Scholars bring expertise in the sciences, humanities, education, and arts
Major in Geography
Without geography, you’re nowhere.
Why are things located where they are? What makes societies and biophysical environments different from place to place? How does distance affect access to the things all species need to survive and flourish?
As a geography major, you will use the concepts of place and space to better understand the physical and social processes that shape our planet and to address societal and environmental challenges. You will explore why places are different; the economic, political, and cultural systems that connect us locally, regionally, and globally; and how we shape — and in turn are shaped by — our environment.
Why Study Geography at Clark?
- Clark is an internationally recognized leader in geography. Over the years our professors have included Fellows from the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
- For more than 90 years, our faculty and alumni have pioneered, and continue to advance, the diverse fields of human-environment geography, risk-hazards, critical geography, animal geographies, and feminist geography. Our program is the only one to have developed its own geographic information science (GIS) software, IDRISI-TerrSet, which is now used worldwide.
- Learn from scholar-teachers whose research informs international debates on topics such as socio-economic development, landscape transformation, climate change, and urbanization. Our faculty partner with organizations including NASA, the National Science Foundation, Oxfam America, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
- Qualifying students can join our accelerated B.A./M.S. program in GIScience — with the fifth year tuition-free.
- Our majors move on to top-ranked graduate programs and meaningful careers.
Authors warn projects threaten tropical forests and rural people’s rights
HERO fellows examine temperature data in Holyoke, Fall River, and Chelsea
Your Will. Your Way.
The Major Path
As a geography major, you will take one course in each of four concentrations: earth system science; human-environment/nature-society; globalization, cities, and development; and geographic information science. You also will take a course in both research methods and skills, as well as four courses in an area you want to explore in depth, and a capstone experience. Additional information about the geography major and minor is available in the Program Guide for Undergraduate Geography Students (PDF).
If you qualify, you can apply to join Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geography honor society. Each year, the Graduate School of Geography recognizes three seniors and one junior with paid awards: the Ellen Churchill Semple Award, the IDRISI GIS Excellence Award, the NCGE Excellence in Scholarship Award, and the Strabo Award.
Skills you will learn include:
- Knowledge of how the natural world and human society are connected
- Theoretical and practical skills to understand the processes of physical and social change
- The ability to apply classroom learning to solve real-world problems
Ellen Churchill Semple Award
The Ellen Churchill Semple Award is given to an outstanding graduating senior geography major. The award is based primarily on a student’s academic achievements, although consideration is also given to professional and community achievements, independent research activities, publications and consulting.
Clark Labs GIS Excellence Award
This award is given to a senior that has excelled in the field of GIS.
NCGE (National Council for Geographic Education) Excellence in Scholarship Award
The NCGE Excellence of Scholarship Award is given in recognition of outstanding scholastic performance in the field of geography. The National Council presents this award for Geographic Education and the Association of Geographers.
The Strabo Award is given in recognition of intellectual leadership, exploration, and creativity. It is named for the Greek geographer Strabo, whose masterful work, Geography, charted the known world of his time.
The Marcia V. Szugda-Emani Memorial Environmental Scholarship Award
The Marcia V. Szugda-Emani Memorial Environmental Scholarship Award is given to a graduating senior with a record of high academic achievement. The award is designated for advanced research projects related to geography and the environment with a focus on the environment and its relevance to human well-being.
Special facilities available to you include the Jeanne X. Kasperson Research Library at the George Perkins Marsh Institute, the Guy H. Burnham Map and Aerial Photograph Library, Clark Labs for Cartographic Technologies and Geographic Analysis, and earth system science teaching and research laboratories in polar science, forest ecology, and terrestrial ecosystem physiology. Learn more.
During your junior year, you might be accepted into the geography honors program. Joining the program means you’ll work closely with a professor to create a thesis on a topic of your choice. Examples of recent honors thesis topics are:
- The Detection of Change Points in Arctic Sea Ice Cover across Different Spatial Scales, Locations, and Seasons
- Creating Social and Environmental Uplift: Examining the Feasibility and Effects of Rooftop Solar Panels for Environmental Justice Communities in Worcester, MA
- Media Underreporting and Disasters: A GIS Analysis of Traditional and Social Media Response to the 2016 Louisiana Flooding Disaster
- Characterizing the Spatial Expansion of the San Andres Mine between 1991 and 2016 in Copan, Honduras
- From Green Revolution to Organic Revolution: The Development of Inequality in Thailand and Resistance in Surin Province
- Honors Program Guide
Building your foundation
The Clark Experience
We structure our curriculum around Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP), which connects classroom learning with action through world and workplace experiences.
We’ve Got It Covered
Miracles of Asia: Economic Growth in Global Contexts
Why are many Asian countries (think China, India, and Japan) major players in global affairs? Through readings and class discussions, you’ll explore the reasons behind their rapid economic rise and sudden crises.
The Arctic in the Anthropocene
The Arctic’s rapid warming has far-reaching implications for our planet’s climate. Discover the Arctic during an age of intense human activity, and the interactions between land, atmosphere, ocean, ice, and people.
Water and the City: a Socio-Hydrology of Worcester and Its Environments
Water is an emotionally and politically charged resource. Explore our city’s water system via field trips and readings, and grapple with current issues in water and wastewater management, conservation, and planning.
Psychogeography and Cultural Spaces
Use the lens of psychogeography to investigate how human-modified landscapes affect our emotions and behaviors. Explore how those landscapes are shaped, and how they can be modified to bring about social change.
Explore what this department has to offer