What happened to the master’s degree requirement for certification eligibility?


Just as ACLP is the credentialing body for the child life profession, there is an analogous certifying body for credentialing programs. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits certification programs like ours, and it is our goal to become accredited by the NCCA.  

NCCA standards for accreditation include a requirement that the credentialing body (in our case, the Child Life Certification Commission (CLCC)) have ultimate authority over essential certification decisions, including eligibility requirements. 

Importance of the Job Analysis

To be legally defensible, the content of the certification exam must be job related. NCCA standards also require that the basis for certification exams begin with a Job Analysis (JA). A JA relies on data, a facilitated process, and a thorough validation survey that are essential to maintaining the credibility of the credentialing program. The JA provides the rationale for what is being tested by creating a very detailed job description. This product of the JA also defines the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to do the job. The KSAs indicate what eligibility requirements would be appropriate for the examination. They should represent the activities (academic and clinical) that would provide a candidate with the defined KSAs.

The Advanced Degree Requirement

The advanced degree requirement was born from the 2012-2014 ACLP strategic plan and subsequently approved by the Board of Directors as a means to increase professional credibility in the field. The primary purpose of a credential is protection of the public. Elevating the profession is the job of the professional association, not its certification program.

Although all may agree that a master’s degree could be valuable in increasing recognition, credibility and research for the field; the need for a master’s degree did not originate from the last JA (2012). Because the 2022 and 2025 requirements were not indicated through this process, they are not defensible by the CLCC and thereby subject our credentialing program to being perceived as subjective and lacking integrity.

The association's recognition that the 2012 decision that led to the 2022 and 2025 eligibility requirements should have originated with CLCC and its job analysis as opposed to having been a directive from the ACLP Board of Directors; and, preservation of best practice and NCCA standards has led the association to rescind the 2012 board motion of the master’s degree requirement for exam eligibility as of December 15, 2017.


It is essential for ACLP to retain a credentialing program that is perceived (and operated) as defensible, transparent and credible. 

The CCLS credential is the most unique, valuable program of ACLP, and asserting our credentialing program as credible and defensible surfaces as a top priority. We now know that the ACLP board cannot expose CLCC to undue influence with regards to its decisions/policies and requirements for certification-related activities. As such, CLCC has been recognized formally as a Commission, solidifying its authority over certification-related activities, effective in Spring 2018.

The Future

The 2019 eligibility requirements set by CLCC stand firm. ACLP and CLCC commit to providing timely communications of any eligibility requirements beyond those set for 2019.