About the Track 

  • This undergraduate concentration track offers you the opportunity to complete the academic requirements for Child Life Specialist (CLS) certification.
  • Interprofessional coursework includes content with the following primary focus areas: child development, research, death and dying, family systems, and play. Further opportunities are offered to pursue New York State Association for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement
  • Nazareth’s social work major offers extensive field experience opportunities that emphasize hands-on learning during the junior and senior year. Placements are available in settings ranging from schools and hospitals to government and community-based grassroots agencies. These placements provide excellent experience that students and aspiring child life professionals can highlight on their future applications for child life practicum and internship placements.
  • Nazareth’s developing child and families minor is paired with the social work major to deepen students’ learning about all aspects of whole-child development, family centered-practice, as well as human and social service systems. 

The Child Life Specialist Track is Ideal For:

  • Matriculated undergraduate students pursuing the social work major and the developing child and families minor or other students in a related degree program interested in pursuing the academic requirements for post-graduate Child Life Specialist certification. 
  • Non-matriculated child-serving professionals interested in the foundational coursework for CLS certification. 

Career Information 

  • Certified Child Life Specialists work in both health care and community settings with infants, children, and youth experiencing a wide variety of stressful and potentially traumatic experiences relating to illness and injury. They provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain that improves care, satisfaction, and the overall experience.
  • Child life professionals help “infants, children, youth, and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury and treatment.”
  • Child life professionals provide evidence-based, developmentally appropriate interventions that include therapeutic play, preparation and education to reduce fear, anxiety and pain across healthcare and community settings or situations. 

What to Expect

  • Interprofessional coursework preparing students for certification as a Child Life Specialist 
  • Field work and community partnership experiences that position graduates with a competitive edge when applying for the required Child Life Specialist internship (post-graduate)
  • Access to an on- and off-campus professional learning community focused on special topics in early childhood, inclusion, social welfare, and social justice
  • Opportunity to study abroad for a semester or choose a short-term group trip through a service-learning course or cultural immersion course, such as to Jamaica, India, or Finland
  • Individualized professional advisement and mentoring toward the Child Life Specialist certification 


Courses in the social work major and the developing children and families minor, plus a child life specialist theory and practice course, combine to prepare students well for a career in social work, including as a child life specialist: 

  • Child Development Coursework: Developmental Psychology, Speech-Language Acquisition, Human Behavior and the Social Environment I (human development)
  • Family Systems Coursework: Human Behavior and the Social Environment II (human behavior theory), Social Work Methods and Practice I & II 
  • Play-Based Coursework: Interprofessional Perspectives on Play and Development
  • Research Coursework: Research Methods (social work or psychology) 
  • Loss/Bereavement Coursework: Death and Dying/Meaning of Death 
  • Child Life Specialist Course on Theory and Practice: A course taught by a practicing Child Life Specialist with advanced training. 
  • Elective Courses may include: Diverse Children’s Literature, Secondary Trauma and Self-Care, Family Law, History and Philosophy of Education, Nutrition, Ethics, Psychology of the Exceptional Individual, Public Health, etc. 

Registration Process

  • Prospective Undergraduate Students: Once you've started classes, talk with your academic advisor about your interest in this track.
  • Current Naz Students: Undergraduate students currently enrolled in a Nazareth program, talk to your academic program director to determine if you are eligible to enroll. 
  • If you have questions, contact Dr. Charlesworth listed below. 

Tuition and Fees

See Nazareth’s fees and tuition per credit hour.

 Child Life Specialist Track Contacts