Public Relations and Strategic Communication


If you're cool under pressure, a team player, possess strong communication skills and enjoy writing, St. Ambrose can prepare you for a successful future in advertising and public relations.

Our graduates work at Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, YASH Technologies, Community Health Care, Family Rescue, Inc., and many others.


Ambrose Advantages

  • Classes Pair Theory and Hands-On Learning
  • Internships Encouraged With a Variety of Area Organizations
  • Experienced Communication Faculty

students in front of class

Professor and Student with paper

Professor sitting down and talking to students

Our professors give you the breadth of perspective, experience, and expertise needed to help organizations manage their image in the community and through multiple media channels. When you've completed your degree, you'll be fully prepared to jump into your career or pursue graduate studies.

See Our Strategic Communication Major Fact Sheet (pdf)


More Information on Public Relations and Strategic Communication

What will I learn?

You will develop skills in advertising and public relations techniques and strategies. Examples of courses include Principles of Public Relations, Media Writing, Public Relations Techniques, Media Theory and Ethics, Advertising Copywriting, Business and Professional Speaking.

Then, put it all to work. When you take the capstone class your senior year, you become an associate of the Ambrose Public Relations Agency (APRA). You will work with classmates to develop a communication campaign for a local organization. Through APRA, our students have worked with and contributed to more than 25 organizations including River Music Experience, Figge Art Museum, and the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center.

How can I supplement my classroom learning?

We don't want our students to sit still. Instead, we want them to learn by doing. Here are some things you can do at SAU to enhance your writing skills and understanding of media:

  • Get involved with The Buzz, SAU's student-run newspaper. When you join the staff, you can help choose content, report and edit stories, handle design and layout pages, be a photographer, and sell and design advertising.
  • SAUtv is a 24/7 TV station that offers programming on education and technology. Our students produce a weekly newscast, operate cameras, edit video on state-of-the-art equipment, broadcast live sporting events, and work as on-air talent. Check out the SAUtv YouTube Channel.
  • KALA-FM Radio broadcasts 24/7 on 88.5 and 106.1 FM, featuring everything from blues to gospel to urban to rock. We also have The Stinger, an online radio station featuring the latest hits. Best of all, our students choose the shows, program music, edit news specials, volunteer at community events, and broadcast live sporting events under the direction of a staff advisor.
  • Our faculty encourage creativity and professionalism, and our students soar. Check out the awards KALA and SAUtv students earned from the Iowa Broadcast News Association on the TV/Radio page.
  • Intern! You will get marketable experience, learn from professionals, and network with your future colleagues while still in college. Our Communication Department faculty have deep connections in the media world, and working with the SAU Career Center you have plenty of opportunities to learn in the field. For instance:
    • Public Relations and Strategic Communication majors have interned with Quad City Mallards, Genesis Medical Center, The District of Rock Island, Quad City River Bandits, and several advertising and public relations agencies.
    • Journalism students have interned with local NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX affiliates, and newspapers including the Quad-City Times and The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus.
    • Radio and Television majors have interned with local NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX affiliates, and with many area radio stations.
What are some potential career outcomes?

Strategic communication professionals work in virtually every industry: business, entertainment, government, tourism, education, and healthcare.

Our graduates find positions in public relations and advertising agencies, as social media directors, in public affairs positions, nonprofit fundraising, promotions, and in broadcast and print news departments.

Faculty and Staff

Jim Baumann, PhD, Professor and Chair

Brett Billman, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Marianne Fenn, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Ann Preston, PhD, Professor
Alan Sivell, MA, Asst. Professor

Communication Center/SAUtv and KALA Radio Staff and Instructors
Jon Anderson, Chief Engineer
Dave Baker, KALA Operations Manager
Ken Colwell, PhD, Professor and Director
Duke Schneider, SAUtv Operations Manager
Shelby Shepherd, Production Specialist

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Strategic Communication (46 credits)

Requirements:
+ENGL 101 English Composition
COMM 224 Digital Media Production (4 credits)
COMM 225 Introduction to Visual Communication OR +DSGN 240 Designing Data
COMM 230 Media Writing
+COMM 232 Media & Society
COMM 240 Principles of Public Relations
COMM 251 Public Relations Techniques
COMM 305 Media Theory & Ethics
COMM 326 Communication & Technology
COMM 331 Advanced Media Writing OR COMM 323 Advertising Copy Writing
COMM 340 Global Communication
COMM 353 Cases & Research in Strategic Communication
COMM 405 Strategic Communication Campaigns
COMM 432 Media Law

Take one (Only offered once per academic year:
COMM 327 Organizational Communication
COMM 329 Business and Professional Speaking
COMM 361 Topics in Strategic Communication

+satisfies general education requirement

C+ Average required throughout the major.

Communication Studies Minor (15 credits)

Required:
COMM 203 Interpersonal Communication
COMM 232 Media and Society
COMM 326 Communication and Technology
COMM 340 Global Communication
COMM 327 Organizational Communication OR COMM 361 Topics in Strategic Communication

Public Relations Minor (21 credits)

ENGL 101 English Composition
COMM 230 Media Writing
COMM 232 Media and Society
COMM 240 Principles of Public Relations
COMM 251 Public Relations Techniques
COMM 353 Cases and Research in Strategic Communication
COMM 432 Media Law

Plan to Graduate

This is the suggested plan of study to graduate in four years with a degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communication.

This plan assumes the student has not taken three years of foreign language in high school. Current students should use MySAU Portal Student Planning and consult with an advisor to determine graduation requirements.

Read course descriptions in the Course Catalog

Year One

FallCreditSpringCredit
COMM 240 Principles of Public Relations 3 COMM 230 Media Writing 3
ENGL 101 Composition 3 COMM 232 Media and Society 3
Humanities 3 Info Lit 1
Foreign Language 101 3 Social Science 3
NSS 101 New Student Seminar 1 Foreign Language 102 3
THEO/PHIL 3 Oral Communication 3
Total Credits 16 Total Credits 16

Year Two

FallCreditSpringCredit
COMM 225 OR DSGN 240 3 COMM 251 Public Relations Techniques 3
STBE 137 Quantitative Reasoning 3 COMM 331 Adv. Media Writing 3
COMM 224 4 THEO/PHIL 3
Wellness Concepts 1 Electives 6
KIN Activity 1-2
Natural Science 3
Total Credits 15-16 Total Credits 15

Year Three

FallCreditSpringCredit
COMM 326 (Fall only) 3 COMM 340 Global Communication (Spring only) 3
COMM 305 (Fall only) 3 COMM 327, 329, or 361 3
Electives 6 Humanities 3
Creative Arts 3 THEO/PHIL 3
Electives 3
Total Credits 16 Total Credits 15

Year Four

FallCreditSpringCredit
COMM 353 Cases and Research in Strategic Communication 3 COMM 405 Strategic Communication Campaigns 3
Electives 9 COMM 432 Media Law (Spring only) 3
THEO/PHIL 3 Electives 9
6
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

Scholarships and Grants

Undergraduate Scholarships

For academic/merit-based awards, eligible students are matched to the qualifying award; some of them are listed below.

For need-based support, eligibility is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAU school code is 001889.

You may also qualify for a scholarship or grant due to your talent in the fine arts or athletics. Give us a call or send an email so we can get to know you and find the best package for you. (You're also encouraged to seek outside scholarships and begin that search early.)

First-Year Scholarships

Amounts are for first-year students entering St. Ambrose in the 2019-20 academic year. There is no need to apply for the scholarships or grants below; students automatically are eligible if they meet specific criteria. The Admissions Office calculates the award amount by using unweighted high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores.

Your scholarship will automatically renew each year of your undergraduate studies, for up to four years, as long as you maintain satisfactory progress toward an undergraduate degree, a minimum 2.0 GPA, and remain a full-time student. 

On Campus (Merit-Based Scholarships)

Trustee Scholarships
Criteria: unweighted 4.0 GPA and minimum 30 ACT or 1390 SAT score
Award: $23,000/year and invited to compete for a full tuition scholarship

Presidential Scholarships
Criteria: minimum unweighted 3.8 GPA and 28 ACT or 1310 SAT score
Award: $20,000/year

Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
Award: $14,000/year, $15,000/year, $16,000/year, or $17,000/year

University Grants
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
$12,000/year

On Campus (Additional Institutional Scholarships)

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarships
Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate
Award: $1,000/year

Fr. Menke Catholic Parish Scholarships
Criteria: member of a Catholic parish in the Diocese of Davenport
Award: varies

Freeman Pollard Diversity Awards
Criteria: diverse student
Award: $1,000/year

Off Campus (Merit-Based Scholarships)

Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
Award: $11,000/year, $12,000/year, $13,000/year, or $14,000/year

University Grants
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
Award: $10,000/year

Off-Campus (Additional Institutional Scholarships)

Fr. Menke Catholic Parish Scholarships
Criteria: member of a Catholic parish in the Diocese of Davenport
Award: varies

Freeman Pollard Diversity Awards
Criteria: diverse student
Award: $500/year

International Student Scholarships

At SAU, our international students can qualify for university scholarships and grants based on academic achievement, merit, and their performance and abilities in fine arts and athletics.

Below, you'll find a quick summary of financial awards, and we continually look for ways to make an Ambrosian education even more affordable and attainable. Recently, we began offering athletic scholarships for Marching Band and Esports.

If you have any questions or want to apply, please contact the International Student Admissions office. 

Institutional Scholarships (2018-19)
There is no need to apply for the scholarships or grants below; students are automatically are eligible if they meet specific criteria, although some may require a certain GPA to stay eligible.

Academic Scholarship
$14,000-17,000/year

Athletic Scholarships
We have many international student-athletes who are contributing and growing their skills as valued team players. As a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), St. Ambrose can award athletic scholarships to student-athletes. The amount varies and is based on performance and ability. These scholarships allow you to earn a college education while competing in the sport that you love. At Ambrose, we embody the value of developing both the mind and body.

To qualify for an athletic scholarship you must be eligible to play a sport at St. Ambrose. You can read about those qualifications here. The NAIA also has a complete website on how to register for eligibility at playNAIA.org

To learn more about all of our athletic teams and opportunities – including Esports – click here

Fine Art Scholarships

These scholarships are based on your performance and ability in art, music, or theatre, and you may qualify for the Michael Kennedy Theatre Scholarship. Audition or portfolio required. Contact the Admissions office to apply or for more information. 

See below to learn more about outside scholarships and we encourage you to begin your search early.

Transfer Scholarships

Amounts are for transfer students entering St. Ambrose in the 2019-20 academic year. 

St. Ambrose scholarships are awarded for fall and spring semesters only and renewable up to 120 credits of undergraduate study, which includes credits transferred to St. Ambrose from prior attendance. For example: If you transfer in with an AA/AS degree, you would receive a scholarship for two additional years at St. Ambrose.

Scholarships

Phi Theta Kappa
Criteria: awarded to all Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society members transferring from a community college
Award: $14,000

OR

Transfer Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on GPA
Awards:
3.5-4.00 GPA $13,000 
3.0-3.49 GPA $12,000
2.5-2.99 GPA $11,000 
2.0-2.49 GPA $9,000 

Out-of-State Grants
Criteria: non-Iowa resident
Award: $2,000 per year

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarships
Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate; on-campus students only
Award: $1,000 per year

Dual Admission Scholarships
Criteria: participant in SAU/community college dual admission program
Award: $1,000 per year

Freeman Pollard Diversity Awards
Criteria: diverse student
Award: $1,000 per year on-campus; $500 per year off-campus

Federal and State Aid

Federal Pell Grant
Criteria: based on financial need; file FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1
Award: $6,095 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Criteria: based on financial need, priority to Pell Grant recipients. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1.
Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study
Criteria: based on financial need. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1
Award: $1,850

Iowa Tuition Grant
Criteria: based on financial need, Iowa residents only. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1, deadline July 1.
Award: $5,650

Athletic Scholarships

As a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), St. Ambrose can award athletic scholarships to student-athletes. These scholarships allow you to earn a college education while competing in the sport that you love. At Ambrose, we embody that value of developing both the mind and body.

How do I qualify for an athletic scholarship?
You must first be eligible to play a sport at St. Ambrose. You can read about those qualifications here. The NAIA also has a complete website on how to register for eligibility at playNAIA.org

With more than 25 varsity athletic teams and 12 state-of-the-art facilities in which to play them, the Fighting Bees of SAU are bold contenders on any field. Watch this video

Fine Arts Scholarships

How do I qualify for a fine arts scholarship? 
Scholarships are awarded based on performance and ability in art, music and theatre. Review the various requirements below:

Outside Scholarships

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources, here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Another tip: Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Bee Central where we post more flyers and applications for outside scholarships.


Keri Gleason '13


"It was in the Communication Department that I learned one of the most important lessons during undergrad. It's not about getting things right the first time; it's about what you learn along the way. The professors I had for my Public Relations major taught me more than just what was in the books. I was taught and encouraged to think outside the box, express creativity, and take risks with my writing."

Read about another Communication Department graduate, Tim Bladel '14

Shelby Steger

Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Multimedia Journalism,Class of 2015


An internship can reaffirm a career passion or challenge a student to consider another direction – as was the case for Shelby. While she was hands-on working in broadcast journalism, she discovered it was not the career she wanted. She refocused her efforts and discovered a new field that perfectly fit her education and goals. Today, Shelby is a MCR talent acquisition specialist for HNI Corp., in Muscatine, Iowa.

See My Story

Apply Visit Info

Contact


Jim Baumann, PhD, Chairperson

Communication Department
Galvin Fine Arts Center, Office 35
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803
563-333-6048
BaumannJamesA@sau.edu

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!