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



Ripon College offers a major and minor in religion. Students engage some of the major religious and moral traditions of the world so they understand the origins and development of human spiritual heritages, and better relate to the multi-religious dimensions of the contemporary world. The religion program at Ripon examines the experience and the beliefs about God in major world faiths, past and present. Special emphasis is given to the Jewish and Christian traditions because of their great importance for Western culture.

Introductory courses are geared toward providing an understanding of how the founders and first followers of major religions experienced God and how to interpret the faith expressions in their scriptures – e.g. the Torah and the New Testament.

Intermediate courses focus on the evolution of theological and ethical concepts and practices of the Judeo-Christian tradition over time and how they shaped and were shaped by cultural values and structures with which they interacted.

Advanced courses provide an analysis of how religion and ethics affect contemporary society – both individuals seeking a meaningful moral framework for their personal lives, and wider political and economic forces shaping national and international society.


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.


Brian Smith

Brian Smith

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

David Brusin

David Brusin, rabbi

Adjunct Professor of Religion

David William Scott

David William Scott

Pieper Chair in Servant Leadership, Assistant Professor of Religion


Career Tracks

What can I do with a religion major?

Religion, as part of a liberal arts and sciences program, is a degree that can lead to careers in any field.

The department provides excellent preparation for students interested in pursuing graduate school in many disciplines including religion, theology, ministry, philosophy, psychology, education and law. among others. Recent alumni are enrolled in graduate-level programs at Marquette University, Texas A&M University, Northwestern University and Bowling Green State University.

Recent graduates of our program work for:

  • Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Eli Lilly & Company
  • First Congregational Church
  • First United Methodist Church
  • Immanuel Lutheran School
  • Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation
  • Target Corporation
  • US Bank

Job titles of recent graduates include:

  • Therapist/case manager
  • Pharmacy technician
  • Tennis professional
  • French legal translator & interpreter
  • Associate minister
  • Director of youth & young adult ministries
  • Mental health case manager
  • Teacher
  • Attorney
  • Director of congregational learning

Off-Campus Study


Students wishing a first-hand experience in religion or in ethics can take a supervised field work course. This could involve either part-time employment or participant observation in local church services or organizations (for those interested in some form of religious ministry as a career), or in local professional organizations and meetings, e.g., law, business, medicine, journalism, politics or government (for those interested in contemporary ethical challenges in these professions).

International study

Religion majors may take advantage of the many off-campus programs available at Ripon College. Students have studied in Europe, Costa Rica and China.

Students have the opportunity to take part in the cultural experience available in major U.S. cities such as Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

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.

Unique Opportunities

Double majors and minors

Because religion is closely related to other courses in the humanities and the social sciences, students often combine religion with another academic discipline to form a double major or double minor. These other areas have included philosophy, English, anthropology, politics and government, psychology, music and chemistry.


Students of religion at Ripon College have the opportunity to travel and present at academic conferences. For instance, in 2014 Professor of Religion Brian Smith traveled with three Ripon College seniors to the American Academy of Religion’s Midwest Regional Conference at Ohio Northern University where the three students presented papers:

LaTia Rodgers ‘14, a religion and English major, presented “Buddhism and the Environment,” a senior seminar project examining the resources Buddhism offers for greater environmental awareness.

Elizabeth Blum ’14, a global studies and politics and government major, contributed “Social Justice in the Pulpit: A Small Town Study.” During her research, Blum did interviews with all active clergy in the city of Ripon, asking if and how they preach about issues of social justice. Her work was supported by a summer 2012 grant from the Ethical Leadership Program.

Amanda Gesiorski ’14, a history and anthropology major, presented “Women with Habits: Two Life Histories of Catholic Sisters.” Gesiorski gathered in-depth interviews with retired Catholic nuns in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, reflecting on their lives. The work was based on a paper she wrote in an independent study class in anthropology.

Attendees at the panels in which the three students papers were presented engaged them in stimulating conversations and praised the students for their solid academic work.