MS in Child Life (Advanced Standing)

APU’s M.S. in Child Life program prepares men and women to become credentialed child life specialists, who help children and families navigate traumatic and challenging situations, especially medical crises.

The Advanced Standing option for the Master of Science in Child Life program is available for Certified Child Life Specialists who have a BA or BS degree, as well as individuals who have successfully completed the 600 required child life internship hours. To pursue the Advanced Standing option, you must provide proof of a Child Life Certificate from the Child Life Certification Commission (part of the Association of Child Life Professionals), or complete the Child Life Clinical Experience Verification Form (PDF).


PCLS 511Family Systems Theory and Applications3
PCLS 520Infants and Toddlers: Development and Interventions3
PCLS 512Theories and Practices of Grief and Loss3
PCLS 523Coping Strategies for Children Experiencing Stress and Trauma3
PCLS 524Adolescent Development and Interventions3
PCLS 527Supporting Children with Special Needs in the Healthcare System3
PCLS 531Ethics, Diversity and Professional Issues3
PCLS 532Child Life Administration and Leadership3
PCLS 551Research Methods and Statistical Analysis3
PCLS 552Thesis/Project Seminar3
Optional Electives 1
Total Units30

These courses may serve as electives for the MS in Child Life program, or be used as substitutes for required courses by students who enter the program with previous completed coursework that meets the student learning outcomes for required courses. Departmental permission is required for such a substitution.


University graduate admission and program-specific requirements must be met before an application is complete (see Admission to the University). Program-specific application requirements are available online.

International students should contact Graduate and Professional Admissions for application procedures.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this program shall be able to:
  1. Disciplinary Knowledge – Demonstrate theoretical and conceptual knowledge to apply Child Life practices.
  2. Critical thinking, scientific inquiry and effective communication – Able to examine and engage in scholarly inquiry and critical thinking, including evaluation and application of evidence based research relevant to child life practices and healthcare delivery system, as a basis to develop, implement and communicate effective interventions.
  3. Values and Ethics – Apply knowledge of child life operating principles, code of ethical responsibilities, standards of practice, respect and value for diversity, and factors impacting infants, children, youth and families.
  4. Application to Vocation – Develop professional identity demonstrating the ability to integrate and apply Child Life competencies learned in professional settings of practicum and internship.
  5. Faith integration – Articulate the intersection of Christian traditions with the Child Life profession using a Christian worldview to integrate faith, beliefs, values, ethics, and service in personal and professional life.