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Clark University Home > Academic Catalog

Clark University    
  Dec 16, 2017
2010-2011 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

History of Clark

Clark University was founded in 1887 as the first all-graduate school in the United States. Until Clark instituted undergraduate programs in 1902, the university offered only Ph.D.-granting programs. Clark is also one of the oldest universities to offer formal graduate programs, second only to Johns Hopkins University, and is one of only three New England universities, with Harvard and Yale, to be a founding member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.

Clark claims many firsts in the exploration of intellectual frontiers. The university’s first president, G. Stanley Hall, earned the first Ph.D. in psychology in this country at Harvard,* went on to found the American Psychological Association and was the first to identify adolescence as a separate stage of human development. Clark has played a prominent role in the development of psychology as a distinguished discipline in the United States. Clark was the location for Sigmund Freud’s famous “Clark Lectures” in 1909, introducing psychoanalysis to this country.

Clark has also played an important role in the development of geography as a discipline. Clark has granted more Ph.D.s in this environmentally related area than any other school in the nation. The George Perkins Marsh Institute was the first research center created to study the human dimensions of global environmental change.

In 1907 Clark professor A. A. Michelson received the Nobel Prize for physics, becoming the first American to win a Nobel Prize in the sciences. Clark alumnus and professor Robert Goddard is known as the father of the space age because of his development and launch of the first liquid-fueled rocket. Alumnus and arctic explorer Paul Siple was the first to develop and measure the wind-chill factor. Other researchers at Clark defined chemical double bonding, developed research leading to the birth control pill and made the first breakthrough in understanding how brain tissue regenerates itself.

Explore Clark’s history decade by decade.

* FUN FACT: You may wonder, if Clark and Johns Hopkins were the first schools in the United States to offer formalized graduate programs, how could Hall have earned a Ph.D. at Harvard?

According to Mott Linn, Clark history buff and coordinator of archives and special collections at Goddard Library, although Clark and Johns Hopkins were the first in the U.S. to offer formalized graduate programs, it didn’t mean that someone during that time could not earn a Ph.D. from a U.S. undergraduate institution like Harvard. It didn’t happen very often, but when it did, the curriculum was planned specifically for the person seeking the degree. So although Hall earned a Ph.D. at Harvard, it was not through a formalized graduate program at a graduate school.