What is a Clinical Internship?

As a requirement to sit for the Child Life Certification Exam, students must complete a (minimum) 600 hour clinical internship in child life under the direct supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist.

Internships are typically full-time, hands-on, and are required to meet the eligibility requirements for the child life certification exam. Internships are experience-based and are designed to teach and develop independent skills of child life practice. Individuals are expected, by the conclusion of the internship, to be able to function as job-ready, competent child life professionals.

Most internships are unpaid; however, there are a few child life programs that do offer paid internships.

Securing an Internship

Individuals must apply to specific internship programs to secure an internship. Prior to filling out the Internship Readiness Common Application; applicants must have began their Eligibility Assessment with ACLP.

Internships are competitive and applicants are not always offered placements the first time they apply. It is common for applicants to apply for more than one application cycle before receiving an offer. Asking for feedback, incorporating that feedback, and applying again are all typical parts of the professional development of future child life specialists.

View sample application

Internship Readiness Common Application

ACLP recommends that programs utilize the Internship Readiness Common Application as well as common internship application deadlines in order to make the process as equitable as possible for prospective interns.

ACLP does not have control over the application requirements set for each internship program. It is up to the applicant to review specific application requirements for the programs they are apply to.

Application Portal

Internship Application Definitions

The following are common terms associated with the internship application deadlines.

Internship Application Dates

ACLP recommends common internship application deadlines in order make the process as equitable as possible for prospective interns. These are the important dates each internship cycle. 

Offers on the Initial Offer Date will be made between the business hours of 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm Eastern Time. Offers will not be made to applicants prior to the Initial Offer Date.

Offer times by time zone:

  • Atlantic Time (2:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.)

  • Eastern Time (1:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.)

  • Central Time (12:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.)

  • Mountain Time (11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., except Arizona)

  • Arizona Time (11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. or 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., depending on time of year) AZ is in the Mountain Time zone and does not observe daylight savings time (except in the Navajo Indian Nation).

  • Pacific Time (10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.)

  • Alaska Time (9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.)

  • Hawaii-Aleutian Time (8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. or 7:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m., depending on time of year)

Offering Beyond the Initial Offer Date

All internship sites are welcome to make offers after the initial offer date as long as they have initially followed the application, offer, and acceptance deadlines set by the ACLP.

This gives programs an opportunity to fill spots that would otherwise go vacant for a semester and provides more students with much sought after placements.  Offers after the initial offer date may only be extended to candidates from the original pool and not from a new search.


The ACLP Internship Accreditation program has been decommissioned.

A task force will be formed to reimagine, revise, and implement a sustainable process to support and recognize high-quality clinical training programs and supervision.

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Diversity Scholarships

Funded through a grant from Disney, the purpose of ACLP's Diversity Scholarships is to support students from diverse backgrounds or whose self-reported fixed expenses take up the majority of their income who may otherwise be challenged in completing an internship.

Each scholarship will be for $5000 (USD), to be dispersed in increments over the course of the internship contingent on satisfactory progress. In addition, recipients also receive an ACLP Associate Level Membership for one year.

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Clinical Internship Accreditation Grievance Form
This form is intended to be submitted when a there is a concern that an accredited clinical internship is in violation of one or more of set accreditation standards.  All allegations will be reviewed and determined if further investigation needed.

Child LIfe Intern Grievance Form
Any person(s) who observes or experiences a situation that interferes with a child life intern’s ability to build and grow their child life skill set and/or represents an infringement on an intern’s rights, privileges and responsibilities has the right to file a grievance with the Internship Accreditation Oversight Committee.

Pledge for Internship Equity & Access

The internship process is a key factor to the certification path and access into the profession. Several barriers have been identified over the past several years regarding the internship process.

The ACLP Board of Directors has identified the following directives which together form the Pledge for Internship Equity and Access. Academic programs and internship sites are encouraged to sign the pledge.

Sign the Pledge

FAQs: Clinical Internship

The following are frequently asked questions related to a clinical internship experience.