Jul 08, 2020  
Undergraduate Calendar 2015-2016 
Undergraduate Calendar 2015-2016 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

Child Life Studies Diploma Program

This is an eight-month applied professional program in the Faculty of Health Sciences, focusing on the development of knowledge and skills for individuals working with infants, children, youth and families in a health care setting and community based programs.

The learning objectives are:

  1. to examine and review the growth and development of infants, children and youth, incorporating communication, play, expression of feelings, discovery and mastery of the environment, behaviour management, and parent/child relationships, and
  2. to examine the child life role by demonstrating critical thinking in assessment, intervention, prevention, advocacy and documentation in situations critical to the child’s development, at times of acute and chronic illness and potentially traumatic or life-changing events.

Graduates of the Child Life Studies Program will:

  1. Demonstrate assessment skills and interact with patients and families using theories of human growth and development, family systems and knowledge of cultural background
  2. Demonstrate effective use of therapeutic and expressive play as a primary tool for assessing and meeting psychosocial needs
  3. Effectively provide provision of a therapeutic and safe environment for individuals and groups aged newborn - 18 years
  4. Demonstrate ability to assist patients and families in coping with the stress of hospitalization, illness, death, and/or loss
  5. Demonstrate effective use of developmentally appropriate language and medically accurate teaching aids and techniques with children of all ages
  6. Demonstrate ability for self- evaluation of professional practice
  7. Function as a member of and integrate Child Life programming into the health care team
  8. Represent and communicate Child Life and psychosocial issues of pediatric health care to others
  9. Demonstrate the ability to supervise volunteers
  10. Demonstrate evaluation and/or record-keeping of child life services

Coursework involves emphasis on problem-based small group learning, case studies and self-directed learning. Two eight-week internship placements in children’s hospitals and community settings are a requirement of this program.


A related university degree with an overall B average is required, as well as relevant experience. Admission is based on the assessed strengths of each applicant as determined by a 2 stage selection procedure:

  1. Application package
  2. Interview

Not all candidates are offered interviews. Candidates must be successful at stage one to be offered an interview.

The Child Life Studies Program has a limited number of internship positions and the admission process is very competitive. The admission requirements stated are minimum requirements. Applicants who achieve highest overall admission scores based on application package and interview will be given preference for entrance into the program. Offers of admission will be made following the interview process.

Applications must be submitted by March 1 of each year for the study period beginning in September. Information outlining application requirements can be obtained by contacting the Child Life Studies program office at (905) 525-9140, ext. 22795 http://www.fhs.mcmaster.ca/childlife.


Applications are not held over from one year to another. If the applicant wishes to reapply they must resubmit a new application package including transcripts and additional material.

Evaluation and Continuation in the Program

Evaluation by self, peers, preceptors and faculty is part of an on-going assessment process of coursework, internships and program objectives.

A student must achieve a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 70% in all graded courses combined and achieve a Pass/Satisfactory performance in both internships.

Undergraduate Level Courses

Undergraduate level courses in Child Life are available separate from the post-graduate program. Please see the course descriptions listed in the Course Listings section of this calendar, under the subject Child Life Studies (CHILD LS). Contact Allison Riggs, Coordinator of Online Learning, Child Life at ariggs@mcmaster.ca for more information.