Child Life Specialist

Miami is one of only 2 universities in Ohio to offer the Child Life program at the undergraduate level.

Certified Child Life Specialists often work in pediatric hospitals but may also work in other spaces (e.g., courtrooms, funeral homes or bereavement services) where children may experience illness-related trauma. The field of Child Life is evidence-based, providing interventions (e.g., therapeutic play, education, self-care, stress reduction, distraction, etc) with children and families that are developmentally appropriate. As important members of a child’s care team, Child Life Specialists serve an important role in improving the illness-related experiences of both patients and their families.

Undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing certification as a Child Life Specialist should choose a major in Family Science with the Child Life Specialist concentration. The Child Life Specialist concentration builds on the Family Science core courses such that students take additional coursework in the concentration that is required for eligibility to take the Child Life Professional Certification Exam.

Courses Approved by the Association of Child Life Professionals

  • FSW 245: Children and Families: Ages Conception - 12 (3)
  • FSW 261: Diverse Family Systems Across the Life Cycle (3)
  • FSW 295: Research and Evaluation Methods (3)
  • FSW 318: Child Life Theory and Practice (3)
  • FSW 445/545: Therapeutic Play (3)
  • FSW 481/FSW 581: Adolescent Development in Diverse Families: Ages 13-25 (3)

Concentration Application/Admissions

To be admitted to this concentration:

  1.     Declare a Family Science major
  2.     Meet with the Child Life Specialist Academic Advisor, Dr. Elise Radina

NOTE: An additional application may also be required for admission into this concentration.

Register as a non degree seeking student

Certification Process

  1.     Bachelor’s Degree that includes required 10 courses.
  2.     Child Life Experience: Complete a minimum of 480 hours of a child life clinical experience under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist. Volunteer, practicum and paid work hours are not accepted. This experience is not included in the Family Science major with the Child Life Specialist concentration. Miami University does guarantee successful acceptance to these highly-competitive experiences but offers academic preparation and application assistance.  

(Source: Association of Child Life Professionals)

Additional Information

The Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) provides an Eligibility Assessment where candidates for certification can track their progress through the various requirements and will ultimately allow them to register for the certification exam.  Candidates will need to complete the above-outlined requirements before they are eligible to apply to be a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) from the ACLP. Upon successful completion of the certification exam, the CCLS credential is granted and candidates will continue to the path of maintaining your certification.

Go to to learn more about the certification exam and changes to be made for the requirements to be a CCLS within the next 8 years.