Education in Child Life

The School of Social and Family Dynamics and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions (Recreation Therapy Program) offer several undergraduate courses that provide you with the knowledge needed to pass the Child Life National Exam and to make you competitive for post-Bachelor Child Life Internships in health care settings.

For more information about Child Life, please see:

The academic requirements to become a Certified Child Life Specialist are highlighted with our courses that may meet requirements for eligibility to take the CCLS exam. We recommend students clarify academic requirements with the Association of Child Life Professionals before enrolling in courses.

Prerequisite courses may be needed to complete these requirements, and not all courses are offered every semester. Please refer to the ASU Catalog and Class Search to locate this information.

Child Life Course Taught by a CCLS

Provides a comprehensive introduction to family-centered care, psychosocial assessment of the hospitalized and chronically ill child, and techniques to support their coping. Utilizes the principles/theories of child development and introduces the role of a child-life specialist in the promotion of effective coping through play, preparation and education among children, youth and families facing challenges related to health care and hospitalization.

2 Child Development Courses

Lifespan development from conception through adulthood, with emphasis on family influences. Recognition of individuality within the universal pattern of development.

Discover the world of babies and toddlers. Learn about important changes in biological/physical, cognitive, emotional and social domains of development from conception to age three. Consider the influences of parents, family and environment.

Examines children's physical, social-emotional and neurological development across the elementary school years, as well as the socialization influences of primary people and contexts engaged with children during this developmental period.

In-depth examination of the developmental and social processes that help explain modern adolescence.

Family Systems Course

Examines the presentation, development and treatment of a wide range of neurodevelopmental, psychological, emotional and behavioral disorders of childhood. Applies family theories to understand the implications of these disorders for children and families.

Play Course

In-depth study of the philosophical concepts, principles and techniques of play and recreation applied in practice to promote holistic health and well-being among children, youth and families.

Loss/Bereavement or Death/Dying Course

Scientific and humanistic approaches to the study of death and dying from the perspective of anthropology and allied disciplines. Uses a global, comparative approach across space and time from the earliest human burials to contemporary funeral events.

1 Research Course

Students learn the fundamentals of how social research is conducted and use critical thinking skills to access, analyze, interpret and summarize research. Students gain an appreciation for the value of social research in our everyday lives. Explores both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Learn how to apply methodological approaches to social research questions. Learn to evaluate, interpret, synthesize, produce and present research.

3 Additional Courses

Terminology and essential concepts in human anatomy and physiology, as well as the structure and function of the human body. Designed for students in the health-related professions. Acquaints the student with human anatomy, structure and function, and basic disease concepts. Organizes and presents course concepts by organ systems, and the laboratory component of the course emphasizes human structure and function. The course has 3 contact hours for lecture and 2 contact hours for lab per week.

Overview of the fundamentals of therapeutic recreation. Introduces the delivery of treatment services for individuals with a variety of illnesses and disabling conditions experienced throughout the lifespan.

Examines therapeutic recreation leadership theory and strategies, current professional issues, and refinement of professional philosophy and competencies that enable transition from student to professional.

In-depth analysis of theoretical and philosophical approaches to therapeutic recreation practice with emphasis on various facilitation techniques used in therapy.

In-depth study of the therapeutic recreation assessment process, including examination of interview techniques, assessment instruments, treatment planning, outcomes, evaluation, research, and documentation.

If you are interested in a career in Child Life, we highly recommend that you major in Family and Human Development and earn the certificate in Recreation Therapy

For more information about Child Life, please see: