Child Life Practicum Program

Due to a typo on the application, we are accepting applications for the Fall 2024 semester until April 14, 2024. If you wish to apply for the fall semester, please email your application to by April 14, 2024.

We are currently accepting applications for our practicum experience. We follow ACLP guidelines for application submission (see below for dates). Please submit your application to

Child Life Practicum Application (PDF)

What is a Child Life Practicum?

A practicum is a pre-internship experience for students who are looking for an opportunity to learn more about the Child Life field and role of a Child Life Specialist within a hospital setting. The practicum allows the student to become familiar with children’s reactions to the hospital environment, develop their observation and interaction skills with patients, families and staff and practice activity planning based on developmental knowledge.


Applicants must:

  • Be enrolled in a college or university throughout the duration of the practicum program.
  • Have completed a minimum of 5 courses in Child Life or related topics.
  • Be at a minimum junior level standing in their baccalaureate program before starting the practicum program.
  • Complete a minimum of 50 hours working or volunteering with typically developing children and provide proof of hours (summer camp, church groups, nanny, etc).
  • Complete a minimum of 30 hours working or volunteering with children in a hospitalized setting, medically fragile daycare or summer camp and provide proof of hours.


Child life student practicum placements are assigned according to the three-semester calendar cycle. Application forms for each semester must be received in accordance with the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) recommended internship application and offer dates:

Fall: March 15
Winter/Spring: September 5
Summer: January 5


Practicum placements are offered to candidates who demonstrate a strong knowledge of child development and dedication to the betterment of the lives of hospitalized children and their families. We accept on average two students per semester. We only allow for one educational experience at our facility. A student who completes a practicum at UPMC Children's will not be allowed to complete their internship at UPMC Children's.

The design of the practicum is based on the standards of practice set forth by the ACLP. The practicum experience offers an opportunity to become more familiar with the basics of a child life program as well as learning to interact with hospitalized children and their families.


Students are assigned to placements where they will be supervised by a certified child life specialist. Weekly supervision meetings are facilitated by the practicum coordinators.


The semester schedule is subject to change and will be discussed during the interview process. Typically, the commitment is two days a week (16 hours) for approximately 10 weeks. The two days are selected by the student and are typically Monday-Friday. The practicum experience will be for one semester only (Fall, Spring or Summer).


Throughout the practicum experience, students will complete assignments including journal reflections, psychosocial assessments, chart notes, therapeutic activity plans, and a case study.

Housing, Parking, and Meals

Students are responsible for making their own arrangements for housing and meals. For your convenience, a refrigerator and microwave may be available to you. The hospital complex and surrounding area offer many possibilities for meals. Parking can be provided at zero cost to the student, if needed.

Contact Us

For questions regarding the practicum program please contact program coordinator