Ralph Lerner is the Benjamin Franklin Professor in the College, and professor in the Committee on Social Thought, at the University of Chicago.
He attended public school in Chicago, received his degrees in political science at the University of Chicago, and had a year of post-graduate study of medieval Hebrew at the University of Cambridge. He has served in the U.S. Army. All of his teaching has been at the University of Chicago, apart from visiting appointments at Stanford, Cornell, and Harvard universities and a visiting lectureship at the Institut Raymond Aron. He has received fellowship awards from the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Humanities Center. He has received a Quantrell Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.