Bachelors in Family Studies – Child Life


We offer a major that is flexible in content and has an emphasis on practical application. Students have an opportunity to explore functional and dysfunctional family systems dynamics and to take courses focused on childhood and adolescence, trauma, familial relationships, and family counseling. Individuals who want to work with families, couples, or children will be set up for success with a Bachelor of Arts in Family Studies from Arizona Christian University.

Mission Statement: Arizona Christian University’s Family Studies program prepares students to assist families through service and research by framing relevant knowledge and skills with a biblical worldview.

Vision Statement: The vision of ACU’s Family Study Major program is to graduate superior evaluators of family study research and theory, Christ-like practitioners, and agents of change in the lives of families.

Graduates are prepared to:

  • Increase children’s coping skills and apply interventions to reduce stress in children and families.
  • Describe the child life field – key concepts, history, theory.
  • Apply play activities and other treatment preparation techniques to reduce stress in children and families.
  • Apply theory to trauma treatment.
  • Apply basic play therapy techniques.

Why Child Life at ACU?

In addition to a faculty to student ratio of 17:1 and a rigorous and biblically-integrated curriculum, ACU’s Family Studies program offers several unique advantages:

  • Our unique department is staffed with clinically-active faculty, who are able to provide insightful information based on their vast professional experiences.
  • Students will graduate as provisionally Certified Family Life Educators by the National Counsil on Family Relations.
  • What is Family Life Education? (
  • This is a terminal degree, therefore students are prepared to enter the workforce or their graduate studies with significant confidence in their educational experiences.
  • For over 20 years, many of our graduates have continued their studies to pursue careers as licensed marriage & family therapists, counselors, and social workers.
  • Child Life Practicum, Play Therapy, Trauma & Families, Loss, Bereavement and Dying, Child Life

What will I study?

Following completion of a Bachelor of Arts in Family Studies – Child Life from ACU, students will:

  • Be able to identify and evaluate psychological, spiritual, physical, and social contributors to optimal human development
  • Be able to evaluate families and their functioning using research and systemic theories
  • Be able to design, implement, and evaluate family life education programs
  • Explore and evaluate societal issues that impact families
  • Explore career options

Undergraduate students are introduced to fascinating topics through mandatory and elective courses that are often preserved for graduate studies, including:

  • Trauma and families
  • Play therapy
  • Family structure and dynamics
  • Parent/child relations
  • Gender studies
  • Family resource management
  • Grief and loss in families
  • Public policy
  • Transformational marriage
  • Early learning environments
  • Poverty


Career Paths

Graduates are well-equipped to continue their education to become licensed marriage and family therapists, children’s counselors, to pursue family law careers, or to advance their careers in social work, child life, or ministry. This program focuses specifically on preparing students to be competitive in pursuing a post-bac. Child Life Internship. Other career options include child welfare worker, family support specialist, parent aid, case manager, &public policy lobbyist (i.e. sex-trafficking, child protection).

  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Children’s Therapists
  • Trauma Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Child Behavioral Specialists
  • Case Managers
  • Ministries (Family, Children’s, Women’s)
  • Motivational Speakers
  • Victim Witness Advocates
  • Child Protective Services
  • Public Policy and Lobbying (i.e., sex-trafficking, child protection)
  • Coaching

Graduate education preparation for programs such as Human Development, Health Care Administration, Public Policy, Health Psychology, Counseling, Family Therapy, Family Studies.


Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Arizona Christian University
Building 2000
1 W. Firestorm Way
Glendale, AZ 85306

(602) 489-5300

[email protected]

Academic Major Courses

Core requirements accumulate to 30 credits, 15 credits of General Biblical and Theological Studies courses and 8 credits of foreign language courses. 3 credits of Upper Division Biblical and Theological Studies electives are required.

CourseCourse NameCredits
FAM 200Family Resource Management3
FAM 316Family Structure and Function3
PSY 320Cross-Cultural Counseling3
FAM 332Public Policy and the Family3
FAM 425Parent/Child Relations3
FAM 435Family Life Education3
FAM 490Family Studies Capstone3
PSY 210Statistics for Behavioral Studies3
PSY 212Research Methods3
FAM 261Human Development for Young Child1
FAM 314Adolescent Psychology3
FAM 409Child Life3
FAM 411Child Life Internship I3
FAM 412Child Life Internship II3
FAM 414Loss, Bereavement, & Dying1
FAM 415Introduction to Play Therapy1
FAM 416Trauma and Families1
FAM 440Gender Studies3


At Arizona Christian, we structure our programs to effectively prepare students to transform culture in their workplace. Our checksheets are annual guides that support students along the path toward graduation.




Our professors are experts in their respective fields and passionate about the subjects they teach; they challenge, and stretch their students to reach their goals. Students are encouraged to think critically and analyze what they learn in the classroom thoroughly. These are some of the professors you will work closely with:

Carolyn Pela, Ph.D., LMFT, CFLE

Assistant Dean School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities

[email protected]

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