2015-2016 Academic Catalog 
    Jun 16, 2024  
2015-2016 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

History of Clark

Clark University is a teaching and research institution 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 in the United States to offer formal graduate programs, second only to Johns Hopkins University.


Clark has played a prominent role in the development of several academic disciplines, including psychology, geography and interdisciplinary environmental studies. Clark’s first president was G. Stanley Hall, founder of the American Psychological Association, and the University was the location for Sigmund Freud’s famous “Clark Lectures” in 1909, introducing psychoanalysis to this country. Clark’s Graduate School of Geography has granted more Ph.D.s in that field than any other program in the country. The George Perkins Marsh Institute was the first research center created to study the human dimensions of global environmental change.


Researchers who have held Clark appointments include A.A. Michelson, the first U.S. Nobel Prize winner in the sciences; and Robert Goddard, the father of the space age and the inventor of rocket technology. Other researchers at Clark, for instance, created the formula for the wind-chill factor, defined chemical double bonding, developed research leading to the birth control pill, and made the first breakthrough in understanding how brain tissue regenerates itself.

Today, Clark continues this legacy of innovation with a research program that bridges knowledge and practice. In recent years, Clark University faculty have been at the forefront of major research and policy initiatives, such as the United Nations program charged with developing a long term strategy for addressing HIV-AIDS (aids2031), the Earth Transformed project on environmental sustainability, and research on emerging adolescence and on men’s mental health.

Clark University was the first university in the country to offer a Ph.D. in Holocaust history and genocide studies. When the Ford Foundation wanted to promote academic freedom and religious, cultural, and political pluralism on college and university campuses in the United States, it funded Clark, among 43 institutions nationwide, to launch the Difficult Dialogues program. Clark’s work in urban education and our partnership with the Worcester public secondary school, the University Park Campus School, receive national and international acclaim.