• Overview
  • Faculty
  • Career Tracks
  • Off-Campus Study



Ripon College offers a major and a minor in history. Ripon history students move beyond the “timeline” approach to the past. They don’t just learn what happened — they analyze why events occurred, arrive at their own view of events, and discover the implications historical events have for understanding enduring human issues. They learn to communicate complex ideas both orally and in written form and to understand cultures and societies other than their own. History majors may go on to graduate school, law school or business school. Some may go into the work force, finding jobs with multinational corporations, governmental agencies or small businesses

The Ripon faculty offers a remarkable variety of courses, examining the complete scope of history and delving into every time frame and every era. History students take full advantage of study-abroad programs, as well as Liberal Arts In Focus study and travel (including, in the spring of 2012, a scholarly excursion to study the 13th-century Albigensian Crusade in the south of France).


Ripon College faculty and professional staff are dedicated to helping you reach your goals, whatever they may be and however often they may change along the way. It’s part of our value statement to you.

As a student at Ripon, you will be assigned a faculty adviser based on your area(s) of interest. You will meet with your faculty adviser throughout your time as a student to discuss your current aspirations, plan your course schedule and plot a future trajectory. Staff in the Office of Constituent Engagement and Career Services help to match your interests to concrete goals and construct a plan for success, offering support through three stages of career development – planning, exploration and search. Student Support Services provides tutoring and additional academic and skill development, as well as tools to help with note-taking, exam preparation, goal-setting and time management. Mentors in the Collaborative Learning Center provide in-depth, one-on-one or group mentoring for students about class projects and college-level writing, and can share problem-solving strategies to overcome academic obstacles.

Advising at Ripon.


Barbara McGowan

Barbara McGowan

Professor of History, Delmar D. Wensink Professor of Political Economy

[email protected]
Brian Bockelman

Brian Bockelman

Associate Professor of History, Chair of History Department

[email protected]

Diane Mockridge

Professor of History

[email protected]
Rebecca Matzke
Sarah Frohardt-Lane

Sarah Frohardt-Lane

Assistant Professor of History

[email protected]

Career Tracks

What Can I Do with a history major?

Some Ripon history graduates choose careers in academia: they have entered Ph.D. programs at such universities as Princeton, Wake Forest and Penn State. Others go into archival work: a recent graduate now works for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. Many Ripon history majors share their love of history as high school teachers. Others have taken positions with insurance companies, as lawyers and as bank branch managers.

As part of her Ripon Local History class, Kathryn Stepanek ’13 practiced archival research and oral history to help preserve the past. She researched the Ripon College archives from the late 1950s and early ’60s. Then she interviewed an alumna from the class of 1962. Based on her research and interview, Kathryn wrote an analytical paper about academics and student life at Ripon in the early 1960s that will contribute to a larger project on the history of the College.

Recent graduates of our program work for:

  • American Players Theatre
  • Citicorp Investments
  • City of Chicago
  • City of Philadelphia
  • Clear Channel Radio
  • Epic Software
  • Georgia Pacific
  • Heartland Communications Group Inc.
  • Indiana State Library
  • Michael Fitzpatrick Law Office
  • National Forensic League
  • Peace Corps
  • The Rochelle Lee Fund
  • The Museum of the Red River
  • USDA Forest Service
  • University of Wisconsin
  • West Allis Memorial Hospital
  • Wisconsin Historical Society

Job titles of recent graduates include:

  • Costume technician
  • Teacher
  • Substance abuse counselor
  • Attorney and legislative assistant
  • Life skills educational assistant
  • Writer
  • Programmer
  • Photographer
  • Assistant principal
  • Admissions director
  • Director of information technology
  • Attorney
  • Assistant professor of sociology
  • Assistant superintendent
  • Director of youth ministry
  • Securities operations specialist
  • Television producer
  • Archaeologist

Off-Campus Study

Ripon students study history in overseas programs in Spain, France, Germany, Costa Rica, China, the Czech Republic, and many other destinations around the world. The London-Florence program is particularly exciting for Ripon history students.

Those interested in advanced historical research pursue their interests at the Army War College or at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Ripon faculty members regularly lead Liberal Arts In Focus travel experiences. One of many is a trip to southern France, led by history professor Diane Mockridge and Spanish professor Michelle Fuerch, to study the history of the Albigensians, a heretical sect against whom the king of France led a crusade in the 13th century.

Whether you choose a program that is international or domestic, it is an experience bound to change your view of the world. Click to learn more about Off- Campus Study and Liberal Arts In Focus at Ripon College.