Program Description

The Master of Science in Child Life Specialist is a 74 quarter credit program, which includes a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. Students are admitted into the program during the fall quarter.

As one of the few graduate programs in the nation that is endorsed by the Association of Child Life Professionals, students can expect a high level of both preparation and personal interaction as they embark on their career. Since inception, we have kept our commitment to maintaining small class sizes. Loma Linda University shares the same campus as the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital. This enables the program to provide in-class clinical training by utilizing the hospital staff and their facilities as a working lab. All of the core child life courses are taught by certified child life specialists that have ten or more years of experience working in a clinical setting. Additionally, we collaborate with our nursing department to teach within our program.

We pride ourselves on exposing our students to various clinical experiences within the community. Students are able to facilitate and actively participate in our Family Grief Support Group, Teddy Bear Clinic, Annual Child Life Symposium, Family Health Fair, Grief Camps and Teen Retreats. Students also have the opportunity to engage in research within our department. Additionally, students enrolled in the program engage in global community work in areas such as China, Belize, Bolivia, and Honduras, where they provide lectures on psychosocial care of children and their families and facilitate Teddy Bear Clinics.

Based on the program's alumni surveys, results indicate a high success rate of employment in the field and on the child life professional certification exam.

Program Website  |  Catalog

Program Length

2 years

Possible Careers

Child Life Specialists are well-versed in the field of child development. They promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. A Child Life Specialist provides emotional support for families, and encourages optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to health care and hospitalization. Understanding that a child's well-being depends on the support of the family, Child Life Specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the public about the needs of children under stress. (Taken from the Association of Child Life Professionals.)

Child Life is a growing but competitive field. Although Child Life has its traditional foundations in hospitals, an increasing number of Child Life Specialists are applying their unique expertise to help children and families in other environments, including outpatient healthcare facilities, doctor offices, hospice care, specialized camps, schools, court systems, and funeral homes.

Qualified graduates of the School of Behavioral Health are given priority interviewing for behavioral health positions with Loma Linda University Health.

Application Deadlines

Quarter Application Open Priority Deadline Final Deadline
Autumn of 2023 Nov 7, 2022 Feb 6, 2023 Mar 13, 2023

Admissions Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in the Social Sciences or equivalent
  • Minimum grade point average 3.0 (on 4.0 scale) in bachelor’s coursework for at least the final 45 units prior to graduation
  • GRE is not required
  • Health clearance
  • Prior to matriculation students must pass a background check
  • Official transcripts on file
  • Three letters of recommendation as specified
  • Written statement of purpose for applying to the Child Life program
  • Volunteer experience under the direction of a Certified Child Life Specialist is highly recommended
  • Interview with department faculty as scheduled (on-campus group interviews are scheduled for mid-January through late March; other on-campus and phone interviews are scheduled individually)
  • Those for which English is not their first language must present a minimum score of 80 for the computer test and 550 for the pencil test on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)


Please reference Admissions Requirements.

State Accrediting Agency

Loma Linda University is regionally accredited by the WSCUC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges [WASC] Senior College and University Commission).
Integrating faith and health
Loma Linda University educates and encourages a balanced life by living our values of humility, compassion, justice, integrity, excellence, freedom and self- control. You will be surrounded by faculty who are committed to healthcare innovation and research while engaging your spirituality.

Expected Cost of Attendance

Academic Year 2023-2024

Year of Program: Year 1 Year 2
Tuition $39,555 $26,670
Fees $2,925 $3,900
Books & Supplies $4,500 $1,500
Misc (e.g., Boards, Licensing exam, Uniforms)
Total $46,980 $32,070


Expected costs for the 2023-2024 academic year are based on full time attendance. From year to year, increases are anticipated consistent with inflation in the professional education sector.

Estimated Living Expenses

Academic Year 2023-2024, off campus, with a roommate

Year of Program: Year 1 Year 2
Months enrolled 9 12
Room & Board $15,885 $21,180
Transportation $3,150 $4,200
Personal Expenses $2,250 $3,000


  • Amounts are what a student can apply to borrow for the number of months shown in each academic year based on living off campus with a roommate and not with a relative.
  • International students need to calculate 12 months of living expenses based on the numbers listed here.
  • In general, to qualify for financial aid a student must be enrolled at least half time taking degree requirements. Half time is 6 units in a quarter for undergraduate programs and 4 units in a quarter for graduate programs.