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Child Life Specialist Certificate

Miami is one of only 2 universities in Ohio to offer Child Life programs.

The Child Life Specialist certificate includes the coursework required for eligibility to take the Child Life Professional Certification Exam.

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.


Choose Your Path

Undergraduate Student Certificate

The Child Life Specialist Certificate is open to all current Miami undergraduate students from any major.

Course Requirements

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Apply understanding of child development from conception through young adulthood.
  • Demonstrate ability to read and understand social science research reports.
  • Understand the principles of Patient and Family-Centered Care, including principles of respect and dignity, information sharing, supporting participation in care, and collaboration between families and members of the health care team.
  • Demonstrate understanding of Therapeutic Play, including benefits of play, medical play, and specific modalities of play that are effective within the clinical setting.
  • Students will meet the eligibility requirements to apply academic knowledge in a professional setting in a 600-hour final internship.

Application Process

Students must apply for the child life undergraduate certificate in order for it to be added to their DAR.

The application process is selective but not competitive.

There is no deadline for application although students are encouraged to apply by November 1 of their junior year.

Child Life Certificate Application Requirements

  1. Personal Statement (300 words or fewer): 
    1. Why have you chosen to enter the field of Child Life? 
    2. What experiences do you have working with children?
  2. Resume or list of work/volunteer experiences with children with the number of hours completed in each position.


Contact for more info.

Graduate Student Certificate

This certificate is open to:

  • Current Miami master’s degree students.
  • Newly admitted Miami graduate students.
  • Students who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree at another university and need additional courses for child life certification.

Course Requirements

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Propose an age-appropriate intervention using their understanding of child development from age 12 through young adulthood.
  2. Critique social science research reports related.
  3. Create and present a technique for therapeutic play to be used by child life specialists.

Application Process and Requirements

  1. Personal Statement (300 words or fewer):
    1. Why have you chosen to enter the field of Child Life?
    2. What experiences do you have working with children?
  2. Official Transcript(s)
  3. Minimum GPA: 3.0
  4. Relevant Coursework: The Child Life certificate includes the following coursework. Please note courses you have taken at the undergraduate and graduate level (include CRNs and titles) that may fulfill any of these course requirements.
    • Child Life Theory and Practice (this course is specific, and would have been taught by a Child Life Professional)
    • Child Development 0-18 yrs (e.g., early, middle, or adolescent)
    • Family Systems
    • Play
    • Death/Dying or Loss/Bereavement
    • Research Methods

Dates and Deadlines

Applications are accepted at any time. Students are encouraged to apply by May 1 for fall admission, October 1 for spring admission, and February 1 for summer admission.

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Certification Process

  1. Bachelor’s Degree that includes required 10 courses.
  2. Child Life Experience
    • Complete a minimum of 600 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 not guarantee successful acceptance to these highly-competitive experiences but offers academic preparation and application assistance.  

(Source: Association of Child Life Professionals)

Hospitals Affiliated with Miami University

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.

Courses Approved by the ACLP

  • PSY 294: Writing and Research Methods (3)
  • KNH 295: Research and Evaluation Methods (3)
  • 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/SOC 435/535: Death Studies (3)
  • FSW 445/545: Therapeutic Play (3)
  • FSW 475/575: Family Theories (3)
  • FSW 481/FSW 581: Adolescent Development in Diverse Families: Ages 13-25 (3)
  • FSW 616: Graduate Social Work Research I

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.