Child and Family Studies

CFS students sponsoring a Mom’s Morning Out program.


Designed to work with a wide spectrum of the human family, Child and Family Studies majors evidence a genuine concern for and interest in the welfare of children, families, and the general well-being of others. It is critical for students of Child and Family Studies to serve as willing advocates for changes in political and other systems and set aside prejudices in order to view each individual as a person of worth. As professionals, we believe in the ability of persons to change and grow and to assist persons within ethical guidelines.

The program is designed around the life lab concept emphasizing a partnership between academics and out of classroom placements. Core courses are designed to provide students with hands-on experiences through service-learning placements such as: Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services, the Benefit Bank, The Sickle Cell Association, YMCA, The Nurturing Center, Co-operative Ministries, EdVenture Children’s Museum, Harvest Hope Food Bank, Children’s Garden, and Richland County First Steps.

 Students are required to enroll in a semester practicum during the second year in order to understand the possibilities and complexities of their vocational choice. In the senior year, students are required to enroll in a second practicum in order to gain professional experience, network in their area of specialty, and bridge academics and practice.

Professional Services

This emphasis provides students with the capacity to work with families throughout the entire life span from early interventionist positions to work with senior centers and end of life care. It also provides a sound foundation for graduate work in family therapy, family law, family ministry, or family health care. Emphasis on family dynamics prepares students for a number of professional options such as:

  •  Family Service Coordinator
  •  Parent Educator
  •  Early Interventionist
  •  School/Home Liaison
  •  Early Care/Elder Care
  •  Nonprofit services for children and families
  •  Graduate study in law, health care, therapy, ministry, etc

Child Life 

The Child Life Specialist major, developed in partnership with Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, provides students with powerful opportunities for experiential learning as well as academic study.  Students begin clinical courses during the fall semester of their sophomore year, continue in clinical service-learning courses throughout the CLS curriculum and must complete a clinical internship during their senior year in order to graduate from the program.  While rigorous, the program is designed such that students may qualify to sit for their national examination after graduation.

The national certification requires stipulated coursework and designated clinical practicum hours.  The Columbia College program is distinct in that students build their clinical hours during their years at the college as opposed to other programs targeting only academic training.  We believe that our students are uniquely poised to work with children and families in promoting excellent care and human dignity.

  • Sophomore Year—coursework in the values and ethics of the profession and in skills necessary for working with hospitalized children.  Hospital introduction and clinical rotations
  • Junior Year—service-learning through courses in interventions for families and children, death and dying, and/or parent education and clinical practicum
  • Senior Year—clinical internships during the course of either the fall or spring semester



Experts in child development and family centered care, child life specialists are trained to assist children and families cope with and master stressful experiences.  While primarily employed by children’s hospitals, you may also find child life specialists in pediatric medical practices, dental practices, hospice organizations and funeral homes.  In the hospital setting, students will assess and implement care plans that may encompass everything from play to procedure preparation to end of life memory making.  With coursework in family dynamics, child development, anatomy and physiology, parent education, death and dying, education, and psychology, they are poised for maximum professional appeal and employability.  In a highly competitive field, our program is designed to provide students with the experiential/academic edge that will make them a vital part of the healthcare team