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A child life specialist works with a pediatric patient at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Program overview

Program length: Minimum of 120 hours between the months of May-August
Class size: 2 students
Location: Rochester, Minnesota

The Child Life Specialist Practicum at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, is an introductory experience for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a child life specialist.

Through experiential learning and observation of certified child life specialists, you will begin to increase your knowledge of evidence-based, developmentally-appropriate interventions to reduce fear and anxiety for infants, children, youth, and families as they cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury, and treatment. Through these experiences, you will enhance your knowledge of the child life profession and investigate the process of applying child life and developmental theory to practice.

Schedule and hours

As a child life practicum student, your schedule will mirror the schedule of your assigned Certified Child Life Specialist. Hours assigned could be daytime, evening, weekday, or weekend shifts. Hours will be determined with acceptance to the child life practicum program. Orientation and completion of institutional required policies will be completed prior to the 120 hour practicum experience.

The program is completed within the months of May through August. Two scheduling options will be available:

  • Option A: Three weeks, 40 hours/week (120 hours)
  • Option B: Fifteen weeks, 8 hours/week (120 hours)


To be eligible for the practicum, you must be at least a junior in college or have completed a bachelor's or master's degree with a major in:

  • Child life
  • Child development
  • Human growth and development
  • Child psychology
  • Other related fields

Applicants must have minimum of 50 hours of experience with well infants, children, youth, and/or families.

Applicants must have a minimum of 50 hours of experience with infants, children, youth, and/or families in stressful situations, healthcare settings, and/or programs designed for children with special needs.

Non-U.S. citizen applicants

Admission to Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences is open to U.S. workers in the four categories below. Therefore, visa sponsorship is not available.

  1. U.S. citizens
  2. U.S. nationals
  3. Lawful permanent residents
  4. Asylees and refugees

Applicants whose primary language is not English must submit results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based test (TOEFL iBT). Scores from the speaking portion of the exam are given particular consideration in admission decisions. Learn more about the exam and register online at the Educational Testing Service.

The Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences code for the TOEFL iBT is 5784.

Educational transcripts from schools outside the U.S. must be translated (if they are not already in English) and evaluated for U.S. equivalence by an accredited credential evaluation service company prior to submission. Please refer to the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for a list of qualified companies. The applicant pays for the examination and credential-evaluation services.

Application process

Application deadline Offer date Application
Nov. 1-Jan. 1  Early February Online application 

Application instructions

All supporting documentation must be received by January 1. 

Complete the following steps to apply:

  1. Create an account to begin the online Application for Admission
    • Select - Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
    • Select - Child Life Specialist Practicum
  2. Complete each section of the application and submit
  3. After submission, view the required Supplemental Items and Documents
    • Upload each required item in the Supplemental Items section

Additional required items

  • Unofficial transcripts from all attended institutions
    • Official transcripts will be required upon acceptance
  • Documentation of experience - Add to the "Additional Documentation" supplemental item
    • All hours of experience should be documented utilizing the Verification of Child Life Experience Form
    • Minimum of 50 hours of experience with well infants, children, youth, and/or families
    • Minimum 50 hours of experience with infants, children, youth, and/or families in healthcare settings or stressful situations (such as hospital/child life volunteer, camps for children with chronic illness, programs for children with special needs, advocacy programs, or bereavement/hospice experience)
  • Child life practicum essay questions - Limit responses to 200 words or less
    • Explain your understanding of the role of a child life specialist in the healthcare setting.
    • Describe a time you used play during an interaction with a child or teen.
    • What have you done to prepare for and increase your knowledge of both the child life profession and this practicum experience?
    • Why are you interested in Mayo Clinic?
    • What do you hope to gain from your child life practicum? Please state 2-3 goals.
    • What sets you apart from other applicants as being a good fit for this educational opportunity?
  • Resume

If admitted, official copies of all transcripts will be required prior to the start of the program. They must be sent directly from the institution by email to (preferred) or by postal mail to:

Mayo Clinic Child Life Program
Francis 3C-116
200 First St. SW
Rochester, MN 55905

To confirm receipt of application materials, send your submissions via certified U.S. mail, FedEx, or UPS, all of which provide tracking options.


As instructed by the Association of Child Life Professionals, the child life practicum experience will be a largely observational experience with child life practicum students beginning to engage in independent play and developmentally supportive interventions with infants, children, youth, and families as deemed appropriate by the supervising CCLS. 

Learning assignments include:

  • Reflective journaling
  • Educational in-services and discussions
  • Specific structured readings
  • Personal philosophy of child life statement
  • Additional assignments focused on individual learning needs may be assigned

The child life practicum includes observation opportunities for you to explore the following theory and interventions related to child life practice: child life assessments, developmental theory integration, therapeutic play interventions, rapport building, procedural preparation, and introducing positive coping techniques.

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