Psychology Department at Ripon College

Academics | Psychology


At Ripon, we approach psychology as both a science and a profession. Our goal is to provide our psychology majors with the background they need for admission into graduate programs—master of social work programs, Ph.D. programs in psychology, and study in many others areas—or for successful entry into various careers.

Our students conduct observational studies and research projects beginning with the first course in the department. Throughout their study in psychology, students engage in field studies and independent research. In addition, all senior majors conduct original research projects on topics of their own choice, write a thesis to describe them, and report them at our annual on-campus psychology symposium.



Craig Bowden

Joe Hatcher Jr.

Kristine Kovack-Lesh

Robert Otis

J. Timothy Petersik

Karin Suesser


Courses & Requirements

As a discipline, psychology seeks to understand the conditions that influence human and animal behavior and strives to promote human cooperation and survival. Because psychology is such a wide-ranging discipline, courses at Ripon cover a diverse range of topics designed to assist the development of a student’s theoretical, practical, and methodological sophistication. Among these courses are ethology (studying orcas in Washington state’s Puget Sound), organizational psychology, social psychology (including counseling), developmental psychology, and cognitive neuroscience.

Course Guide: Psychology



Ripon College encourages all students to embrace a Four-Year Career Development Plan. This plan is based on the premise that career planning is a development process that involves learning and decision-making over an extended period of time.

First Year

  • Incoming students are assigned a Faculty Mentor based on their interest area(s). Please see the FACULTY tab under your major area;
  • All Freshman are required to enroll in a First-Year Seminar, which is designed as a transition from high school to college learning, providing an interdisciplinary introduction to the liberal arts and the pursuit of in-depth study;
  • Freshman are encouraged to meet the career development staff early on and complete interest and skills inventories, and self-assessment tools; and,
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks.

Third Year

  • Assume leadership positions in on-campus clubs and organizations;
  • Participate in mock interviews with the Career Development Office;
  • Attend the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges Job Fair in February and other relevant career fairs;
  • If relevant, begin to research potential graduate school programs and take the appropriate entrance exam(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Continue to build a solid network and a list of work references, and build your resume;
  • Consider off-campus study: Semester and/or alternative Spring Breaks;
  • Continue to job shadow; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Second Year

  • Get involved with on-campus clubs and organizations, athletic teams and/or intramural sports;
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks;
  • Declare a major;
  • Meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor or match your interests with a faculty member in your major department. Determine which professors have areas of expertise most similar to your interests. Talk to people in the academic department to find out about faculty research, scholarly, and creative interests;
  • Attend on-campus career workshops;
  • Work with the Career Development Office to create an approved resume;
  • Job shadow people involved in various careers and professions of interest; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Fourth Year

  • Complete a Senior Capstone/Thesis in your major area(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Perfect your interviewing skills;
  • Expand your existing network of contacts;
  • Finalize your resume and prepare cover letter;
  • Build a credential file in the Career Development Office;
  • Interview with on-campus recruiters;
  • Set-up informational interviews with target companies;
  • If relevant, apply to graduate school programs, and if necessary, re-take entrance exams; and,
  • Practice career goal-setting.


What can I do with a Psychology major?

Psychology can lead to careers in a wide variety of fields, everything from counseling and therapy to marketing and law. Our graduates have found the skills and background they acquire at Ripon useful in ways both expected and unexpected.

Recent graduates have taken many paths, including graduate school programs in Counseling Psychology, Business, Industrial Organization Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Work, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Others have launched careers as psychologists, teachers, therapists, research analysts, and mental health practitioners.

Recent graduates of our program work for…

  • Alverno College
  • American Marketing and Publishing
  • Capitoland Children’s Center
  • Community Support Network
  • Dept. of Health & Human Services of Nebraska
  • Friends of Abused Families, Inc.
  • Galena Interior Learning Academy
  • Jewish Home and Care Center
  • Kenosha Human Juvenile Crisis
  • Massacusetts Executive Office of Public Safety
  • Peace Corps
  • The Black Stone Group
  • Washington County Mental Health Center
  • Wisconsin Early Autism Project

Job titles of recent graduates include…

  • Teacher
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Therapist/Case Manager
  • Human Service Treatment Specialist
  • Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries
  • Senior Therapist
  • Crisis Intervention Counselor
  • Intervention Specialist/School Psychologist
  • Director of Marketing
  • Grant Manager
  • Hedge Fund Administrator
  • Executive Director of Marketing & Communications
  • Dean of Admission
  • Attorney/Prosecutor
  • Psychotherapist
  • School Psychologist for Middle & High School
  • Human Resources Coordinator
  • Psychotherapist
  • Alderman
  • Line Therapist


Unique Opportunities

Experimental Research The Psychology Department features laboratories and equipment for the use of students to conduct independent research projects. Among the laboratories are a computerized psychology lab, a social psychology lab, three perception labs, and a learning and physiological lab.

Internships Many of our students participate in local and regional internship experiences. Coordinated by the psychology faculty, past internships have included volunteer work at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute, supervised assistance to school psychologists, assistance in drug rehabilitation counseling, research conducted on killer whales on San Juan Island, Washington, and work with autistic children.

Conferences At the department’s annual Senior Psychology Symposium, psychology majors report the results of their senior research projects. Students are also encouraged to attend various undergraduate research conferences in the Midwest, including the Psi Chi research symposium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the undergraduate research program held at the Midwestern Psychological Association convention.