Child Development and Child Advocacy

Academic disciplines in child development and child advocacy focus on child care, adult training and family support. Students will be prepared for employment in a range of child-related careers that include working with children and their families in hospitals and other settings, administration of child care centers, pre-school, and parents programs, and supporting families with children through a range of ages. Please note: These degrees to not lead to licensure. 

Child Development and Family Studies, (B.P.S.)

Students will learn how to create effective learning environments to promote children's healthy development as well as assist parents in creating positive relationships and environments for the development of their children. In addition, students study the stages of development from infancy through adolescence and the ways that family, culture, peers, and schools influence the growth of children. Students will also explore the importance of advocacy for children and their families whether it is in the classroom, hospital or justice system. Child Development and Family Studies courses are designed to reflect professional standards set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). These standards are critical indicators of program quality. 

Child Life Specialist, (B.P.S.)

Child life specialists are professionals who work closely with children and their families in hospitals and other settings to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness, and disability. Child life specialists provide children with age-appropriate preparation for medical procedures, pain management and coping strategies through a variety of different activities. Students must complete the application process as the field is highly selective.

Early Care and Learning, (B.P.S)

The Early Care and Learning emphasis provides a foundation for a career in working with young children (0-4) in early care and education and other applied settings. Students who choose this emphasis are expected to develop knowledge and skills in child development and learning, observation and assessment, pedagogy and research through classroom and field experiences. Students will be prepared for employment in a discipline working with children and families, and may pursue graduate training that leads to careers in education, academia, research, health professions, or social work.

Early Care and Learning Administration, (B.P.S.)

Careers in the administration of early childhood programs including child care centers, both for-profit and non-profit; private and public pre-kindergarten programs; Head Start; pre-schools; parents' day out programs; before and after school care; and centers for children with special needs. Also served by these guidelines are persons with experience in childcare settings from a variety of backgrounds, including childcare volunteers and aides as well as teachers and directors.

Early Intervention Specialist, (B.P.S.)

Early Intervention Specialist focuses on recognizing the uniqueness of the provision of instruction and/or service coordination in the field of Part C the Federal IDEA legislation for early intervention (ages 0-2). Students will learn how to promote caregiver-child interaction by assisting families to adapt routines and activities to support children's (ages 0-2) learning and interaction. In addition, students will be introduced to adult learning approaches to support caregivers and understand how cultural diversity affects family interactions and practices.

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Admission to the Program

Undergraduate students admitted to University of Memphis may pursue a degree in the College of Professional and Liberal Studies by completing Declaration of Major form. 

Once accepted, students must seek academic advising prior to the start of each semester. Advisors will provide guidance in developing a meaningful educational plan that is compatible with the student's abilities, values, interests and career goals. Academic advising is available in-person, by phone and web conference. 

Fees and Scholarships

Students are encouraged to visit University and Student Business Services regularly to review fee charts, deadlines and other important details as they are subject to change. 

The College of Professional and Liberal Studies offers several scholarships for students meeting the stated requirements. Students may apply for scholarships through Tiger Scholarship Manager

Degree Requirements

Students in the Child Development and Child Advocacy concentrations will select from a set of courses in historical, social, cultural, and educational contexts. Requirements for this program include general education, a coordinated study, internship, thematic studies, senior project and general electives. Students should seek guidance from their advisor every semester and follow the assigned degree plan.  Please note this degree does not lead to licensure. A minor may be pursued with this degree through the submission of a completed minor application. Approval must be granted from the graduation analyst of the minor they are seeking as well as the College of Professional and Liberal Studies graduation analyst. Please note: These degrees to not lead to licensure.

Thematic Studies

Thematic studies focus on significant themes in social, political, and religious history. All College of Professional and Liberal Studies students must complete 6 credit hours of thematic studies courses. These courses are offered on campus and online in many interdisciplinary topics.


All students pursuing the Child Development and Family Studies concentration will be required to secure an internship as part of their degree requirements. Successful internships provide valuable learning experiences related to coursework and areas of study under the supervision of a faculty member and an employer in the community.

Prior Learning Assessment

Students who wish to accelerate the completion of their degree may be eligible to earn credit through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) which includes credit earned by CLEP or DSST standardized exams, Experiential Learning Credit, or departmental credit by examination.

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File for Graduation

Undergraduate students who are within two semesters of graduation should review the required process to file for graduation. All parts must be completed by the posted deadline. 

Career Development

Students interested in learning more about career options in Child Development and Child Advocacy should review information and set an appointment to meet with a Career Specialist in our Career Services Office.

Local and National Organizations

Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
Association of Child Life Professionals
Association for Childhood Education International
National Association for Family Child Care
Association for Early Learning Leaders
Tennessee Early Intervention System