Stained glass from the Geography building at Clark

Clark Geography Top-Ranked in the Nation

Clark’s Graduate School of Geography is top-ranked in the most recent ranking by the National Research Council.

On April 21st, 2011, the National Research Council updated the findings of its Data-Based Assessment on Research Doctorate Programs in the United States, the initial version of which was published in September 2010. The update recalculated the so-called "R" and "S" rankings, each through two different methods. As a result, Clark's Graduate School of Geography now ties 1st among US geography programs on the primary calculation of the R ranking. (Clark Geography's rankings are summarized below, where a brief explanation of the R and S rankings can also be found).

Furthermore, among the 49 Geography programs assessed, Clark is one of a smaller number of departments that sustains a balanced program of research and doctoral education across the full breadth of the discipline – indeed we are committed to maintaining and integrating across this breadth. Clark’s Graduate School of Geography is also the only top-10 doctoral department that is located within a liberal arts based, student contact intensive research university. We fall among the top three departments for number of PhDs granted p.a., for the percentage of our doctoral students with external funding, and for international diversity of graduate students. All our doctoral students receive full funding (tuition and stipend) on acceptance, and on graduating have been consistently successful in occupying both academic and senior policy and applied professional positions – this is a balance that we take seriously.

Since the 2006 census date for the NRC assessment our successes in securing research grants and in placing our graduate students have improved yet further, and our doctoral students now receive health insurance.

NRC Rankings Q&A

How is Clark Geography ranked by the NRC?

The NRC Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs published recently includes a whole variety of ways to assess the programs, which includes peer-to-peer (S) assessment as well as objective categories.

Both peer-to-peer and objective rankings came with a range, from 5th to 95th percentiles. Among geography graduate programs nationwide, Clark scored:

  • 1st tied in R ranking (5th percentile)
  • 4th in R ranking (95th percentile)
  • 9th in S ranking (95th percentile)
  • 10th tied in S ranking (5th percentile)

Other objective categories:

Clark was ranked high for a number of objective categories.

  • 3rd in the percentage of students with external fellowships (2005)
  • 3rd in average number of Ph.D. graduated (2002-06)
  • 3rd in international students as percentage of total students (Fall 2005).
  • 3rd tied in diversity (dimensional ranking 5th percentile)
  • 5th on faculty performance
  • 5th in awards allocated per faculty member (2006)
  • 7th in research activity (dimensional ranking 5th percentile)
  • 8th in average citations per faculty publication

What do the R and S rankings refer to? (from A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs int he United States, NRC, 2010, page 2)

  • The R (or regression-based) rankings are based on an indirect way of determining, the importance faculty attach to various characteristics. First, groups of randomly selected faculty were asked to rate the quality of a sample of representative programs in their field. Based on the sample program ratings, weights were assigned to each of the 20 characteristics using statistical techniques; again, these weights varied by field. These weights were applied to data about each program, resulting in a second range of rankings.
  • The S (or survey-based) rankings are based on a survey that asked faculty to rate the importance of the 20 different program characteristics in determining the quality of a program. Based on their answers, each characteristic was assigned a weight; these weights varied by field. The weights were then applied to the data for each program in the field, resulting in a range of rankings for each program.

Why Clark Geography ranks so highly

A unique and long-standing tradition of excellence

As the oldest, sustained doctoral program in Geography in the country, Clark Geography has granted the largest number of doctoral degrees in the United States. Clark has consistently ranked among the top 10 programs and sustained its reputation over the course of its history (and U.S. Geography’s) in various polls and peer-review rankings. Clark Geography faculty and students pride themselves as global leaders in innovative theory-driven research across the breadth of the geography's subfields (human, environmental, physical, GIScience).

Clark graduates get prominent academic positions after graduation

In the past five years we have placed students at Berkeley, Syracuse, Texas, SUNY Buffalo, Miami, Temple, Florida State University and National University of Singapore among others. Check out the more complete list.

Many of our alumni hold senior non-academic but research positions (e.g., NASA), and many of our international alumni historically returned to hold important government positions in their home countries (e.g., European Commission) or important positions with non-profit organizations (e.g. the National Coffee Growers’ Federation in Colombia).

Clark supports teacher training of our graduate students

Our doctoral students can complete a Certificate in College Teaching made available from the Colleges of Worcester Consortium. While the program does not require all graduate students to complete this program, some who have done so benefitted considerably. We have provided financial support to cover the cost of the core course required for the Certificate.

Clark graduate students have universal access to health insurance

Since 2006, laws were enacted in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to require all residents to be covered by health insurance. Clark graduate students have access to health insurance for a university negotiated rate.