Stained glass from the Geography building at Clark

Doctoral Program in Geography

Clark Graduate School of Geography brochure thumbnailThe Clark Advantage

Established in 1921, the Graduate School of Geography at Clark is internationally renowned for innovative scholarship and is an acknowledged leader in the field. Consistently ranked as one of the top-ten graduate programs by the National Research Council, Clark Geography enables graduate students to train with top professionals and participate in a world-class research community. Students are guaranteed tuition remission and Graduate Assistantships for a minimum of the first three years, fostering a tight-knit, supportive intellectual community. Having awarded more Ph.D.s than any other geography program in the U.S., Clark Geography has a reputation for training future leaders in the field. Read more about Clark's tradition of pioneering geographic scholarship.

Our Close-Knit Community

The Graduate School seeks talented students with diverse backgrounds who can contribute to the atmosphere of innovation and collaboration that defines Clark Geography. The intimate atmosphere of a small urban university fosters close faculty-student relationships that are a key component of graduate study at Clark. The program offers a strong emphasis in both qualitative and quantitative analysis and the option to combine both in a research project.

Areas of Study

Our objective is to produce scholars and other professionals whose research and pedagogy are path-breaking. We intend our students to contribute significantly to research and application in one of four main geography foci:

Human-Environment/Nature-Society · Urban-Economic · Geographic Information Science · Earth System Science

Within these foci we encourage an education of excellence and innovation across a number of areas of specialization:

  • Climate change
  • Cryosphere
  • Economy and culture of cities
  • Ecosystem ecology
  • Environment and development
  • Feminist geography
  • Forest ecology
  • Geographies of energy and extractive industries
  • Geographies of social movements
  • GIS and spatial analysis
  • Global economic change
  • Land change and sustainability science
  • Land surface hydrology
  • Political/cultural ecology
  • Political Economy
  • Resource geography
  • Social and spatial theory
  • Urban geography
  • Urban Political
  • Urban Development

Tuition Remission for All Doctoral Students

All incoming graduate students are guaranteed the same tuition remission and a minimum of four years of initial assistantship funding, as long as progress to degree is satisfactory. This arrangement lends itself to a supportive graduate student body and fosters an exceptional level of extramural grants and fellowships among that body. Our graduate students have received grants and fellowships from a wide variety of institutions including the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Social Sciences Research Council and the Fulbright Foundation. Learn more about graduate fellowships and grants.


The Ph.D. Program does not require applicants to earn an M.A. en route, nor do we accept students for the Master's degree alone. Incoming students range from those holding Master's degree in geography to those having little or no past experience in the field. The former might expect to complete the program in three or four years, whereas the latter should expect to take five years. Accepted students are expected to make up any deficiencies in their previous training. We accept students for fall admission only.

Requirements include 8 semesters of courses (including directed readings, research and thesis/dissertation work); satisfactory completion of doctoral evaluations; fulfillment of a skills requirement; 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 and must be maintained to retain residence status and tuition stipend. The usual sequence students follow is: coursework, doctoral exam, research proposal, and dissertation research, write up, and defense.

In the first year, students normally complete the three required courses, Geography 318: Explanation in Geography and Geography 368: The Development of Western Geographic Thought, Geography 338: Current Research in Geography and take additional PDW (Professional Development Workshops) and courses to help refine their interests.

Learn more about the program timeline and the first, second and third years of the program and the dissertation.

Email Rachel Levitt (Program Administrator) at or Graduate Admissions at with any questions.