Child Life Track

Students working with children

Helping children and families in crisis

Our Child Life Option prepares you to pursue a career as a child life specialist. Child life specialists work as members of the pediatric healthcare team who focus on the psychosocial needs of children by using play and developmentally appropriate communication to help reduce the stress of the healthcare experience for children and their families. In addition, this option area will prepare you to work in medical camps and grief support groups.

Four-Year Plan

This four year plan will show you an example schedule that will put you on track to your Child Life degree.


View our transfer plan to help continue your education with Missouri State.

Admission Requirements

  • Application Form
  • Child Life Essay: Typed, double-spaced essay of three pages or less addressing the following questions. (1) What is a child life specialist? (Please include foundational principles and values of the field) and (2) Why do you want to be a child life specialist? (More specific reasons than that you love children).
  • GPA > 3.0
  • 100 documented hours of pediatric hospital experience: Students are required to provide documentation of 100 hours of experience with pediatric patients in a hospital environment. Documentation should be from the hospital where hours were completed and include the dates and total number of hours completed.
  • Two letters of recommendation (one from hospital site): Students will provide two confidential letters of recommendation. One letter must be from the hospital supervisor where the student completed their hospital experience. The other letter must be from a non-family member and may address the student’s character and skills in working with children, or from a non-child life faculty member addressing the student’s ability to compete in a competitive academic program.
  • Completed or be currently enrolled in CFD 160 and CFD 260

Admission procedures

The Child Life Option is a selective admission program, separate from admission to the University or filing your degree program. It is recommended that you apply for the Child Life Option in the Spring of your sophomore year. Students should meet with their academic advisor prior to applying.

Applications for the Child Life Option are only accepted in the Spring semester for Fall admission.

Applications are due by midnight on February 1st. Applications will not be accepted if late.

 All materials can be submitted electronically via email, hand-delivered, or mailed in one packet.

  • Emailed to:
  • Hand-delivered to:
    Childhood Education and Family Studies Department Office, Hill Hall 312
  • Mailed to:
    Childhood Education and Family Studies Department Office
    Hill Hall 312
    Missouri State University
    901 S. National
    Springfield, MO 65897

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). Letters of recommendation can be submitted separately from the student’s application packet.

Required information

Students admitted to the Child Life Option will need to prepare to turn in proof of the following information:

  1. Copy of a government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license, Passport)
  2. Vaccination records, specifically:   
    1. TDaP vaccination within the last 10 years
    2. Two MMR vaccines after 13 months of age or serologic immunity
    3. Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine or serologic immunity
    4. Hepatitis B vaccine or serologic immunity (series of three)
  3. Two TB skin tests within last 12 months at least 3 weeks apart or T-spot blood test within last 12 months
  4. Missouri Family Care Safety Registry for students from the United States. Please register or update your registry. Students who have already registered need to review and update their contact information each semester.


    FBI background check for international students. See the Clearances Office in Hill Hall 200B for more information.

  5. Child Life-specific professional liability insurance: Child Life students are required to obtain Child Life-specific professional liability insurance prior to enrolling in the following courses: CFD 354 Working with the Hospitalized Child, CFD 454 Therapeutic Play, CFD 499 Child Life Practicum, and CFD 466 Internship in Programs for Children, Youth, Adults, and Families. Coverage must include $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 in aggregate.

Please follow the instructions to obtain Child Life-specific professional liability insurance:

  • Students can apply online at Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) and choose “child life specialist” for the profession or area of study. Note: A social security number is required for HPSO.
  • Students can contact Mercer Inc. (formerly Marsh) at 1-800-503-9230When setting up a policy, students may be required to enroll as either a rehabilitation therapist or child development/family services counselor. Once enrolled students can work with the insurers to have their policies amended to read "child life specialist." Note: A social security number is not required for Mercer Inc.