Objectives and competences

The Master's Degree in Child Life, a care model centred on the child, adolescent and family, is designed to train professionals in the area of clinical and psychosocial pediatric care, so that they can implement this model.

The master's degree is organized by the Teaching Campus Sant Joan de Déu and the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, and the qualification is issued by the University of Barcelona. The teaching campus has over twenty years of experience in the organization of its own and UB postgraduate and master's degree courses.
Child Life programmes have become standard in most of the main pediatric hospitals in the USA, and even in some pediatric units in general hospitals, to face situations in which diseases and treatments produce suffering and anxiety. Child Life specialists focus on children's strengths and feeling of well-being, and on promoting their optimum development. They aim to keep to a minimum any adverse effects of children's experiences in environments that are potentially stressful (particularly hospitalisation, but also other cases).

This master's degree focuses on both professional specialisation and research. The focus on professional specialisation is justified by the need for healthcare and psychosocial professionals in pediatrics, particularly in a hospital environment, who are specialists in a care model that is centred on children, adolescents and the family. At the same time, the aim of the master's degree is to train professionals who have the skills to carry out research in the context of disease and pediatric care. 

Currently, the Spanish state does not have a programme of university training at bachelor's degree, postgraduate or master's level in this field. In contrast, in the USA, there is a long tradition of teaching in this field at a range of universities and higher education institutions. Clearly, over time, European hospitals, and specifically Spanish hospitals, will need to regulate academic qualifications in Child Life.

Basic information

TypeMaster's degree
Faculty or schoolSant Joan de Déu Teaching Campus - Private Foundation
Branch of knowledge
Mode of delivery
  • Face-to-face
Number of places available40
Length of course1 academic year
Language(s) of instructionCatalan - Spanish
Course detailsIndicators
Open pre-enrolmentNo
Open enrolmentNo
Lead to doctoral studiesYes
Admission for applicants not holding a degree qualificationNo
Bridging coursesYes

Objectives and competences


The main learning outcomes of the master's degree are as follows:

  • Obtain appropriate training as professionals involved in the process of caring for pediatric patients, to become competent in the area of family-centred care and in the Child Life model, and to become capable of designing and managing care plans that promote the participation of patients and their families.
  • Obtain suitable training as professionals who can design, develop and assess research projects on the experience of pediatric disease and the outcome of applying the Child Life model.
  • Obtain suitable training as professionals who can lead and coordinate interdisciplinary teams that apply the model of family-centred care and Child Life.
  • Analyse and critically interpret healthcare practice, the changing needs of society and the available resources, to become capable of proposing theoretical and methodological changes in healthcare practice.
  • Learn the theoretical and methodological principles and instruments of work required to implement care plans based on the Child Life model.
  • Act in an ethical and legal way that complies with the ethical code, both in clinical practice during training and in professional development.


Basic competences

  • Knowledge forming the basis of original thinking in the development and/or application of ideas, typically in a research context.

  • Capacity to apply the acquired knowledge to problem-solving in new or relatively unknown environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to the field of studies.

  • Capacity to integrate knowledge and tackle the complexity of formulating judgements based on incomplete or limited information, giving due consideration to the social and ethical responsibilities involved in applying knowledge and making judgements.

  • Capacity to communicate knowledge and conclusions and the grounds on which they have been reached to specialist and non-specialist audiences in a clear and unambiguous manner.

  • Capacity for ongoing self-directed and independent learning.

General competences

  • Capacity to integrate knowledge of the current context of hospitalisation of children and the development of Child Life as a care model focused on children, adolescents and their families.

  • Capacity to recognise and assess situations of stress that children, adolescents and their families may experience during the process of hospitalisation, or the performance of medical and health tests and techniques, in the different stages of evolution of a disease.

  • Capacity to analyse traditional care models, so that new therapeutic interventions can be designed to improve professional practice.

  • Capacity to identify and apply research methods and procedures in the health sciences that are appropriate to the Child Life care model.

  • Capacity to apply techniques to manage, lead and evaluate interdisciplinary or multiprofessional care teams for children, adolescents and families.

  • Capacity to lead, design and assess research projects in the area of pediatric care, both within and outside the hospital.

  • Ability to develop theoretical and methodological ideas and proposals aimed at preventing and addressing situations of vulnerability in children, adolescents and their families, from a perspective focused on respect for human rights, the values of a democratic culture, cultural diversity and gender.

  • Capacity to design care programmes based on the Child Life model for children's hospitals or in pediatric units in general hospitals.

  • Capacity to develop care models based on creativity and innovation, aimed at improving the quality of healthcare.

  • Capacity to establish educational and therapeutic communication with children, adolescents and their families.

Specific competences

  • Capacity to innovate and make proposals to improve the area of hospitalisation of children.

  • Capacity to assess, plan, execute and evaluate treatment plans that include a specific Child Life approach, basically in relation to psychosocial care.

  • Capacity to assess quality standards in the area of hospitalisation of children

  • Capacity to identify situations and contexts that are stressful for children or adolescents, whether or not they are hospitalised, and for their families.

  • Capacity to respond to situations of stress, pain, emotional impact and situations of terminal illness in children and adolescents, taking into account the participation of their families.

  • Capacity to identify educational strategies in the process of hospitalisation of children.

  • Capacity to identify and plan specific therapies that are suitable for each situation.

  • Capacity to lead, design, develop and assess research projects to facilitate evidence-based practice in the field of Child Life or pediatric psychosocial care.

  • Capacity to promote interdisciplinary work with other members of the team, professionals and volunteers.

  • Capacity to identify social risk factors in childhood during the process of hospitalisation or disease.

Access and admission

Applicant profile and access requirements

Recommended applicant profile

The master's degree is designed for university graduates:

  • Professionals in the healthcare environment, in the fields of nursing, psychology, physiotherapy, medicine, speech therapy, etc., who wish to implement the Child Life care model in their daily practice.

  • Professionals from other areas (education, social work, social education, pedagogy, etc.) who wish to apply or adapt the Child Life model.

Although this is a broad applicant profile, we consider that many of these graduates (or holders of similar qualifications) could be very interested in studying and working in the pediatric healthcare environment. Consequently, we consider that, if they take the relevant bridging courses, they can access this course without difficulty, and attain the proposed learning objectives and competences.

Depending on the availability of places, the Master's Degree Committee may also consider applications from candidates who hold other bachelor's or pre-EHEA degrees and can provide evidence of over two years of professional work in this field.

Students must have a good command of Spanish or Catalan.

Access requirements and conditions

General requirements
In accordance with Article 16 of Royal Decree 1393/2007, of 29 October, students wishing to be admitted to a university master's degree must hold one of the following qualifications:

  • Official Spanish university degree.

  • A degree issued by a higher education institution within the European Higher Education Area framework that authorizes the holder to access university master's degree courses in the country of issue.

  • A qualification issued by an institution outside the framework of the European Higher Education Area. In this case, applicants must request homologation of the degree to its equivalent official Spanish university qualification or obtain express approval from the University of Barcelona, which will conduct a study of equivalence to ensure that the degree is of a comparable level to an official Spanish university qualification and that it grants access to university master's degree study in the country of issue. Admission shall not, in any case, imply that prior qualifications have been recognized as equivalent to a Spanish master's degree and does not confer recognition for any purposes other than that of admission to the master's degree course.

Specific requirements
  • Qualifications that grant direct access to the master's degree, with no requirement to take bridging courses:
    - Holders of diplomas and graduates in Nursing.
    - Holders of bachelor's and pre-EHEA degrees in Psychology.
    - Holders of diplomas and graduates in Physiotherapy.
    - Graduates in Medicine and Surgery.

  • Related qualifications, with a requirement to take bridging courses:
    - Holders of bachelor's and pre-EHEA degrees in Pedagogy.
    - Holders of diplomas and graduates in Early Childhood and Primary Education.
    - Holders of diplomas and graduates in Speech Therapy.
    - Holders of diplomas and graduates in Social Work.
    - Holders of diplomas and graduates in Social Education.

  • Other qualifications, if professional experience can be demonstrated in the area of pediatric care, which also require to take bridging courses:
    - Holders of bachelor's degrees and diplomas in other disciplines with postgraduate training in music therapy, art-therapy, animal-assisted therapy, humour-assisted therapy (clowns in the hospital environment).

The Master's Degree Committee may also consider applications from candidates with bachelor's degree or pre-EHEA degree qualifications in other fields, who can demonstrate that they have over two years' of professional experience in the area of pediatric care.

Bridging courses

Some applicants' qualifications do not include specific training on fundamental aspects of healthcare. Consequently, it is vital to ensure that bridging courses cover the contents required to ensure that every student makes the best possible use of their time.

One of the bridging courses that is offered is a 6-credit subject that is taken intensively prior to the start of the master's degree, during September. It is designed exclusively for students of the master's degree.

Subject: Childhood and diseases (6 credits)

Learning outcomes
- Identify the different types of childhood diseases.
- Analyse specific needs in the range of childhood diseases.
- Learn the basic medical and healthcare terminology.

Types of pediatric diseases:
- Diseases requiring pediatric surgery. Process of hospitalisation.
- Chronic pediatric diseases.
- Acute, critical pediatric diseases.
- General pediatric diseases: the most common techniques and procedures during hospitalisation.
- Medical and healthcare terminology.




Required documentation

  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Letter of intent explaining the motivation to undertake the master's degree.
  • Pre-enrolment application.
  • Academic record.
  • Copy of the qualification giving access to the master's degree, or the equivalent for international students, duly translated and legalized.

Selection criteria

Candidates to the master's degree are selected and admitted on the basis of these merits, in order:

  1. Educational background. Priority is given to the qualifications listed as granting access to the course, and consideration is given to other studies (master's and postgraduate degrees and other studies related to the subject area (40%).
  2. Professional experience in the field of Pediatrics or Care for Children. (40%). In this case, three specific aspects are evaluated, listed in order of importance:
    1. Number of years' of experience in professional activities related to childhood.
    2. Relevance of the positions held in institutions or childhood-related programmes.
    3. Relevance of professional duties performed in these institutions and programmes.
  3. Academic record. The grade-point average obtained in the degree or equivalent studies used for the purpose of application will be taken into account (10%).
  4. Motivation. Factors leading to the choice of the master's degree are given consideration (10%).

In case the number of candidates is over 40, admission will follow the order of enrolment, provided that the previous criteria are met.


A special committee is created to consider the candidates applications. The committee is made up of members of the master's degree Coordinating Committee. 

Phase 1. The committee considers the aforementioned criteria to decide on the admission of students who have pre-enrolled. 

Phase 2. Each candidate attends an individual meeting before the enrolment period opens, to assess that they meet the aforementioned criteria and their motivation to study the master's degree.  

In case the number of candidates is over 40, admission will follow the order of enrolment, provided that the previous criteria are met.   

Notification of successful and unsuccessful applications will be sent out during the first week of July. Candidates may appeal against or request a review of the committee's decision during the second half of July.


As a general rule, at the UB you will be required to enrol online. Remember that you can lose your place if you do not enrol on the day you have been assigned

Course curriculum

Subjects and course plans

Distribution of credits

Compulsory 30
Optional 12
Compulsory placements 6
Compulsory final project 12

List of subjects

Subject Type Language Credits
Specialization: Emotional Care for the Hospitalized Child: The Child Life Model
Animal-Assisted Activities in the Hospital Environment Optional 6
Child Life as a Model Compulsory 3
Child, Family and Adolescent Psychology Compulsory 3
Childhood and Illness Compulsory 3
Clowns in the Hospital Environment Optional 3
Education of Children and Adolescents during Hospitalization Optional 6
Environment and Hospitalization Compulsory 3
Final Project Compulsory 12
Innovation and Creativity in Children's Hospitals Optional 3
Institutional or Company Placement Compulsory 6
Model of Family-Based Care Compulsory 3
Play and Toys for Hospitalized Children Optional 3
Qualitative Research into the Practice of Child Life Compulsory 3
Quantitative Research into the Practice of Child Life Compulsory 3
The Child Life Care Model in Practice Compulsory 6
The Child Life Professional Compulsory 3
The Use of Music and Art in the Child Life Model Optional 3

Bridging courses

Subject Type Language Credits
Specialization: BC for admission to the Master's Degree in Emotional Care for the Hospitalized Child: the Child Life Model
Childhood and Pathologies Optional 6

Previous years


Placements in a company or another type of organization are an integral part of university studies, providing first-hand experience of working methodologies in students' chosen professional fields. They offer invaluable practical experience for the transition into work after graduation.

Placements are supervised by tutors and subject to assessment. They are therefore included in the academic record.  There is also an option to complete non-curricular placements of up to 500 hours, which can be extended to 900 hours. For both curricular and non-curricular placements, an educational cooperation agreement is signed between the UB and the company, institution or other organization at which the placement will be carried out.

Institutional information

Career opportunities

What can you work on ?

Graduates could occupy posts that are focused entirely on the Child Life model in children's hospitals and in pediatric services in general hospitals. Alternatively, the degree could provide additional training for their work as nurses and psychologists. The course is also designed for professionals in the healthcare sector who can apply the knowledge to their daily work. In the future, job opportunities could arise in the area of primary care. Opportunities may also emerge in the area of education, as teachers on courses in the health sector.

The inclusion of the Child Life discipline in pediatric care in hospitals will become increasingly important. Although it is still not a very common concept (no doubt due to a lack of academic training in this area), it will gradually be incorporated into usual practice, as were the fields of dietetics, speech therapy, and other therapies and disciplines that are now commonly used. In no US or European (particularly British) hospitals, is the hospitalisation of a child considered without the guidance of a person specialised in emotional care.

Contact us

Campus Docent Sant Joan de Déu

Sant Benito Menni, 18-20
08830, Sant Boi de Llobregat

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