Child Life

Students trained in the Bachelor of Arts in Child Life Specialist program are educated to help families and children thrive during life’s most stressful events. The profession’s emphasis on child development and healthy family coping skills promotes survival and persistence through play, education and self-expression. Child Life Specialists are called upon to provide support for children and their families facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. These highly skilled specialists work at the intersection of education, medicine, and human services to meet the individualized needs of each child and family and to advocate on their behalf.  Child Life Specialists are often needed in emergency departments, intensive care units, special needs camps, children's hospitals, and in a range of specialty health and medical practices. University of Michigan-Dearborn graduates are fully prepared to become Certified Child’s Life Specialists (CCLS) as determined by the Association of Child Life Professionals.

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
  • Develop tailored interventions for children and their families that promote learning, mastery, coping, and normalization
  • Develop an understanding of the unique problems and experiences face by particular subpopulations of children and families

Dearborn Discovery Core Requirement

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


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
COMP 105Writing & Rhetoric I3
COMP 280Business Writing & Rhetoric3
MATH 104College Algebra4
BIOL 103Anatomy and Physiology I4
BIOL 105Anatomy and Physiology IIA4
SOC 200Understanding Society3
Contemporary Social Problems
PHIL 200The Human Condition3
Critical Thinking
Total Credit Hours20

Core Requirements

Course List
COMP 105 Writing & Rhetoric I 3
COMP 280 Business Writing & Rhetoric 3
MATH 104 College Algebra 4
BIOL 103 Anatomy and Physiology I 4
BIOL 105 Anatomy and Physiology IIA 4
SOC 200 Understanding Society 3
Contemporary Social Problems  
PHIL 200 The Human Condition 3
Critical Thinking  
Total Credit Hours 20

Major Requirements 

Major (41-44 credit hours)
HHS 200Introduction to Public Health3
CLS 4013
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