Ripon College’s chemistry program is approved by the American Chemical Society and is distinctive in that organic chemistry is the initial course. This unique approach provides an accessible introduction to chemistry through an emphasis on carbon chemistry, while also providing new experiences in chemical synthesis for students with advanced high school preparation. The curriculum is rich in laboratory experience, and state-of-the-art instrumentation can be used by students at all levels. Faculty work closely with students to deepen laboratory and theoretical skills as well as recommend career-enhancing experiences. Collaborative research with faculty is available through independent study and paid summer internships.

Chemistry graduates of Ripon College often enter chemistry-related Ph.D. programs with tuition fees waived and a substantial stipend provided. Others go directly into medical school and other health-related professional programs. Many graduates go directly into employment in positions ranging from bench chemists to pharmaceutical sales.  

Ripon also offers majors in chemistry-biology and physical science. These interdisciplinary tracts serve broader interests while still containing substantial chemistry course requirements. Students are prepared for several Ph.D. programs and also serve students interested in medical professions, advanced engineering programs and law school.

Latest News

Abbigail Grieger ’22, Sierra Thein ’22, Patrick Willoughby

Patrick Willoughby, two alumni contribute to published paper

Associate Professor of Chemistry Patrick Willoughby has a paper published by ACS Publications. Two of the student co-authors are Ripon College alumnae: Sierra Thein ’22 […]

Jordan Nutting '15

Thesis chapter by Jordan Nutting ’15 adapted into article for Journal of Organic Chemistry

A thesis chapter that Jordan Buhle Nutting ’15 wrote during her doctorate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was adapted into the Journal of Organic […]

Chemical reaction

Undergraduate research leads to new discoveries in chemistry for students, professors

Seventeen students collaborated with Professor of Chemistry Joe Scanlon and Associate Professor of Chemistry Patrick Willoughby on ground-breaking research that resulted in a published article […]


Colleen Byron

Byron, Colleen

Professor of Chemistry, L. Leone Oyster 1919 Chair in Chemistry

Bryan Nell

Nell, Bryan

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Patrick Willoughby

Willoughby, Patrick

Associate Professor of Chemistry


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. We also work collaboratively with Ripon College Career and Professional Development to help match your interests and skills to concrete goals and construct a plan for professional success offering personalized career counseling, off-campus learning opportunities and an online job board with potential to connect with local, national and international employers. Our collaboration with 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. Likewise, Mentors in the Franzen 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


Requirements for a major in chemistry: CHM 111, 112, 211, 214, 321, 333, 334, 342, three semesters of 501 and one semester of 502, two semesters of physics (171 and 172), plus two semesters of calculus (MTH 201 and 202) or a higher calculus course. CHM 111, 112, 211 and 214 constitute an introductory core and should be taken in sequence.Majors must complete a research project which culminates in a substantial written thesis. Except in unusual circumstances, an experimental project is required. This thesis project can be initiated after the student’s exposure to the introductory core, but must be essentially complete at the end of the fall semester of the senior year. A directed summer research project, either at Ripon, on another campus, or in an industrial laboratory, also could provide the basis for an acceptable thesis. It is expected that the project will be the equivalent of a minimum of four semester hours of credit.

The major described above, with the addition of CHM 422 and two of the following: 310, 413, 414, 415 or a 3-4 credit 500-level Departmental Studies course, satisfies the minimum standard for a professional degree in chemistry certified by the American Chemical Society. Students planning on obtaining an American Chemical Society degree need to register 400 laboratory hours in courses at the 200 level and higher. Thesis research can be included in this requirement. Students planning to pursue graduate work should select advanced courses and independent study based on their post-graduation interests and also should consider seriously the potential value of linear algebra, differential equations, and advanced calculus. Students should discuss the possibilities with members of the department before registration. Laboratory periods for CHM 100 are two hours per week. All other laboratories are three to four hours, unless otherwise noted.

Requirements for a minor in chemistry: CHM 111, 112, 211, 214 and one course from CHM 321, 333, 334, 414 or 422.

Requirements for a teaching major in chemistry: CHM 111, 112, 211, 214, 321, 333, 334, 342, 401, 501 (two credits); PHY 171 and 172; MTH 201 and 202; and ENV 120.

Requirements for a teaching minor in chemistry: CHM 111, 112, 211, 214, and 401; either CHM 321, 333, or 334; and MTH 201 and 202.

Career Tracks

Our graduates are enrolled in a variety of graduate programs and medical schools at some of the nation’s most prestigious research universities. Examples of positions occupied by our alumni include principal research investigator, wheat geneticist, physical chemistry professor, experience manager, pharmaceutical sales representative, environmental health specialist, radiation oncologist, project manager, senior scientist, vaccine researcher, chemical engineer, pharmacist, analytical chemist, clinical research specialist, pediatrician, patent litigation lawyer, and small business owner.

Unique Opportunities

  • Students develop sophisticated laboratory skills through individual attention, through assignments that help students to learn to work independently and in team environments; through using and understanding state-of-the-art instrumentation that is on-site and only for our undergraduates; and through rigorous requirements for communicating scientific concepts and results through both oral and written formats.
  • In the last three years, two recent chemistry graduates and two recent chemistry-biology graduates have been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
  • The Oak Ridge Science Semester enables students to join ongoing investigations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee in research areas as diverse as astrophysics, cell biology, DNA sequencing, genetic mutagenesis, parallel computing, robotics, toxicology and more.