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



Ripon College offers a major and minor in philosophy. They will encounter the best that has been thought and said about basic human concerns throughout civilization. The philosophy department at Ripon College is centrally concerned with the human activity of philosophical thinking. Philosophy can usefully be characterized as the attempt to make rational sense of things. Ultimately, then, it is the attempt to discover and articulate what is truly meaningful, including what it is, if anything, that makes life itself meaningful.

A course in philosophy is designed to enhance one’s grasp of fundamental issues and to enhance one’s skill in reasoning.

Hence, the emphasis in Ripon’s philosophy program is the development of both critical and creative reasoning skills, as displayed in both oral and written form.

The outcome of the activity of philosophizing is a philosophy. But while other “philosophies” of others, especially the great thinkers of world civilizations, can be explored for possibilities and insights, it is this activity of attempting to make rational sense by and for oneself that is the focus of the philosophy program at Ripon.

Program Spotlight


Brian Smith

Brian Smith

Professor of Religion, Charles and Joan Van Zoeren Chair in Religion, Ethics and Values, Chair of Religion Department

[email protected]
David Brusin

David Brusin, rabbi

Adjunct Professor of Religion

[email protected]
Paul Jeffries

Paul Jeffries

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of Philosophy Department, Coordinator of First-Year Studies Program

[email protected]


Requirements for a major in philosophy: PHL 320 and REL 442; PHL 591 and 592; one 300-level additional philosophy course; one religion course at the 200 level or above; and three other courses in philosophy for a total of 32 credits.

Requirements for a minor in philosophy: PHL 320; at least one additional course in philosophy at the 300 level; one religion course, and other philosophy courses for a total of 20 credits.


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.

Career Tracks

An undergraduate degree in philosophy can lead to a career in teaching, law, business, ethics, mediation, government, grant writing and many other fields.

Alumni of our program are enrolled in a variety of graduate-level programs at some of the nation’s most prestigious research universities, including: Texas A&M University, the University of Minnesota, Marquette University and the University of Oregon.

Job titles of recent graduates include lawyer, grant writer, financial adviser, teacher and professor.

Off-Campus Study

Summer Philosophy Programs

Over the last few years, our students were accepted to the University of Colorado’s Summer Seminar in Philosophy and the University of Minnesota’s Philosophy Camp.

Programs in the United States and Abroad

Ripon College, by virtue of its membership in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) and its affiliation to several other study-abroad programs, provides its students opportunities to study within and outside of their disciplines in programs and institutions around the world - like studying philosophy at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.