Graphic Design

Whether you aspire to work for a major advertising firm, create small business websites, or direct the visual voice of a magazine, St. Ambrose has a graphic design program that will exceed your needs.

Our graduates work at Jeff Koons Studio New York, Augustana College, Genesis Health, North Scott Community Schools, and many others.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Contemporary + Complete Art Experience
  • Learn From Professional Designers
  • Supportive Faculty, Inspired Growth

Student at Mac

Design Lab

Morrissey Gallery

SAU Art faculty encourage exploration and your growth as an artist. Whether you plan to pursue graduate studies or immediately join the workforce, you will have the skills and confidence to use your craft to comment and contribute to society.

Graphic Design, Painting, Book Arts, Art Education

Daniella Hawkes '18

Daniella Hawkes chose our graphic design program because she wanted to have fun and gain skills to support herself and her two children. She quickly realized her time at SAU was meant for more than just her studies, it was a journey of self-discovery. She graduated with self-confidence and a voice.

More Information on the Graphic Design Program

What will I learn?

You will learn about letter form and color choices; historical influences in the creation of original design products; and how to analyze the needs of clients and respond. Courses are taught by professional designers and include typography, digital illustration, web design, and branding.

You also will gain a broad foundation in art that focuses on and informs your design practice. Core courses for all Art majors include drawing, design, visual narratives, and art history.

What are some possible careers?

You will graduate with the skills to communicate and captivate consumers. You could work as a graphic or web designer, art director, visual communications specialist, production artist, illustrator, or media designer. Career paths also include publishing, advertising, and public relations.

Many professional graphic designers choose to be their own boss. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016) about 1 in 5 graphic designers were self-employed. The median annual wage for graphic designers was $47,640 in 2016.

Art directors have even higher earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, art directors are responsible for setting the visual style for magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and even movie and television productions. In 2016, the median annual wage for art directors was $89,820.

Where will I learn?

The Art Department and student art facilities are housed in the Galvin Fine Arts Center. Our main drawing and painting studio is 1,600 square-feet of beautifully-lit open space. Graphic design classes are held in Mac computer labs and our book arts/printmaking/papermaking studio is not only unique, it is fully equipped.

Galvin features two public galleries – the Morrissey and Catich – for students to exhibit their work.

Some foundation and advanced courses are held in studios at the Figge Museum, and our students can visit the museum's collection, attend lectures, and participate in workshops for free.

What have alums from the program done?
  • Munir Sayegh '11, a double major in graphic design and marketing, was awarded a post-graduate Fulbright Scholarship to study Arabic calligraphy and typography in Egypt.
  • Heather (Behrens) White '10, a triple major in graphic design, book arts, and marketing, is the Creative Design and Marketing Coordinator for Genesis Health System and has a successful freelance design business, Heather White Design.
  • Kara (Hennessy) Neubauer '14 was a fine arts major with a concentration in Graphic Design and a minor in marketing. She is a Graphic Designer at Excel Signs and Design in St. Louis, Mo.
What about Scholarships and Grants?

Scholarships are available for students who show exemplary talent in their artwork. If you have that type of creative passion, we want to talk to you about how studies at St. Ambrose can enrich your talent and help lead to several fulfilling career paths.

An art scholarship recognizes and rewards your special gifts and can provide important financial help for your studies. Learn more about the Art Scholarship

Also take a look at our institutional scholarships and learn about outside grants.

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design (27 credits)

Majors also must satisfy general art requirements. (24 credits)

DSGN 220 Typography
DSGN 230 Digital Illustration
DSGN 420 Web Design
ART 410 Professional Practices

Plus nine credits from the following:
+DSGN 240 Designing Data
DSGN 300 Advanced Special Topics
DSGN 310 Publication Design
DSGN 320 Experimental Typography
DSGN 330 Branding and Identity Systems
DSGN 410 Design Studio
DSGN 430 Interaction Design
DSGN 499 Internship in Design

Three credits of 300 level art history

Three additional credits of art (ART 220, ART 240, ART 290, and ART 360 are highly recommended)

DSGN 400 Senior Honors: Graphic Design

Plan to Graduate

This is the suggested plan of study to graduate in four years with a degree in Graphic Design.

NOTE: This plan assumes the student has not taken three years of high school foreign language.

Year One

ENGL 101 English comp. 3 IL 101 Information Lit. 1
NSS 101 New Student Seminar 1 COMM 129, 132, 203, 228, or 329 3
+ART 100 Drawing 3 ART 203 2D Design 3
KIN 149 Wellness Concepts 1 PHIL/THEO 100-200 LEVEL 3
PHIL/THEO 100-200 level 3 MATH 131 OR CSCI 140 3
Total Credits 14 Total Credits 16

Year Two

CSCI 330 Web Programming (elective) 3 ART 311 Foundations of Typography 3
ART 205 Computers in Art 3 Natural Science 3
AH 250 Art through the Ages 3 KIN Fitness 1
Social Sci 3 AH 251 Art through the Ages II 3
+ART 231 Digital Photography 3 ART 210 Graphic Design I 3
ART 210
SF Drawing
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 16

Year Three

ART 411 Web Design (elective) 3 ART 330 ART 410 Graphic Design III 3 ART 331
ART 303 Figure Composition 3 ART 303 PHIL/THEO 300-level 3
ART 310 Graphic Design II 3 ART 210 WI ELECTIVE 3
PHIL/THEO Elective 3 ART 208 SF 3D Design 3
AH 300 Elective 3 ART 251 Writing Intensive ELECTIVE 3
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

Year Four

ART 335 Design Studio (elective)* 3 HONORS (ELECTIVE) 1
PHIL/THEO ELECTIVE 3 ART 403 Professional Practices 3
Elective 3 ELECTIVES 9
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 14

*Needs prerequisite. Check Course Catalog

Art Minors

Graphic Design (18 credits)

+ART 100 Drawing
+ART 200 2D Design
DSGN 210 Computers in Art
DSGN 220 Typography

Plus 6 credits from the following:
+ART 240 Digital Photography
+ART 290 Screen Printing
+ART 390 Letterpress
ART 410 Professional Practices
DSGN 230 Digital Illustration
DSGN 300 Special Topics
DSGN 310 Publication Design
DSGN 330 Branding & Identity Systems
DSGN 420 Web Design
DSGN 430 Interaction Design
DSGN 499 Internship in Graphic Design

Design & Interactive Media (18 credits)

This compelling minor teaches students about the basic principles of graphic design while also providing a working knowledge of computer science. With this minor, you will gain the skills to develop integrative approaches to solving interactive media challenges using design and code.

DSGN 210 Computers in Art
+CSCI 140 Fundamentals of Computer Science
CSCI 330 Web Programming
DSGN 420 Web Design

Choose 6 credits:
+DSGN 240 Designing Data
+DSGN 300 Special Topics
DSGN 430 Interaction Design
CSCI 360 Database Management Systems

+ = satisfies General Education requirement

Art Therapy Minor (18 credits)

The minor in art therapy is structured for Art or Psychology majors who are interested in how creative expression can improve individuals' well-being.

Both Art and Psychology majors must take ART 100, ART 215, PSYC 105, and PSYC 215.

Required for Art majors

PSYC 212 Life-span Development
PSYC 324 Abnormal Psychology
PSYC 342 Theories of Counseling

Choose one:
PSYC 327 Psychology & Treatment of the Juvenile Offender
PSYC 384 Child & Adolescent Psychology

Required for Psychology majors

ART 210 3D Design
ART 220 Printmaking
ART 240 Digital Photography

Choose one:
ART 250 Papermaking
ART 260 Bookbinding
ART 230 Intermediate Topics - Experimental Drawing
ART 340 Painting

Meet one of our alums

As a Fine Arts student at St. Ambrose University, you will explore the heights and depths of your talent. Take a look at some of our alums who have been in your shoes and are now creating and sharing their art with the world:

Apply Visit Info


Joseph Lappie, MFA, Department Chair

Galvin Fine Arts Center 7
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, Iowa 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 60 programs and 27 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!