The Department of Family and Consumer Sciences offers a Master of Science or Master of Arts degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with a sequence in Child Life. This sequence prepares you to enter the child life profession by providing ample opportunities to increase your capacity for inquiry, logical thinking, critical analysis, and synthesis as you apply theory to practice in the classroom and at your practicum sites. Through required and elective courses, our graduate program provides all courses necessary to meet Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) requirements.
In this sequence, you’ll apply for competitive child life internships during the last semester of coursework on campus. Following your internship, you are eligible to take the national Child Life Certification Examination. The Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) credential is the exclusive child life certification and is issued by the Child Life Certification Commission, a subsidiary of the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP).
Strong candidates for the Child Life graduate program are those who:
- Have a strong foundation in child development and developmental theory
- Can articulate a clear understanding of Child Life and its theoretical basis
- Have a minimum of 50 hours of hospital volunteer experience; preferably including contact with Child Life
Point of Pride
90% of Child Life graduate students received an internship offer at first application and 97% within the second round of applications.
Students in this program work in the Nursing Simulation Lab (NSL) to develop multidisciplinary communication skills and role understanding.
Dr. Keri Edwards, CCLS
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How to Apply
University Admission Requirements
A student applying to a master's program must:
- have earned a four-year bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a college or university that is accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association, or do so within one academic year
- present unofficial transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. The unofficial transcript should be easily readable and clearly indicate degree(s) awarded, courses and course grades for each term. If accepted, official transcripts can be emailed from the university to GraduateAdmissions@IllinoisState.edu or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Illinois State University, Graduate School, 209 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 4040, Normal, IL 61790-4040.
International students can learn more about specific application requirements by visiting the Office of Admissions. International students must have a TOEFL score of at least 79 iBT; the minimum acceptable IELTS score is 6.5 band.
Additional Program Admission Requirements
A student applying to this program must:
- have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for either the last 60 hours of your undergraduate coursework or any previous work in a graduate program.
- Upload a personal essay addressing the following prompts: What is your personal philosophy on Child Life? Why are you interested in the field of Child Life? What are your personal strengths and areas for growth? Describe your experience working with children and families in a variety of settings.
- Provide names and email addresses for three references; two references should be from an academic source and one should indicate direct experience with children.
- Upload a document showing proof of at least 50 hours of hospital experience, preferably including contact with Child Life
- Submit a resume
Applications received by our Priority Submission Date of February 15th for Fall admissions will receive primary consideration for acceptance into our high-demand areas and offers for financial assistance including graduate assistantships.
- Fall (August) Term — Continuous Review
The University provides graduate assistantships as a means of financial support. They are intended as a way to facilitate a student's progress to degree while providing important professional development.
To be eligible for an assistantship a student must, generally,
- be admitted unconditionally as a degree-seeking student into a graduate academic program, or have a minimum of 120 undergraduate hours if in an integrated degree program
- be in good-standing
- be enrolled full-time (typically at least 9 credit hours during the fall or spring semesters, or at least 6 hours during the summer session).
Graduate assistants receive
- monthly wages paid in the form of either a stipend or an hourly wage
- a waiver for 100% of tuition during a semester of appointment
- a waiver for up to 12 credit hours of tuition for the summer term immediately following a fall or spring appointment
Costs & Funding
See Student Accounts for information on tuition and fees. Funding for graduate students is available from several different sources. Students who have been admitted from contiguous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.
Both full-time and part-time students enrolled in a master's degree program are eligible for tuition waivers. Students enrolled in a certificate program only are not eligible. Only students who have completed less than two years full-time or 40 credit hours are eligible. Students do not need to demonstrate financial need. Tuition waiver minimum requirements are as follows:
New graduate students: Minimum GPA of 3.25 (based on GPA calculated by Admissions office)
Currently enrolled graduate students: Minimum GPA of 3.25 for graduate courses at ISU
During the first week of classes each semester, students admitted to the graduate program may apply for a Graduate Tuition Waiver. Students must turn in the two-page tuition waiver application and the Selective Service Verification form to be considered for a tuition waiver.
View the Graduate Tuition Waiver Application
All tuition waiver awards are at in-state rates.
Tuition waivers are typically partial and do not cover all tuition costs.
Award letters will be sent to the student electronically through e-mail.
Funds will appear in student's account sometime after the 10th day of classes when course enrollment is verified.
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