2019-2020 Academic Catalog 
    Jul 20, 2024  
2019-2020 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. The FYI is designed to set the stage for the improved learning at Clark by providing challenging experiences that make a difference to a student’s academic and community engagement. 

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.

Diversity & Inclusion

At Clark University, learning and teaching take place within a diverse and inclusive community. We teach and learn from each other, formally and informally, both inside and beyond the classroom. We challenge one another’s beliefs and assumptions. We extend one another’s range of experience. We teach one another to see the world from different and sometimes challenging perspectives. We share one another’s concerns, and we respect one another’s dignity, regardless of race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, age, ability, citizenship, nationality or ethnicity. Every undergraduate student at Clark University shall be required to complete a course with a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) attribute. Most courses bearing the Diversity and Inclusion attribute shall have a substantial focus on issues of race, gender, or ethnicity, but others may address issues of religion, age, sexuality, ability, nationality or class. All courses bearing the Diversity and Inclusion attribute engage students in the critical analysis of such topics as power, intersectionality, inequality, marginality, and identity.

Departmental, Interdisciplinary and Student-Designed Majors

While most Clark students can and do complete an academic major through regularly-established departments and interdisciplinary programs, the University recognizes that some students may develop an interest in an area of study that cuts across existing majors, maintains intellectual rigor and coherence, and draws on existing faculty expertise.  In these cases, the Student-Designed Major (SDM) provides flexibility for these students while ensuring rigorous academic standards.

Departments at Clark work hard to conceptualize majors that provide a high degree of structure and coherence, and that ensure students will gain both depth in a single discipline, and breadth within the discipline and related disciplines. The freedom to develop an independent SDM should entail an intellectual effort comparable to that which departments experience in developing their majors. In fact, this activity-conceptualizing a major with the same intellectual rigor as any established major-is perhaps the most demanding and the most rewarding aspect of the SDM.

Because most students will fulfill their major through an existing program, the SDM should only be considered by those students who have thought deeply about an alternative area of study for a major. In addition, there are a few university requirements for any student considering the SDM. 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. These programs are listed in the Programs of Study  section under the heading Accelerated Degree witin this catalog.  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. Eligible students who complete their undergraduate degree requirements in seven semesters of full-time study will be eligible for 75^ percent tuition remission in the graduate progam.

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 limit the amount of the tuition scholarship awarded for select programs, please see the ADP listing for specific limitations.

*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 in the major and completion of honors, History requires completion of honors in the major.

Additional Academic Opportunities

The Henry J. and Erna D. 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 The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg taught by Clark faculty, or participate in internships with key institutions in the Grand Duchy, such as Luxembourg’s national art and history 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

Information on Study Abroad and Away can be found within the Departments and Offices section of this catalog.

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 Denis LaRochelle, 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 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.