Child Life Studies

Graduate programs

Master of Science, Child Life Studies

Brittany Wittenberg, Program Coordinator
Hill Hall, Room 121; Phone 417-836-3262
BMWittenberg@MissouriState.edu

Program description

The Master of Science in Child Life Studies prepares students to excel as Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) in healthcare settings by fully developing and enhancing the professional knowledge and skills necessary to provide effective child life services with children who have chronic or acute illnesses and injuries, and their families.

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 a healthcare encounter. 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 practice as lab students, practicum students and child life interns. 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 for medical procedures, advocacy for patient- and family-centered care, 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 to the Graduate College, as stated in the Admission to Graduate Study section of the Graduate Catalog, and the Child Life Studies graduate program.

Advanced track program admission requires the following minimum requirements:

  1. A 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.
  2. A cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 or higher.
  3. A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) COMBINED score (Verbal and Quantitative) of 290 or higher with results from the GRE provided prior to the student’s registration for more than 9 hours.
  4. 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 program admission requires the following minimum requirements:

  1. A bachelor’s degree with no emphasis or minor in Child Life Studies.
  2. A cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 or higher.
  3. A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) COMBINED score (Verbal and Quantitative) of 290 or higher with results from the GRE provided prior to the student’s registration for more than 9 hours.
  4. 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.
  5. A minimum of 100 documented volunteer hours working with children or youth in a health care facility.
  6. Any necessary undergraduate prerequisites for graduate coursework.
Program admission procedure

Once application materials have been submitted to the Graduate College, the following application materials must be submitted to the Graduate Program Director of Child Life Studies. 

  1.  A Child Life Studies graduate program application.
  2. A letter of intent, including background information about professional/volunteer experiences, professional goals, and future plans (1,000 word limit).
  3.  A resumé.
  4.  Two confidential letters of recommendation:  One from the academic setting and one fron the clinical setting.  Confidential letters of recommendaton must be sealed and signed by the recommender or submitted directly from the email address of the recommender.  (Student cannot forward an email with a letter of recommendation).
  5. A copy of the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) certificate, if applicable.

Standard track application materials

  1.  A Child Life Studies graduate program application.

  2. A letter of intent, including background information about professional/volunteer experiences, professional goals, and future plans (1,000-word limit).  

  3.  100 documented hours of pediatric hospital experience: Students are required to provide documentation of at least 100 hours of experience with pediatric patients in a hospital environment. Documentation should be from the hospital(s) where hours were completed and include the dates and total number of hours completed.

  4.  A resumé.  

  5.  Two confidential letters of recommendation: One from the academic setting and one from the clinical setting. Confidential letters of recommendation must be sealed and signed by the recommender or submitted directly from the email address of the recommender. (Students cannot forward an email with a letter of recommendation).  

  6. Completion of any required prerequisite courses or permission from the Graduate Program Director of Child Life Studies.

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 (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 (CFD) 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.

Admission requirements

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

  • Officially admitted into the Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development–Child Life Option
  • A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or higher
  • Completed or currently enrolled in CFD 354–Working with the Hospitalized Child and achievement of a B or higher in CFD 354

Accelerated Program admission procedure

Students are encouraged to apply to the Child Life Studies accelerated graduate program the semester prior to taking CFD 510, CFD 557, CFD 562 and CFD 563. Before enrolling in courses to be counted for both undergraduate and graduate (i.e., mixed) credit, 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 course(s). 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. A Child Life Studies graduate program application
  2. A letter of intent, including background information about professional/volunteer experiences, professional goals, and future plans (1,000-word limit)
  3. A resumé
  1. Two confidential letters of recommendation: One from the academic setting and one from the clinical setting. Confidential letters of recommendation must be sealed and signed by the recommender or submitted directly from the email address of the recommender. (Students cannot forward an email with a letter of recommendation).

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 34 approved graduate hours with a minimum overall GPA of 3.00
    • Completion of 25–28 hours of required coursework

Degree requirements (34 or 43 hours)

Advanced Track – 34 hours

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

  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 34 approved graduate hours with a minimum overall GPA of 3.00
    • Completion of 25–28 hours of required coursework
    • Completion of 6–9 hours of support electives
  • No more than 16 hours of 600-level course work may be applied to the graduate program
  • Satisfactory completion of a master’s thesis by thesis committee
  • A passing score on the comprehensive examination
  • Candidates may transfer in no more than six credit hours which must be approved by the Graduate Program Director of Child Life Studies.

 

CourseTitleCredit Hours
CFD 610 Child Life Theory & Practice 3 hrs
CFD 750 Advanced Human Development Studies 3 hrs
CFD 761 Advanced Family Theory 3 hrs
ECE 727 Children and Families in a Diverse Society 3 hrs
CLS 720 Trends and Issues in Child Life 3 hrs
CLS 790
OR
CLS 795
Practicum in Child Life*

Child Life Internship**
3 hrs

6 hrs
CLS 798 Proposal Development for Child Life Thesis 1 hr
SFR 780 Educational Research Methodology 3 hrs
CLS 799 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.

Supported electives:

CourseTitleCredit Hours
CLS 705 Aspects of Illness and Disease 3 hrs
CLS 710 Childhood Death & Bereavement 3 hrs
CLS 715 Play & Therapeutic Intervention with lab 3 hrs
PSY 622 Physiologic Psychology 3 hrs 
PSY 711 Introductory Statistics for Education & Psychology 3 hrs
PSY 745 Statistics & Research Design 3 hrs
PSY 767 Psychopathology 3 hrs
CFD 600 Issues in Child and Family Development 3 hrs
CFD 662 Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect 3 hrs
CFD 663 Administration of Programs for Children & Families 3 hrs
CFD 657 Growth & Development:  Middle Childhood-Adolescence 3 hrs
CFD 705 Growth & Development: Infancy-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, Function, & Psychosocial Aspects of a Disability 2 hrs
CSD 669 Health Literacy in the Human Services 3 hrs
SWK 696 Health Literacy in the Human Services 3 hrs
SWK 750 Human Behavior & Family Systems 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 Program – 43 hours

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

  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 43 approved hours of graduate coursework with a minimum overall GPA of 3.00
    • Completion of 34–37 hours of required coursework
    • Completion of 6–9 hours of support electives
  • No more than 16 hours of 600-level course work may be applied to the graduate program
  • Satisfactory completion of a master’s thesis by thesis committee
  • A passing score on the comprehensive examination
  • Candidates may transfer in no more than six credit hours which must be approved by the Graduate Program Director of Child Life Studies.
CourseTitleCredit Hours
CFD 761 Advanced Family Theory 3 hrs
CFD 610 Child Life Theory & Practice 3 hrs
CFD 657 Growth & Development:  Middle Childhood-Adolescence  3 hrs 
CFD 705 Growth & Development:  Infancy -Early Childhood  3 hrs 
CLS 705 Aspects of Illness and Disease 3 hrs
CLS 710 Childhood Death and Bereavement 3 hrs
CLS 715 Play & 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 798 Proposal Development for Child Life Thesis 1 hr
SFR 780 Educational Research Methodology 3 hrs
CLS 799 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.

Supported electives:

CourseTitleCredit Hours
CLS 720 Trends & Issues in Child Life   3 hrs
CLS 790 Practicum in Child Life (Research & Field Experience) 3 hrs
PSY 622 Physiologic Psychology 3 hrs 
PSY 711 Introductory Statistics for Education & Psychology 3 hrs
PSY 745 Statistics & Research Design 3 hrs
PSY 766 Psychopathology 3 hrs
PSY 767 Psychopathology 3 hrs
CFD 600 Issues in Child and Family Development 3 hrs
CFD 662 Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect 3 hrs
CFD 663 Administration of Programs for Children & 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
ECE 727 Children & Families in a Diverse Society 3 hrs
COM 604 Health Communication & Culture 3 hrs
COM 608 Patient-Provider Communication 3 hrs
COM 705 Health Communication 3 hrs
SPE 730 Health, Function, & Psychosocial Aspects of a Disability 2 hrs
CSD 669 Health Literacy in the Human Services 3 hrs
SWK 696 Health Literacy in the Human Services 3 hrs
SWK 750 Human Behavior & Family Systems 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.