BS in Human Development and Family Science with Emphasis in Child Life Specialist

Degree Program Description

The Child Life Specialist emphasis prepares students to support child development and family coping within the context of pediatric illness, injury, medical treatment, and grief in a variety of health care and community settings. Child life specialists use therapeutic play, psychological preparation, and coping skills interventions to help reduce the anxiety and stress related to illness, disability, hospitalization and medical procedures. Through a family-centered care approach, they provide parents and other family members reassurance and emotional support, help them understand psychosocial needs, and provide tools to help them prevent or minimize psychological trauma. Courses focus on understanding normal and exceptional child and family development, effective methods of working with children and families, as well as integration of theory and research into hands-on clinical practice experiences. In addition to a 100-hour practicum experience (selection is on a competitive, space-available basis) at MU’s Children’s Hospital, the student’s last semester is spent off-campus completing a 600-hour, unpaid clinical internship in a pediatric hospital setting. Students who successfully complete the degree program are eligible to take the Child Life Professional Certification Exam presented by the Child Life Certification Commission (CLCC).

Major Program Requirements

This academic emphasis requires that students successfully complete child life volunteer, practicum, and clinical internship experiences to attain this degree, as well as be eligible to take the Child Life Professional Certification Examination to obtain the CCLS credential after graduation. Clinical education sites require that students provide proof of health insurance, up-to-date immunizations, and student professional liability insurance. Students must also pass mandatory drug screens, criminal background checks, and any other required qualification checks prior to beginning any clinical education experience in child life. Failure to provide appropriate documentation, or pass drug screens and criminal background checks prior to the beginning of these experiences may necessitate dismissal from the child life emphasis in HDFS. The student is responsible for all costs incurred with these qualification checks.

Students must complete all university requirements, including general education, in addition to the degree requirements below, and must achieve a grade of C (2.0) in all HDFS courses taken to meet degree requirements.

A. Requirements in HDFS74-77
H_D_FS 1600Foundations of Family Science 13
H_D_FS 2200Research Methods in Human Development and Family Science 23
H_D_FS 2250Child Life Volunteer Experience 31
H_D_FS 2300Multicultural Study of Children and Families3
H_D_FS 2400WPrinciples of Human Development - Writing Intensive4
H_D_FS 3050Child Development: Birth to 3 (Infant/Toddler)3
H_D_FS 3150WChild Development 4-8 (Early Childhood) - Writing Intensive3
H_D_FS 3430Adolescence and Young Adulthood3
H_D_FS 3500Infant-Toddler Practicum6
H_D_FS 3600Partnering with Parents and Families3
H_D_FS 3700Preschool Practicum6
H_D_FS 3800Children's Play3
H_D_FS 4100Children in Healthcare Settings3
H_D_FS 4110Child Life Theory and Practice3
H_D_FS 4130Child Life Practicum 43
H_D_FS 4400Childhood Death and Bereavement3
H_D_FS 4700Children and Families in Poverty3
or H_D_FS 4720 Child and Family Advocacy
Supporting Coursework - See advisor for list of course options3-6
H_D_FS 4993Internship in Human Development and Family Science 515
B. Requirements in Related Areas15
CDS 2190Medical Terminology3
COMMUN 1200Public Speaking3
or COMMUN 3571 Group Decision Making Processes
or COMMUN 3575 Business and Professional Communication
FINPLN 2183Personal and Family Finance3
NEP 1034Introduction to Human Nutrition3
PHIL 2440Medical Ethics 63
or PHIL 1150 Introductory Bioethics
or PHIL 2400 Ethics and the Professions
PSYCH 1000General Psychology3
PTH_AS 2201Human Anatomy Lecture3
PTH_AS 2203Human Anatomy Laboratory2
SOCIOL 1000Introduction to Sociology3

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Semester Plan

Below is a sample plan of study, semester by semester.  A student's actual plan may vary based on course choices where options are available.

First Year
ENGLSH 10003H_D_FS 23003
General Elective1H_D_FS 2400W4
H_D_FS 16003SOCIOL 10003
Math Pathway3History or Political Science3
PSYCH 10003Gen Ed PHYS or MATH Science1-3
 13 14-16
Second Year
COMMUN 12003CDS 21903
H_D_FS 22501H_D_FS 22003
H_D_FS 30503H_D_FS 3150W3
NEP 10343H_D_FS 35006
PTH_AS 22013PTH_AS 22032
 16 17
Third Year
H_D_FS 37006H_D_FS 34303
H_D_FS 38003H_D_FS 41103
H_D_FS 41003H_D_FS 41303
PHIL 24403H_D_FS 44003
 H_D_FS 4700 or 47203
 15 15
Fourth Year
FINPLN 21833H_D_FS 499315
H_D_FS 36003 
Supporting Coursework3 
Supporting Coursework3 
Supporting Coursework/General Elective1-3 
 13-15 15
Total Credits: 118-122

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Degree Audit

The degree audit is an automated report reflecting a student’s academic progress toward the completion of a degree.  Degree Audits are not available for all programs; however, please consult with the appropriate college or school for audit information.

MU students can request a degree audit by logging in to myDegreePlanner.  Students may also access myDegreePlanner via myZou, in the Student Center, by clicking on the Request Degree Audit link. The audit automatically pulls in the student’s MU course work, transfer courses and courses in progress.  This is available to current students, admitted students, and those who last attended less than three terms ago.

Past MU students can request a degree audit by contacting the Academic Advising Unit of the division in which they were last enrolled at MU. For contact information, go to

Prospective students, can access a preliminary MU degree audit via Information on the college credits already earned will have to be manually entered before it can be evaluated against current degree requirements.

For additional details on degree audits, go to

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Major and Career Exploration

The University of Missouri has many resources to assist you in exploring majors and career possibilities.  For guidance, visit the Majors and Careers website or view specific resources below.

  • If you are considering a change of major or are exploring multiple majors, schedule an appointment with an advisor in the Discovery Center by calling (573)884-9700 or through MU Connect Discovery Center service in you success network.

  • If you have decided on a major, visit an academic advisor in the School or College that you are interested in to discuss the process of declaring the major

  • If you would like to learn more about your career interests, abilities, values and talents, visit the MU Career Center.  No Appointment is necessary to explore career options with one of our staff members.

For additional major and career exploration resources, visit Major & Career Exploration in the catalog.

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