2016-2017 Academic Catalog 
    Mar 31, 2023  
2016-2017 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Undergraduate Academics and Special Programs

Clark’s undergraduate academic program is at the core of Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP). LEEP consists of three components: 1) an agreed upon set of learning outcomes that focus on tradition liberal learning goals as well as capacities of effective practice; 2) an integrated set of educational experiences that span across academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and 3) a developmental arc of learning that sees student development in terms of three phases: orientation, exploration, and enactment. For more details, please visit the LEEP webpages.

These three components interact: the five LEEP learning outcomes are encountered iteratively across the three developmental phases with each successive phase demanding greater foundational knowledge and demonstration of a student’s increasing ability to use habits of mind and tools of investigation associated with multiple ways of knowing. The LEEP learning model also expects students to assume increasing responsibility for organizing their own learning, and provides opportunities for students to integrate and apply knowledge across diverse contexts. Through emerging membership in communities of scholarship and practice, the LEEP framework provides opportunities for students to sharpen their capacities of effective practice as they progress toward graduation.


First-Year Intensives

All students participate in a common foundational experience called a First Year Intensive (FYI) course. These FYIs orient the student to the standards and practices of the university community. The professor who teaches each First Year Intensive also serves as academic adviser to the students until a major is declared. First Year Intensives initiate a student’s Clark career with a set of close relationships with both a professor and a small group of students who share at least one intellectual interest. All First Year Intensives fulfill a Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) requirement. The experience lays the groundwork for subsequent phases of development as a student moves toward graduation.

Program of Liberal Studies

Students are also required to complete Clark’s Program of Liberal Studies (PLS). Through this program, students acquire the intellectual habits, skills and perspectives that are essential to liberal education while simultaneously providing opportunities for students to experience the ways of thinking and tools of investigation used by scholars and practitioners. Despite the different skills and perspectives offered in PLS courses, all have been designed to help students meet the LEEP learning outcomes.

The Program of Liberal Studies has two components:

1. Critical Thinking Courses: While every course at the University involves work in critical thinking, two types of courses place special emphasis on the cultivation of these skills. Students take one course in each of these areas:

  • Verbal Expression: (VE) Verbal Expression courses place special emphasis on the relationship between writing and critical thinking within a particular discipline.
  • Formal Analysis: (FA) Formal Analysis courses include the use of a formal, symbolic language as appropriate for a specific discipline, rules of logic for that language, and the use of that language in modeling the subject matter of the discipline.

2. Perspectives Courses: Perspectives courses offer breadth and introduce students to the different ways in which various disciplines or fields define thinking, learning and knowing. Students must successfully complete one course in each of the following six perspectives categories. Each course must be taken in a different department:

  • Aesthetic: (AP) Aesthetic Perspective courses emphasize artistic expression and the perception, analysis and evaluation of aesthetic form. These courses are designed to enhance students’ appreciation and understanding of the arts.
  • Global Comparative: (GP) Global Comparative Perspective courses introduce students to comparative analysis by exploring the cultural, political or economic aspects of human diversity around the world. They provide students with tools for analyzing human experience by examining similarities and differences in a global or international context.
  • Historical: (HP) Historical Perspective courses develop a student’s capacity to understand the contemporary world in the larger framework of tradition and history. Courses focus on the problems of interpreting the past and can also deal with the relationship between past and present. All courses are broad in scope and introduce students to the ways scholars think critically about the past, present and future.
  • Language and Culture: (LP) Language and Culture Perspective courses foster the study of language as an expression of culture. Students may study foreign languages, which highlight the relationship between language and culture, or English-language courses that deal with the same issue.
  • Natural Scientific: (SP) Scientific Perspective courses teach the principal methods and results of the study of the natural world. Courses focus on the knowledge and theoretical bases of science. They also include laboratories or similar components that introduce students to the observation of natural phenomena and the nature of scientific study.
  • Values: (VP) Values Perspective courses examine the moral dimension of human life as reflected in personal behavior, institutional structures and public policy in local and global communities. Courses taught from the values perspective focus not only on the systematic formulation and analysis of moral and ethical claims, but also on how moral decisions affect both the individual and society.

Capstone in Major or Capstone Project

A capstone project is an experience through which students apply integrative learning. A capstone project requires a complex individual or group project that is substantially defined and carried forward by the student under the guidance of a faculty mentor and publicly demonstrates accomplishment of Clark’s Liberal Education goals, especially a capacity to practice within an academic or professional field effectively.


Departmental, Interdisciplinary and Student-Designed Majors

While most Clark students can and do fulfill their academic goals through regularly established departments and interdisciplinary programs, the University recognizes that some students may have special interests and goals that cannot be met through normal channels. The student-designed major program is intended to provide flexibility for these students while ensuring rigorous academic standards. Students are normally expected to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to pursue the student-designed major. Student-designed majors are coordinated through the office of the Dean of the College and developed with the guidance of three faculty advisers. They must be approved by the Dean’s Office prior to the beginning of junior year. Guidelines for the Student-Designed Major  are found within the Programs of Study.

Accelerated B.A./Master’s Degree Programs

Clark offers several programs that allow students to complete the requirements for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in an accelerated, five-year period. Students may obtain a Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.), Master of Science in Finance (M.S.F.), Master of Science in Professional Communication (M.S.P.C.), and Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.). Students apply to the accelerated B.A./Master’s degree programs in their junior year, and begin taking graduate level courses during their senior year. These graduate courses provide academic credit toward completion of the bachelor’s degree and fulfill some of the course requirements of the graduate degree. Eligible students are admitted into the graduate program of their choice upon receipt of the BA degree, and typically, in a fifth year of study complete the course requirements for the master’s degree.

To qualify for a full (100%) tuition scholarship (maximum of 10 courses) during the fifth year, Clark undergraduate day school students must: be a full-time undergraduate student for four years (eight semesters) at Clark; meet the entry requirements of the chosen graduate program; achieve a 3.40* GPA for the second and third years of study in aggregate; apply to the program by May 1st of the junior year; (or November 1 if the second semester of the junior year is in the fall semester); achieve a 3.40* GPA for the fourth year of study; complete the B.A. degree within five years of initial entry to Clark University.

Undergraduates who transfer to Clark may be eligible for a 50 percent tuition scholarship (maximum of 10 courses) during their fifth year under the following conditions: be a full-time student for at least one full academic year prior to admission at the end of the junior year; obtain a GPA of at least 3.40* for whatever portion of the sophomore and junior year coursework taken at Clark in aggregate; maintain a GPA of at least 3.40* during the senior year; apply to the graduate program of your choice by May 1 (or November 1 if the second semester of the junior year is in the fall semester); meet the entry requirements of the chosen graduate program.

Accelerated Degree Programs are listed in the Programs of Study  section under the heading Accelerated Degree within this catalog. For additional information click on Accelerated Degree Program Policies and Procedures .

For further information, visit www.clarku.edu/accelerate or contact the Graduate Admissions Office via email (gradadmissions@clarku.edu)  or at (508) 793-7373.

*Individual departments may have additional requirements including a potentially higher GPA. Geographic Information Science requires a 3.6 GPA, International Development & Social Change requires a 3.5 GPA.

Additional Academic Opportunities

The Henry J. Leir Luxembourg Program at Clark University (LLP-CU)

The LLP-CU offers various opportunities for students and faculty to study and research abroad. For example, students can participate in the May Term for about four weeks to take a course in Luxembourg taught by Clark faculty, or participate in internships with key the Grand Duchy’s institutions, such as Luxembourg’s national museum, the Musée national d’histoire et d’art and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, the nation’s leading scientific institution in environmental science. For further information, please contact the Luxembourg Office at LuxembourgPrograms@clarku.edu or (508) 793-7634.

Study Abroad and Study Away

The Study Abroad and Away Programs office advises students about the opportunities to study abroad or away for academic credit. Students explore how studying abroad or away can complement and enhance their academic and personal growth experience at Clark and beyond. They are provided with support throughout the selection and application process, during the time they are abroad, and upon their return. The University offers a wide variety of semester and year-long opportunities for students to participate in research, foreign language study, cross-cultural immersion, experiential learning, and community engagement. It is important to begin learning about study abroad/away opportunities during the students first year at Clark, as early planning and research is key to maximizing the benefits of their experience. Students should attend a Study Abroad 101 information session as soon as they decide they want to study abroad. Requirements for application include that students be in good academic and social standing prior to departure, have a minimum GPA of 3.0 (some programs require a higher GPA), and have been in residence at Clark for at least one year prior to studying abroad/away for a semester or year. Before students arrange an interview with a Study Abroad/Study Away staff adviser they should have decided upon a major and have a faculty advisor within that major. This will allow the students to successfully integrate their program abroad with their graduation requirements. The Study Abroad and Study Away Programs staff will also help students wishing to participate in study abroad through other institutions or non-affiliated programs, both during the summer and during the academic year.

3/2 Engineering Program

Currently Clark offers the 3/2 engineering program with Columbia University.  The program consists of three years of studies at Clark followed by two years at Columbia University. The program leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark and a Bachelor of Science in engineering degree from Columbia University. For more information, contact program coordinator Professor Charles Agosta in the Physics Department.

Preprofessional Programs

Clark University recognizes that preparation for a professional career is fully compatible with a liberal-arts education. The Prelaw program might interest those looking for a career or background in law. For more information, contact Mark Miller, University Pre-Law Advisor. 

There are many health-related careers and the path to any of these careers can be very different.  Clark values the importance of educating future physicians and other members of the health care professions.  More detailed information about medical careers and how to pursue them is available by visiting the Prehealth webpage or by contacting David Thurlow, Chair, Prehealth Advisory Committee.

LEEP Project

LEEP Projects are problem-based projects that students complete during the summer working alongside a faculty mentor and with an external organization.  These projects offer real-world application of course material, provide an opportunity to engage with others outside of Clark, and enhance mastery of the LEEP learning outcomes.

Problems of Practice (PoP)Courses

A Problems of Practice (PoP) course will provide students with an experience of knowledge and skills at work in the world and potentially in their future professional lives. These courses will often be project-based experiences in which students work as a team for an extended period of time, led by a faculty member, to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. Students in a PoP course will engage with an extended network of collaborators who might include older peers (as Peer Learning Assistants), graduate students, and experts from beyond the campus. With a specific problem or emergent issue, the PoP experience is immersive, exposes the productive tension between theory and practice, and is, by definition, risky, messy and does not yield to tidy solutions at the end of the term. These courses do not examine methods in a vacuum, but put methods into contextually-appropriate practice. The PoP experience necessitates reflection on self, the field, and the development of one’s identity within it. These courses are generally intermediate level experiences through which students will develop a “feel for the game,” and by modeling independent and collaborative work, will prepare students to flourish in their LEEP Culminating Capstone and their career after graduation from Clark. Students will demonstrate their achievement through persistence, willingness to embrace confusion, constraints, identifying options, and making well-reasoned decisions despite uncertainty about outcomes. These courses will involve public demonstrations with evaluations of consequence beyond the classroom, as well as a grade.

Colleges of Worcester Consortium (HECCMA)

Clark is part of The Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts (HECCMA). Clark’s membership in this organization allows you to supplement your program with courses offered at the eleven other schools in the Consortium. All full-time undergraduate day students, except first year students and first semester transfer students, may enroll in one course per semester (fall or spring) at any of the following schools:

Cross-registration forms with instructions on registration procedures can be found online. More information, including a course search engine, cross registration policies, and ride sharing opportunities is available on the HECCMA web site.

Internship Database
Internships provide unique opportunities to experience career fields and industries before officially entering the workforce. Use this Consortium-wide database to explore the opportunities that exist in our area and consult with your professors and/or Career Services office to find the right match for you.