2011-2012 Academic Catalog 
    Feb 21, 2024  
2011-2012 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography, PhD

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Graduate Program

The Graduate School of Geography has awarded more doctorate degrees than any other geography program in the United States. We invite applications for admittance to our program from students interested in pursuing a PhD degree. Students are not accepted for master’s studies only, although many choose to earn that degree en route to the doctorate, and the M.A. is also available to those who leave the program early. For information on the Master of Arts in Geographic Information Sciences for Development and Environment,  please see the program’s Web site at www.clarku.edu/departments/idce/gis.

Applicants with or without prior training in geography are welcome to apply to the PhD program.  This normally takes five years to complete, including writing and defending a dissertation. Depending on their concentrations, students may be required to improve their knowledge of geography, cartography, quantitative methods or research methods. Graduate Record Examination scores (verbal, quantitative and analytical) are required of all American and Canadian students, as well as international students who are in an academic program where English is the first language. TOEFL scores or results of another English proficiency test and the TOEFL test of spoken English (TSE) are required for students from countries in which English is not the first language. The deadline for graduate applications is December 31. All applicants receive careful consideration from a faculty-student admissions committee, which meets early in the spring semester to evaluate candidates. For further information and/or application materials (which may be downloaded), please view our Web site at www.clarku.edu/departments/geography or contact Brenda Nikas-Hayes, Graduate Program Administrator, in writing or by telephone: (508) 793-7337 or 7336; fax: (508) 793-8881; or e-mail: BNikasHayes@clarku.edu.


Hilary Laraba: Managing Editor, Economic Geography

Beverly Presley, A.M.L.S.: Map and Geography Librarian

Brenda Nikas-Hayes: Geography Graduate Program Administrator

Jean Heffernan: Assistant to the Director


Graduate Requirements

Applicants should request a copy of current guidelines and degree requirements from Brenda Nikas-Hayes, Graduate Program Administrator (BNikasHayes@clarku.edu).

The graduate curriculum provides an opportunity for students to pursue studies across the full array of geography: human geography (space-society), human-environment geography (nature-society), Earth System Science, Geographic Information Science/Remote Sensing, Urban and Economic geography. Students are encouraged to explore faculty and research interests across these geographies in combination with work in complementary fields and disciplines within and outside of Clark.

Requirements include 8 semesters of courses (including directed sreadings, research and thesis/dissertation work), satisfactory completion of doctoral examinations; fulfillment of a skills requirement; and completion, acceptance and successful defense of a dissertation research proposal and completion, acceptance and successful defense of a dissertation. Also required are three years of residence. The normal course load is three courses per semester. The usual sequence students follow is: course work, doctoral exam, research proposal, and dissertation research, write up and defense.

In the first year, students normally complete the two required courses, GEOG 318 - Explanation in Geography  and GEOG 368 - The Development of Western Geographic Thought , and take additional courses including seminars and professional development workshops (PDW) to help define and refine their research interests and professional skills needs.  PDWs can include but are not exclusive to grant preparation, teaching skills techniques and job interviewing as well as introducing the faculty of the school to the student body. Students then meet for an end-of-year review with advisers for evaluation and planning.

In the second year, students are encouraged to fulfill the skills requirement, to prepare for doctoral exams and to begin dissertation proposal formulation. Course work normally includes seminars, directed readings and directed research. A review of the student’s progress is held at the end of the year.

Students who have not already completed their doctoral exams and dissertation proposal are expected to do so in the third year of study.

Students must demonstrate, through course work or examination, proficiency in two of the following areas: multivariate statistics, research design/research methods, geographic information systems, foreign language, or other courses approved by the student’s faculty adviser, the Graduate Advisor and the Director of the Graduate School of Geography.

The doctoral exam assesses the competency of a graduate student in one major and two minor fields. Competency is defined as an understanding of the substantive content and range of theoretical approaches within each subfield. Students must be able to critique the alternative research traditions and defend the theoretical frameworks they adopt. They are expected to have in-depth knowledge of the major field, to master a survey of the first minor field, and to demonstrate detailed knowledge of a single subfield in the second minor.

The doctoral examination is conducted orally. The examination in the major field lasts approximately one-and-a-half hours, and each minor takes about 45 minutes. At the student’s discretion, the major and/or first minor may have a written component, which is in addition to the oral examination.

A formal research proposal for dissertation work must be completed and approved by a committee of at least four faculty (two readers and two reviewers), three of whom are full-time faculty members of the Graduate School of Geography and one external member. The chair of the committee is always a full-time member of the Graduate School of Geography. The proposal is approved after a formal defense before the committee.

The process of conducting and writing up the dissertation research involves close interaction between student and committee members. After extensive criticism and rewriting, a draft thesis is defended at a working session of the committee. A final version incorporating changes suggested at the draft stage is submitted for approval by the dissertation committee and then forwarded to the Director for final approval. The Director then forwards the completed approved dissertation to the Dean of the Graduate School.

For more detailed information regarding the Graduate School of Geography, please visit: http://clarku.edu/departments/geography/phd.cfm or the Graduate Program Administrator, Brenda Nikas-Hayes, bnikashayes@clarku.edu.

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