Purpose of Program

Accredited internship program logo

The Child Life Internship program at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital strives to offer students a well-rounded experience through hands on clinical work as well as educational training essential for the child life field. Our goal is to develop highly competent job ready child life specialists by the end of the internship. 

This program provides direct patient care to approximately 90 inpatient pediatric beds, 56 NICU beds and several outpatient areas that serve pediatric patients. As a teaching hospital, Penn State Health Children’s Hospital provides a positive learning environment for students and offers additional educational resources such as Schwartz Rounds, in-services and the Harrell Health Sciences Library. The child life program individualizes the internship to meet each student’s unique learning needs. 

Our ACLP accredited internship program offers over 600 hours of clinical time (40 hours a week over 16 weeks) during the spring and fall semesters. Each intern will complete two 6-week rotations in different areas of the hospital, as well as shadow days on other units to maximize exposure to a variety of clinical settings, acuity levels and diagnoses. 

Within our program, we are committed to creating a culture that is inclusive of all regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, language, ability/disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or geographic region. We desire to create a space for everyone to feel welcomed, respected and valued throughout their learning process and to provide unique opportunities to grow in the child life profession. Please visit Penn State Health’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion webpage to gain further insight into how this is being addressed by the organization. 

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital is accepting applications for the Fall 2023 internship.

We are no longer able to accept non-affiliated students.

Requirements to Apply for Internship

To be considered for the internship, the following criteria must be met:

  • Senior college level student or graduate student in pursuit of a degree in child life, child development or a related field:
  • “Passed” status on the ACLP Eligibility Assessment for all academic requirements or actively enrolled in an ACLP endorsed academic program. 
  • 100 hours of experience with infants, children, youth and/or families in a healthcare setting (volunteer, practicum, child life assistant, etc.). 
  • 100 hours of experience with well infants, children, youth and/or families.

Note:  All experience hours must be completed by time of application

If you still have additional questions regarding the application process please email ChildLifeStudents@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

How to Apply

Interview Process

The strongest candidates who meet or exceed the application requirements will be contacted to move forward with the interview process. The candidates who qualify for the final round of interviews will be contacted to schedule a virtual interview over Zoom.  

Application Dates

Spring Internship

  • Anticipated start date – January
  • Application due date – September 7th

Fall Internship

  • Anticipated start date – August
  • Application due date – March 15th

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital follows the Association of Child Life Professions (ACLP) offer and acceptance dates. Please see ACLP website for current dates.


  1. When are internships offered? Internships are offered in the fall and spring only. Internships are NOT offered during the summer. 
  2. Do you accept non-affiliated students? No, unfortunately we are no longer able to accept non-affiliated or independent students. All applicants must be affiliated with a college or university in order to be considered for the internship.
  3.  Do you provide clinical experiences for Recreation Therapy students? At this time, we are unable to support Recreation Therapy students for internship experiences.
  4. If I’ve completed my volunteer hours and/or practicum at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital can I still apply for the internship program? You can still apply for the internship, however, we recommend students seek opportunities at other medical facilities to have a more well-rounded experience. 
  5. How many interns do you take each semester? No more than two interns will be selected for each semester.
  6. Will you accept applications through the mail? Applications must be submitted through the online application that is accessible on our website. Any applications that are received in the mail will not be considered for the internship.
  7. When are offers made? Penn State Health Children’s Hospital follows the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) offer and acceptance dates. Please see the ACLP website for current dates.
  8. Is housing available for child life interns? Housing is not provided, therefore students must secure their own housing for the internship.
  9. Is parking available near the hospital? Free parking is available for students. Students will be assigned to a parking area on campus and must park in that designated location. Students can walk to the hospital from the parking areas or use the campus shuttles.
  10. Do child life interns have to wear a uniform? Child life interns would be expected to wear the same uniform that child life staff wear.  The child life uniform is a black shirt and colored/printed pants.  Wearing a colored/printed shirt with a black sweater over top is acceptable though the sweater must be laundered after each use.  Scrub pants without cargo pockets or business casual pants are allowed, but leggings are not allowed.  All shoes must be closed toe, and sneakers are acceptable. 
  11. What units are available for rotations? Students will typically have one inpatient rotation and one outpatient rotation. Interns may have the opportunity to rotate in the following areas:
    1. Inpatient
      1. Pediatric Progressive Care
      2. Hematology/Oncology
      3. Surgical Care
      4. Pediatric Intensive Care
      5. Neonatal Intensive Care
    2. Outpatient
      1. University Physician Center Clinics/Main Operating Room
      2. Radiology
      3. Surgery
      4. Emergency Department
  12. What is the internship schedule like? The days and hours of the internship will be dependent on the unit where the students are rotating. Some evening and weekend hours should be expected.  The internship is full time with students completing 40 hours per week of clinical work at the hospital. Students will have weekly readings and assignments to complete in addition to the hands-on clinical work. The semester schedule is as follows:
    1. Orientation - 1 week
    2. First Rotation - 6 weeks
    3. Flex Weeks - 3 weeks (Shadow in other areas, complete other assignments)
    4. Second Rotation - 6 weeks
  13. What are the internship assignments? The child life internship is based on the learning modules from the ACLP internship curriculum. Students will have weekly reading assignments as well as written work to prepare for each module meeting with a CCLS. Students will also complete various assignments throughout the internship including but not limited to a daily journal, case studies, play interventions, procedure support documents, charting, facilitating hospital bingo, seminar presentations to child life staff, a project, a mock interview and more.
  14. What additional child life programming opportunities are available for interns? We aim to include students in all special events, educational presentations, and community outreach programs that are available during a semester. Typically, students will participate in programs such as Sibshops, Children’s Remembrance Ceremony, Take Your Son/Daughter to Work Day, holiday events, and child life month activities. Students will also have the opportunity to attend continuing education programs such as Schwartz Rounds, diversity workshops, or child life webinars as they are available.