• Overview
  • Faculty
  • Requirements
  • Advising
  • 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.

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]


Requirements for a major in religion: REL 121, 122, 221, 442, one of the indicated philosophy courses at the 200-level or above (PHL 202, 241, 281, 320, 353) and the senior capstone seminar (550, or 551 and 552). Additional 8 credits may be constituted from any other religion or philosophy courses or from the following courses in other departments: ANT 314; CLA 110/310, 220/320; HIS 221, 334; SOC 303. 309; for a total of 32 credits.

Requirements for a minor in religion: REL 121 or 122, and 221, 442 and one philosophy course. The other 4 credits may be constituted from any other religion or philosophy courses or from the following courses in other departments: ANT 314; CLA 110/310, 220/320, HIS 221, 334; SOC 303, 309; 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

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.

Professor of Religion Brian Smith and three of his students delivered paper presentations at the annual meeting of the Midwest American Academy of Religion (MAAR) April 11 and 12, 2015 at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio. MAAR is the regional association of the national American Academy of Religion, the major professional association of scholars in religious studies in the country.

Alexander Baldschun ’15 of Green Bay, Wisconsin, presented his paper, “The New Orthodoxy: Constantine’s Christianity,” on the panel “History of Christianity I: The Development and Formation of Christianity in the Early Church.” Baldschun is a religion major with a self-designed major in classics and a minor in history and has been accepted at the University of Chicago Divinity School for fall 2015 to begin a Master's program in Religious Studies.

Courtney Bloomer ’16 of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, presented her essay, “Syncretism in China,” on the “Religions in Asia II” panel. She is a chemistry-biology major with a minor in religion.

Zachary Muench ’16 of Franklin, Wisconsin presented “Medical Ethics: The Integration of Theory and Practice in Contemporary Medical Education” on the panel “Ecology and Science in the Study of Religion II: Clearing the Air, Four Perspectives on the Science-Religion Interface.” He is majoring in religion and chemistry-biology.

Smith presented his paper “Storytelling in and Across Religions” on the panel “Literature and Sacred Texts in the Study of Religion II: Narrativity in the Study and Practice of Religion.”

Smith also is chair of the Undergraduate Section of MAAR and chaired two separate panels at the conference where undergraduates from various other Midwest colleges and universities made presentations: “Undergraduate Students I: Gender and Religion” and “Undergraduate Students II: Mysticism, Therapy and Individual Identity.”