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Experience Clarkson University

Clarkson University Entrance. Image courtesy of <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clarkson_University_entrance.jpg" title="via Wikimedia Commons">Royalbroil</a> / <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0">CC BY-SA</a>
Clarkson University Entrance. Image courtesy of Royalbroil / CC BY-SA

Nestled in the Adirondacks foothills, Clarkson Universityis a small private college located in Potsdam, New York which is also home to SUNY Potsdam. Potsdam is a small college town located in upstate New York close to the US-Canada border, and can be reached via a short flight from New York City. By road, Potsdam is a 6 hour drive from New York City, a 2.5 hour drive from Syracuse and a 2 hour journey from Ottowa and Montreal in Canada. Potsdam’s location is ideal for those who love the outdoors and activities such as hiking or mountain biking.

Clarkson is a little different from many other small private universities with its sharp focus on engineering, business and healthcare majors. That focus is echoed in the career placements of its graduates.

Campus Life

Despite its size, Clarkson educates both undergraduates and graduate students with Ph.D. being the terminal degree. There are nearly 3,000 undergraduate and 1200 graduate students on campus. Almost all the students live on campus. Housing is a combination of residence halls and apartments. All students are also encouraged to house in the thematic living-learning communities, which for the first year students are around the Quad. The living learning communities often occupy a floor or a few floors of the residence halls and apartments. The these can vary between gaming, movie fans, FIRST robotics, men/women in science, food, honors program etc. Their FAQs have more information about the residence life.


Clarkson is academically strong and most students are happy with their education and their career placement. Clarkson offers many career forward majors, such as different types of engineering, digital arts and sciences data science, software engineering, global supply chain management, etc. They also have a few humanities, social science and science majors. Their crown jewel is the Wallace Coulter School of Engineering. Their most popular programs are mechanical engineering, civil engineering, engineering management etc. Clarkson prides itself on their students getting internship and co-op opportunities. The other undergraduate schools at Clarkson are the David D. Reh School of Business, the School of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Sustainable Environment.

Students are required to take 120 credits hours and are often encouraged to pursue a dual major or a minor to broaden their knowledge and experience. In addition to BA and BS degrees, Clarkson also offers a Bachelors in Professional Sciences (BSP) that is more flexible and interdisciplinary. Students are required to take a course in diversity and ethics: the FY100, the First Year Seminar course, communication: The UNIV 190 course also known as the Clarkson Seminar and two courses each in math and sciences. The teaching is performed by both full time and part time faculty. Clarkson has two and half times as many full time faculty as compared to part time faculty, so most classes will be taught by full time faculty. After the first year, students are required to pursue a co-op, internship, research or a community project in a field related to their major. Clarkson also offers a the Honors program where student are required to maintain a 3.25 GPA and continue to pursue the leadership and service requirements of the honors program.

Career Placement

According to Clarkson, 77% of their graduating students are find employment and 19% go onto graduate or professional studies. Some of the biggest employers for Clarkson graduates are IBM, Global Foundries, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, National Grid, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals etc. Clarkson is located close to Burlingame, Vermont, home to quite a few semiconductor manufacturing facilities, thus accounting for a strong showing for tech jobs. Also, Clarkson’s proximity Syracuse, Albany and New York City help its graduates find internships and jobs.

Extra-Curricular Activities

There are many things to do on campus beyond academics at Clarkson. The activities range from Model UN, Literary Magazines and Newspapers, Dance, Musical Theatre, Musical Ensemble, Orchestra, Jazz , Pep and Concert Band,Choral Groups, Film Society and Radio and Student Government. Students also take advantage of the beautiful outdoors and the location of the college by participating in a lot of outdoors activities. Party Scene: Students say that it is a campus with many things to do. Just like most college, there is a weekend party scene, however the general consensus is that it is not the biggest focus of the college experience at Clarkson.


Clarkson is a DIII school and the Golden Knights compete in the Liberty League with the except of ice hockey where it competes as a DI school as a member of ECAC hockey. Sports is a fairly large part of the campus experience a Clarkson.

Cost and Finances

Clarkson is on the expensive side of the cost spectrum for colleges. They offer reasonable amount of need-based aid and merit scholarships. Nearly all of their enrolled students were offered some form of financial and scholarships. 26% of the enrolled class were offered Pell grants. The reported average aid amount is $32,000. Clarkson has merit scholarships ranging from $2,000-$25,000.

75% of the enrolled students were also offered loans towards their net cost of attendance. The average debt is $10,300. Nearly 26% of the students also borrowed private education loans to the tune of an average debt load of $17, 900. That is a reasonably high amount of debt load, though hopefully I can somewhat be ameliorated by Clarkson’s focus on employable professions. According to Clarkson’s career center, their graduates can look forward to a starting salary of $62, 750. Given Clarkson’s focus on engineering, the starting salary is more inline with tech careers and can be different for students in non engineering majors.

In conclusion, most students have a positive view of the academics and the future employment opportunities after an education at Clarkson.