Child Life Practicum

Practicum experience is intended to introduce the student to the field of child life, as well as the variety of experiences facing children and adolescents in the healthcare setting. This type of training is highly recommended for those students who are considering a career as a child life specialist.

A child life specialist will supervise the student as he or she participates in individual and group activities with children and families. The student will also have the opportunity to observe certified child life specialists in their work with patients, families and the interdisciplinary team. Students are placed in two areas of the Hospital for their practicum experience.


Practicum students are required to:

  • Have completed a core curriculum, including child development course work, and must document successful experiences working with children.
  • Complete eight to 12 hours per week, for approximately 14 weeks and a minimum of 120 hours.

Students do not need a bachelor’s degree in child life, but do need to have related coursework. Many child life staff have their degrees in child development, human development and family studies, psychology, etc. More information about the Child Life Council’s course recommendations can be found on the Child Life Council website.

Start/end dates

The start/end dates are established with limited flexibility:

  • Spring 2016 session: Jan. 11, 2016 - April 15, 2016. Application deadline: Sept. 15, 2015
  • Summer 2016 session: May 16, 2016 - Aug. 19, 2016. Application deadline: Jan. 15, 2016
  • Fall 2016 session: Aug. 29, 2016 - Dec. 2, 2016. Application deadline: May 15, 2016
  • Spring 2017 session: Jan. 9, 2017 - April 14, 2017. Application deadline: Sept. 15, 2016

Please email the Student Programs Coordinator with any questions regarding the start and end dates.


The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia does not provide housing for students. However, rooms and apartments are available for rent from Sansom Place Guest Accommodations through The University of Pennsylvania, located adjacent to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Students who are accepted to the student program who contact Sansom Place Guest Accommodations for housing must notify the staff at Sansom Place that they are CHOP-Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy department students. 


For more information about the practicum experience, download the practicum application, which includes the Practicum Job Description and Application.

Application is not a guarantee of acceptance. A limited number of students will be accepted each session.  The number of students accepted in the practicum varies from semester to semester due to the number of applicants and supervisor availability. Generally, we accept one to three child life practicum students per semester.

Contact us

For more information about professional education in the Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy Department, please call 267-426-1340 or email

Reviewed on January 14, 2015