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

Degree Program Description

The Child Life Specialist emphasis area prepares graduates to provide for the socioemotional needs, and support the optimum growth and development of children and their families in a variety of health care 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 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 14 to 16 week clinical internship in a pediatric hospital setting. Students who successfully complete the degree program are prepared to take the Child Life Professional Certification Exam presented by the Child Life Certification Committee.

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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. 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 result in dismissal from the child life degree program 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.  All courses in sections A-B below are required. Students must achieve a grade of C (2.0) in all HDFS courses in order to graduate with an HDFS major.

A. Requirements in HDFS74-77
H_D_FS 1600Foundations of Family Science3
H_D_FS 2200Research Methods in Human Development and Family Science 43
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 4085Problems in Human Development and Family Science (Child Life Volunteering) 31
H_D_FS 4100Children in Healthcare Settings3
H_D_FS 4110Child Life Theory and Practice3
H_D_FS 4130Child Life Practicum 13
H_D_FS 4400Childhood Death and Bereavement3
H_D_FS 4720Child and Family Advocacy3
or H_D_FS 4700 Children and Families in Poverty
Supporting Coursework - See advisor for list of course options3-6
H_D_FS 4993Internship in Human Development and Family Science 215
B. Requirements in Related Areas15
PSYCH 1000General Psychology3
SOCIOL 1000Introduction to Sociology3
PHIL 2440Medical Ethics3
PTH_AS 2201Human Anatomy Lecture3
PTH_AS 2203Human Anatomy Laboratory2
CDS 2190Medical Terminology3
STAT 1200Introductory Statistical Reasoning3
or STAT 1300 Elementary Statistics
or STAT 1400 Elementary Statistics for Life Sciences
or ESC_PS 4170 Introduction to Applied Statistics

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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 10003BIO_SC 10103
GN_HES 11001H_D_FS 23003
PSYCH 10003H_D_FS 2400W4
H_D_FS 16003MATH 11003
Humanities3SOCIOL 10003
 13 16
Second Year
COMMUN 12003CDS 21903
H_D_FS 30503H_D_FS 22003
HIST or POL SC3H_D_FS 3150W3
H_D_FS 40851H_D_FS 35006
PTH_AS 22013PTH_AS 22032
 16 17
Third Year
FINPLN 21833H_D_FS 34303
H_D_FS 37006H_D_FS 41103
H_D_FS 41003H_D_FS 41303
NEP 10343H_D_FS 44003
 H_D_FS 4700 or 47203
 15 15
Fourth Year
H_D_FS 36003H_D_FS 499315
H_D_FS 38003 
PHIL 24403 
General Elective1 
Supporting Courseworik3 
 13 15
Total Credits: 120

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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 would like to learn more about your career interests, abilities, values and talents, visit the MU Career Center in the lower level of the Student Success 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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