Dec 17, 2018  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog (as of 08-31-16) 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog (as of 08-31-16) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Child Life, M.S.

Susan Simonian, Program Director

Mission Statement

The Master of Science in Child Life Program provides graduate level instruction and clinical experience that prepares students to become Certified Child Life Specialists.  Advanced training in child life, child development, family systems, pediatric illness, and stress and coping allows student to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to provide state-of-the-art emotional support for children and families facing challenging events related to health care.  The program is centered on an evidence-based approach to family-centered-care, the promotion of optimal development of children facing challenging life experiences, play, and advocacy in the health care and community settings.

Program Description

Child life specialists (CLSs) are highly trained health care professionals who work with children and families facing chronic or episodic health care needs.  CLSs use their knowledge and training in development, play, stress and coping, and family systems, to promote adaptive coping with pediatric illness and injury.  They are critical members of the interdisciplinary pediatric health care team.  Through the MSCL program, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the medical issues and developmental and family factors impacting infant, child, and adolescent response to pediatric care.  

The MSCL program is founded on a longstanding professional collaboration between the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).  The program is intensive in terms of academic preparation, practical supervision, and close mentorship of students.  A cohort of 10 students is admitted each fall, and they progress though the program together as a group, taking a set curriculum. The MSCL program is a full-time program with two required summer classes between the first and second program years.

Students in the MSCL program learn to develop and initiate effective family-centered care intervention within the hospital and other community settings.  They gain skills to work effectively within multidisciplinary healthcare teams so as to provide optimal psychosocial care to patients and families.  Students will work with College of Charleston/University of Charleston South Carolina faculty and Medical University of South Carolina Certified Child Life Specialists in integrated coursework and practicum experiences.  They also will have the opportunity to learn to initiate and execute child life program development working with a network of community non-profit agencies that serve as program community partners.  Students apply for formal child life internship to be completed during the spring semester of the second program year.  Upon completion of the program, students will be prepared to take the national Child Life Council (Association of Child Life Specialists) Certification Examination.

Admissions Requirements

  • Personal statement, including a clear statement of educational and career goals.
  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree with minimum GPA of 2.750 overall and recommended GPA of at least 3.000 overall in last 60 credit hours of undergraduate coursework.
  • Recommended GPA of 3.000 in a major related to CL (child development, psychology, sociology, education).
  • Official transcript from all academic institutions.
  • Official GRE scores of at least: 153 verbal, 144 quantitative, and 4.0 analytical writing.
  • Three letters of recommendation preferably from academic sources.
  • Documented 100 hours of formal volunteer experience with children, preferably in a child life setting documented in writing by supervisor (a volunteer supervisor can provide one of the required letters of recommendation). Documentation form available on the MSCL program website.
  • Completion of at least 18 credit hours in courses related to infant child, and adolescent development, multicultural child and family issues, childhood medical conditions, health communication, developmental psychology, health, psychology, and/or child life theory.
    • Must include one course in Infant Child, Adolescent Development (Birth-18 years)
    • Recommended course in Medical Ethics
    • Recommended course in Anatomy and Physiology
  • TOEFL scores of at least: Writing=20; Speaking=23; Listening=17; Reading=21 if the student’s primary language is not English.
  • Interview upon Admission Committee invitation

Application Deadlines

  • Fall: January 15
  • Spring: No Spring Admission
  • Summer: No Summer Admission

Transfer Credit Policy

Students may seek approval from the MSCL Admissions Committee to transfer in 6 credit hours of graduate coursework from an accredited institution. These courses require a grade of B or higher, or a grade of Satisfactory or Pass.


Program Requirements
Student Learning Outcomes