675

OR

ECE 727

Working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Children and Families

OR

Children and Families in a Diverse Society

3 hrs
CLS 701 Introduction to Child Life Studies 1 hr
CLS 720 Trends and Issues in Child Life 3 hrs
CLS 790
or
CLS 795

Practicum in Child Life*
or
Child Life Internship**

3 hrs
or
6 hrs

CLS 794

OR

CLS 798

Evidence Based Practice Proposal

OR

Proposal Development for Child Life Thesis

1 hr

CFD 680

OR

SFR 780

Introduction to Research in Child and Family Development

OR

Educational Research Methodology

3 hrs

CLS 797 

OR

CLS 799

Evidence Based Practice Research 

OR

Thesis Research in Child Life

3 hrs
  Electives 6-9 hrs

*Students who register for CLS 790 (Practicum) will take 9 hours of electives.

**Students who register for CLS 795 (Internship) will take 6 hours of electives.

Students may choose to take additional practicum hours (CLS 791) or additional internship hours (CLS 796) to maintian full time status.

Supported electives
Course Title Credit Hours
CLS 705 Aspects of Childhood Illness and Disease 3 hrs
CLS 710 Childhood Death and Bereavement 3 hrs
CLS 715 Play and Therapeutic Intervention with lab 3 hrs
PSY 622 Physiologic Psychology 3 hrs 
PSY 711 Introductory Statistics for Education and Psychology 3 hrs
PSY 745 Statistics and Research Design 3 hrs
PSY 766 Psychopathology 3 hrs
PSY 767 Behavior Disorders of Childhood 3 hrs
CFD 600 Issues in Child and Family Development 3 hrs
CFD 662 Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect 3 hrs
CFD 663 Administration of Programs for Children and Families 3 hrs
CFD 657 Growth and Development: Middle Childhood to adolescence 3 hrs
CFD 705 Growth and Development: Infancy through Early Childhood 3 hrs
CFD 775 Parent and Child Relations 3 hrs
CFD 776 Advanced Studies in Infant Development 3 hrs
COM 705 Health Communication 3 hrs
SPE 730 Health, Functional, and Psychosocial Aspects of a Disability 2 hrs
CSD 669 Psycho-Social Implications of Being Deaf and Hard of Hearing 3 hrs
SWK 696 Health Literacy in the Human Services 3 hrs
SWK 750 Advanced Generalist Practice with Individuals 3 hrs
EDT 640 Technology Administration and Management 2 hrs
NUR 632 Rural Heath 3 hrs
NUR 703 Population Health: A Local to Global Perspectives 3 hrs
Standard track (44 hours)

The following criteria must be successfully completed by the candidate before a degree will be granted.

  • Coursework:  Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 44 approved graduate hours with a minimum overall GPA of 3.00.  Including completion of 35-38 hours of required coursework and 6-9 hours of support electives.  No more than 16 hours of 600-level coursework may be applied to the graduate degree.  
  • Research: Option 1 - Satisfactory completion of Evidence-based Practice (EBP) Statement or other non-thesis creative work facilitated through CLS 797.  Option 2 - Satisfactory completion of a thesis research project by a thesis committee. 
  • Comprehensive Examination:  A passing score on the comprehensive examination
  • Transfer Credit:  Candidates may transfer in no more than six credit hours.  All transfer credit must be an "A" or "B" grade status from an accredited college or university and approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator of Child Life Studies.

 

Course Title Credit Hours
CFD 761 Advanced Family Theory 3 hrs
CFD 610 Child Life Theory and Practice 3 hrs
CFD 657 Growth and Development: Middle Childhood to Adolescence  3 hrs 
CFD 705 Growth and Development: Infancy through Early Childhood  3 hrs 

ECE 675

OR

ECE 727

Working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Children and Familie

OR

Children and Families in a Diverse Society

3 hrs
CLS 701 Introduction to Child Life Studies 1 hr
CLS 705 Aspects of Illness and Disease 3 hrs
CLS 710 Childhood Death and Bereavement 3 hrs
CLS 715 Play and Therapeutic Intervention with lab 3 hrs
CLS 790
or
CLS 795

Practicum in Child Life*
or
Child Life Internship**

3 hrs
or
​​​​​​​
6 hrs

CLS 794

OR

CLS 798

Evidence Based Practice Proposal

OR

Proposal Development for Child Life Thesis

1 hr

CFD 680

OR

SFR 780

Introduction to Research in Child and Family Development

OR

Educational Research Methodology

3 hrs

CLS 797

OR

CLS 799

Evidence Based Practice Research

OR

Thesis Research in Child Life

3 hrs
  Supported Electives 6-9 hrs

*Students who register for CLS 790 (Practicum) will take 9 hours of electives.

**Students who register for CLS 795 (Internship) will take 6 hours of electives.

Students may choose to take additional practicum hours (CLS 791) or additional internship hours (CLS 796) to maintian full time status.

Supported electives
Course Title Credit Hours
CLS 720 Trends and Issues in Child Life   3 hrs
CLS 790 Practicum in Child Life (Research and Field Experience) 3 hrs
PSY 622 Physiologic Psychology 3 hrs 
PSY 711 Introductory Statistics for Education and Psychology 3 hrs
PSY 745 Statistics and Research Design 3 hrs
PSY 766 Psychopathology 3 hrs
PSY 767 Behavior Disorders of Childhood 3 hrs
CFD 600 Issues in Child and Family Development 3 hrs
CFD 662 Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect 3 hrs
CFD 663 Administration of Programs for Children and Families 3 hrs
CFD 750 Advanced Human Development Studies 3 hrs
CFD 775 Parent and Child Relations 3 hrs
CFD 776 Advanced Studies in Infant Development 3 hrs
COM 604 Health Communication and Culture 3 hrs
COM 608 Patient-Provider Communication 3 hrs
COM 705 Health Communication 3 hrs
SPE 730 Health, Functional, and Psychosocial Aspects of a Disability 2 hrs
CSD 669 Psycho-Social Implications of Being Deaf and Hard of Hearing 3 hrs
SWK 696 Health Literacy in the Human Services 3 hrs
SWK 750 Advanced Generalist Practice with Individuals 3 hrs
EDT 640 Technology Administration and Management 2 hrs
NUR 632 Rural Heath 3 hrs
NUR 703 Population Health: A Local to Global Perspectives 3 hrs
Comprehensive examination

A comprehensive examination must be passed by the candidate before a degree will be granted.