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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Education and Professional Studies

Family and Child Life Graduate Program



Master of Science in Family and Child Life

The graduate program in Family and Child Life aims to prepare students to work in Family and Social Service agencies or as Child Life specialists.  The family and child life degree includes an advanced interdisciplinary study of interpersonal and family relationships. The graduate program has a strong emphasis on community involvement, practical application, and research. Graduates are prepared for advanced career opportunities in children’s hospitals, family social service agencies, parent education programs, family counseling centers, and other family life education settings or doctoral study in family relations.

Family and Child Life Graduate Program Handout

What is unique about the graduate program at CWU?

  • The Family and Child Life program admits a small cohort of 12 students per year. Students take courses with their cohort and get to know colleagues in the program well. Classes are also small, and students build relationships with program faculty quickly. 
  • All Family and Child Life Master’s students complete a multi-term practicum or internship experience in an agency suited to their particular professional goals. Students pursuing child life certification can complete this requirement in a child life internship in a children’s hospital.
  • All students design and conduct a research study specific to their area of interest. Students have the opportunity to present their findings at a University sponsored research symposium as well as a regional professional conference.
  • Students have the flexibility to choose a capstone project that best meets their professional goals. Students will work with an advisor to decide whether to complete a thesis research project, an alternative project, or a comprehensive examination.
  • Limited teaching assistantships are available. Assistantships provide tuition support and a stipend in exchange for students serving as instructors and advisors in the family and child life undergraduate program.

Program Requirements

Required Courses:

Course # Title Credits
FCL 501 Research Methods 5
FCL 502 Statistics 4
FCL 532 Family Interaction 4
FCL 534 Therapeutic Applications of Child Development 4
FCL 547 Families and Poverty 4
FCL 592 Practicum 12
FCL 595 Graduate Research 1
FCL 700 Master's Thesis, Project Study, and/or Examination 2-6*
  Approved Electives 12
  Total Credits 48-52
* Examination = 2 credits; Project Study = 4 credits; Thesis = 6 credits
Approved Elective Courses:
FCL 503  |  Family Communication
FCL 514  |  Coping with Grief and Loss
FCL 515  |  Therapeutic Play
FCL 516  |  Child Life I: Scope of Practice
FCL 517  |  Pediatric Diagnoses and Medical Terminology
FCL 518  |  Child Life II: Impact of Hospitalization
FCL 533  |  Family Life Education
FCL 539  |  Families and Public Policy
FCL 582  |  Curriculum Development
Students will work with their graduate advisor to develop a program of study appropriate for their individual career goals. Students typically begin the program in summer quarter, and can complete the degree after the following summer (5 quarters total). Students seeking certification as Child Life Specialists or Family Life Educators may need to complete additional coursework to qualify for certification.

How to Apply:

Application Requirements:

  • Online admission application
  • Personal statement (include your career goals, research interests, and how this program is a good fit for you)
  • Three letters of recommendation (*at least one from a faculty member)
  • Official transcripts


  • We typically admit students to begin in Summer/Fall quarters.
  • The deadline for priority application is Feb 1st.
We do NOT require the GRE for admission.
We do NOT have any required prerequisite coursework for admittance to the program. However, we recommend that students pursuing child life certification have taken  undergraduate courses in child development and anatomy and physiology. These courses are available at CWU and can be completed during the graduate program if students enter without them.
For more information about applying, visit the graduate school website.


For more information about the graduate program, contact Dr. Amy Claridge.

Graduate Student Handbook 2019-2020

We have undergraduate programs in Family Science and Child Life.


For more information on professional certifications:

National Council on Family Relations: Certified Family Life Educator

Association of Child Life Professionals: Certified Child Life Specialist

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