2011-2012 Academic Catalog 
    Mar 04, 2024  
2011-2012 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Program

A Clark education is unique in that it provides a high-quality liberal arts education with personal attention and advanced study opportunities. Most students begin their Clark career with a first-year intensive, designed to help them develop the skills and habits of mind they will need to succeed at Clark. Clark has developed a unique program of liberal studies that fosters critical thinking skills and broadens perspectives. Because they can choose among many different courses, students can take courses that interest them and, at the same time, satisfy their broad liberal arts requirements.

By the spring of sophomore year, students declare a major in which they develop depth and expertise. The University offers 31 majors, 30 minors and nine interdisciplinary concentrations, which can be combined to match individual interests and academic goals. Once students choose a major, their academic department becomes their intellectual “home,” where they are able to work closely with faculty on research and other creative projects. As students acquire increasing depth and sophistication in a field of their choosing, they are able to take advantage of Clark’s wide array of courses to construct an individualized program of study suited to their interests and career goals. In many fields, students have the opportunity to enter an honors program or accelerate to an advanced degree.

First-Year Intensives

First-year intensives allow students to explore, in depth, various issues and subjects. First-year intensives focus on helping students develop core academic skills that will enhance success in later Clark courses: reading, writing, speaking, thinking, and debating, all at the college level of intellectual sophistication. Intensives are stimulating, and challenging, and are limited to no more than 16 students each. The professor who teaches each first-year intensive also serves as academic advisor to the students in the seminar until they declare a major. Thus, students who enroll in first-year intensives start their Clark careers by developing a close relationship with both a professor and a small group of students who share at least one intellectual interest. All first-year intensives fill a Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) requirement.

First-year intensives change from year to year.

Program of Liberal Studies

The foundation of a Clark undergraduate education is the Program of Liberal Studies. Through this program, students acquire the intellectual habits, skills and perspectives that are essential for self-directed learning. They are given a framework within which they can select a program of study and receive a broad introduction to liberal and lifelong learning. Students have the option of fulfilling the requirements of the Program of Liberal Studies through the International Studies Stream, a special program, which consists of courses that prepare them to better understand global, political, cultural and economic issues.

The Program of Liberal Studies has two components:


1. Critical Thinking Courses: While every course in 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: Verbal Expression courses place special emphasis on the relationship between writing and critical thinking within a particular discipline.
  • Formal Analysis: 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 for 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, with each course taken in a different academic department:

  • Aesthetic: 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: 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: Historical Perspective courses develop students’ 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: 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: 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 to introduce students to the observation of natural phenomena and the nature of scientific study.
  • Values: 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.


Departmental, Interdisciplinary and Student-Designed Majors

Sometime before the end of their sophomore year, students choose a major—the area in which they will pursue a course of study in depth. Students may choose a traditional discipline or an interdisciplinary major, or in some cases, may design a major tailored to their particular academic interests. While anchored in one area, the undergraduate major is structured to include courses in related disciplines. This ensures that breadth of knowledge is gained along with specialization. A major consists of 12 to 19 courses designated by a department or program. Majors must be declared prior to the beginning of the junior year. View departments web page.

Majors are offered in:

Interdisciplinary Majors

One of Clark’s strengths is the eagerness of faculty and students to cross the traditional boundaries between academic fields. Interdisciplinary majors, special programs and concentrations help students to see beyond the barriers of academic specialization.

Student-Designed Major

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 by the associate dean of the college and developed with the guidance of three faculty advisers. They must be approved by the associate dean of the college by the beginning of the junior year. Guidelines for student-designed majors are available in the Dean of the College Office and in the Academic Advising Center.


Minors give students an opportunity to gain depth in an academic area in addition to their major field of study. Minors are offered in:


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 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.), master of arts in teaching (M.A.T.) or master of arts in education (M.A.Ed.). Students apply to the accelerated B.A./Master’s degree programs in their junior year, begin meeting requirements in their senior year, and complete those requirements in the fifth year. Bachelor’s degrees are granted en route to the master’s degree.

For students meeting eligibility requirements, the fifth year is tuition free. To qualify for free tuition in the fifth year, a student must: be a full-time undergraduate for four years at Clark; meet bachelor’s/master’s course prerequisites and receive a Clark bachelor’s degree within five years of initial entry into Clark; earn an overall 3.25 grade-point average during the second and third years and again in the fourth year.

Undergraduates who transfer to Clark are eligible for a 50 percent tuition fellowship during the fifth year of study. To qualify, a transfer student must begin full-time study at Clark no later than the end of the sophomore year; earn at least a 3.25 grade-point average for courses taken at Clark; maintain a 3.25 grade-point average during the fourth year; and meet program course requirements.

The University has approved accelerated programs in biology; business administration; chemistry; community development and planning; education; environmental science and policy; finance; geographic information science; history; international development and social change; physics; professional communications; and public adminstration.

For further information and application procedures, visit www.clarku.edu/accelerate or contact the Graduate School at (508) 793-7676.

Preprofessional Programs

Clark University recognizes that preparation for a professional career is fully compatible with a liberal-arts education. The Prelaw Program is administered through Career Services in conjunction with a faculty advisory committee. Contact Career Services for more information. Students interested in any career related to medicine are advised through the Medical Careers Advising Program. Those specifically interested in applying to doctoral level programs of medicine or dentistry work with the Premedical and Predental Advisory Committee. For more information, contact advisory committee chair David Thurlow, Department of Chemistry. Learn more.


Students are offered the opportunity to earn credit working off campus as part of their educational program. Academic credit is offered for internships that take place under the supervision of carefully selected agency sponsors in conjunction with appropriate Clark faculty. More information on academic internships can be found on the Career Services Web pages.

Clark also participates in the Washington Semester Program with American University in Washington, D.C., and the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. Qualified students may participate in these programs and spend a semester studying and working in the nation’s capital. Both programs are coordinated by Adriane van Gils, Community Engagement and Volunteering Center.