The Benefits of Studying in an Endorsed Child Life Program

Working with children is a rewarding career path. By earning a master’s degree in child life at Azusa Pacific University, students learn how to support children and their families when they face challenging experiences, such as traumatic medical situations.

At APU, students gain the benefits of studying in a child life program that’s endorsed by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP). The ACLP evaluates the program’s structure, curriculum, resources, support system, and sustainability when it makes its decision on ACLP endorsement.

“APU’s M.S. in Child Life program is now one of 12 academic graduate programs in the nation endorsed by the ACLP,” said Charity Vasquez, M.S., CCLS, director of the Master of Science in Child Life program at APU. “As an endorsed program, students know our program offers coursework that meets ACLP’s rigorous certification requirements.”

That means APU students in the program can expect both solid academic preparation and meaningful hands-on experiences as part of their high-quality education in child life. During their studies, students are well prepared to apply for and take the certification exam so they can become a certified child life specialist. Additionally, they gain an important advantage: Students don’t need to have each of their courses reviewed—endorsed programs include all coursework requirements so students are eligible for their exams. (Students still need to complete an ACLP eligibility assessment.)

Valuable Experiential Learning Opportunities

Practicums and internships are important experiential learning opportunities for students preparing for a career working with children and families. Through these offerings, you can learn more about evidence-based, developmentally appropriate interventions such as therapeutic play. You can also expand on your techniques for reducing fear, anxiety, and pain for children (and their families) who are dealing with medical challenges, according to the ACLP.

An endorsed child life program gives students more opportunities for these career-building practicums and internships. “Endorsement sends the message to clinical sites that our students are coming from a high-quality child life education that will prepare them to work with infants, children, youth, and families in a variety of settings,” Vasquez said.

Many employers consider internships and practicums among the top qualifications when they’re hiring. These real-world experiences demonstrate how students apply their knowledge and skills. And APU helps students land these opportunities. As part of the master’s in child life program at APU, students complete a 120-hour practicum and a 600-hour hospital internship.

Endorsement Means Meeting Top Quality Standards

Endorsement isn’t an easy process, and colleges and universities need to take many steps to qualify. Among them, the program must:

  • Offer a master’s degree in child life or a related area with a concentration in child life.
  • Employ at least one full-time faculty member who holds an advanced degree, is a certified child life specialist (CCLS), and is involved in child life program decision-making and curriculum development.

Schools like APU see the value in pursuing accreditation and endorsement for academic programs. They’re willing to seek it because they know it provides their students with a richer, more rewarding educational experience.

Are you ready to take your future in child life to the next level? Learn more about how APU’s ACLP-endorsed Master’s of Science in Child Life program can advance your career.