Child Life

Students trained in the art of a child’s life are educated to help families and children thrive during life’s most stressful and challenging events. The profession’s emphasis on child development and healthy family coping skills promotes survival and persistence through play, education and self-expression. The importance of family and family support is recognized in the curriculm and promotes the provision of support and guidance for parents, siblings, family members and the child. Child’s life professionals combine both health and education skills by bridging the gap between families, administrators, caregivers, the general public and the child under stress. University of Michigan-Dearborn graduates are fully prepared to certify as Child’s Life specialists through the exam offered by the Child Life Council.

Program Goals

The overall goals of the Child Life Specialist major are to prepared students to:

  1. Prepare students with the knowledge and experience to improve the lives of children and families facing traumatic events
  2. Address the unique and important cultural dimensions of the metropolitan Detroit area.

Learning Outcomes

The degree in Child Life Specialist will provide a framework for students to:

  • Maintain professional and ethical standards of practice
  • Promote professional relationships with families, providers and community workers
  • Promote the understanding of the special needs of children and families among staff, students, volunteers and the community
  • Obtain and use the relevant information regarding developmental and psychosocial factors (e.g., health care, family and child) to inform a plan of care

Career Opportunities

Child’s Life Specialist professionals work to reduce the negative impact of stressful or traumatic life events for children and their families. Students train to promote effective coping through play, preparation, education and self-expression activities. Child’s Life Specialists are place in a broad range of work environments such as:

  • Emergency departments
  • Surgical and intensive care units
  • Special needs camps
  • Medical and dental practices


Prerequisites are ideally taken in the freshman and sophomore years when the student is fulfilling lower distribution requirements. These include:

CHE 101Intro to Health Education3
CHE 201Medical Terminology3
EDC 240Psych of Child Development3
EDC 241Psych: Child Devel Practicum1
Total Credit Hours10

Dearborn Discovery Core Requirement

The minimum passing grade for a Dearborn Discovery Core (DDC) course is 2.0. The minimum GPA for the program is 2.0. In addition, the DDC permits any approved course to satisfy up to three credit hours within three different categories. Please see the General Education Program: The Dearborn Discovery Core section for additional information.

Foundational Studies

Written and Oral Communication (GEWO) – 6 Credits

Upper Level Writing Intensive (GEWI) – 3 Credits

Quantitative Thinking and Problem Solving (GEQT) – 3 Credits

Critical and Creative Thinking (GECC) – 3 Credits

Areas of Inquiry

Natural Science (GENS) – 7 Credits

  • Lecture/Lab Science Course
  • Additional Science Course

Social and Behavioral Analysis (GESB) – 9 Credits

Humanities and the Arts (GEHA) – 6 Credits

Intersections (GEIN) – 6 Credits


Capstone (GECE) – 3 Credits

Major Requirements 

Major (41-44 credit hours)
HHS 200Introduction to Public Health3
CLS 401Hospitalized Child3
EDT 211Design Tech-Based Learn Solutn3
PSYC 300Life-Span Developmental Psych3
BA 300Career Planning & Develop1
EDC 412Social Devl/Pos Guidnce Techn3
EDC 414Early Child Ed Special Needs3
EDC 420Hum Sexuality:Psyc-Ed Concepts2
EDC 440The Child: Birth to Three3
SOC 445The Family3
EDF 450Hlth, Nutr, & PE/Clsrm Tchrs2
SOC 304Studies in Det.Hist. & Culture3
SOC 403Minority Groups3
SOC 447Family Violence3
ENST 326Anth of Health and Environment3
Electives (67 credit hours)
PSYC 440Abnormal Psychology3
SOC 350Poverty and Inequality3
SOC 411Program Evaluation3
or HHS 406 Program Evaluation
SOC 430Population Problems3
HPS 442Medical Ethics3
ENST 300Urban Geography3
ANTH 409Human Body, Growth & Health3
COMP 105Writing & Rhetoric I3
COMP 280Business Writing & Rhetoric3
BIOL 103Anatomy and Physiology I4
BIOL 105Anatomy and Physiology IIA4
SOC 200Understanding Society3
or SOC 201 Contemporary Social Problems
PHIL 200The Human Condition3
PHIL 233Critical Thinking3
PHIL 100Introduction to Philosophy3
PSYC 171Intro to Psych as a Soc Sci3
MATH 105Pre-Calculus4
CHEM 100Chemistry and Society4
GEOG 203Weather and Climate3
PHIL 240Ethics3
EDC 460Educating the Exceptional Chld3
POL 334Organizing and Leadership3

 Child Life Internship is required as part of the program and students should coordinate with the Program Director for their placement as the placement must meet specific requirements. 

CLS 401     Hospitalized Child     3 Credit Hours

This Hospitalized Child course is a requirement for those who would like to sit for Child Life Professional Certification Examination and become Certified Child Life Specialist. The course is taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist and focuses on children in the health care environment. Topics of study include: 1. Child Life documents, 2. Scope of practice, 3. Impact of illness, injury and health care on patients and families, 4. Family-centered care, 5. Therapeutic play and 6. Preparation. (W)

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior


An asterisk denotes that a course may be taken concurrently.

Frequency of Offering

The following abbreviations are used to denote the frequency of offering: (F) fall term; (W) winter term; (S) summer term; (F, W) fall and winter terms; (YR) once a year; (AY) alternating years; (OC) offered occasionally