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

  • Hands-On Skills and Classes
  • Liberal Arts Focus
  • Experienced Communication Faculty

students in front of class

Professor and Student with paper

Professor sitting down and talking to students

Our professors will give you the breadth of perspective, experience, and expertise needed to help organizations manage their image through the community and 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 the Strategic Communication Program

What will I learn?

You will develop skills in advertising and public relations techniques and strategies. Courses include Principles of Public Relations, Media Writing, Public Relations Techniques, Media Theory and Ethics, Advertising Copywriting, and 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-only radio station featuring pop, alternative, and some country music. 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.
  • 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 at 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

Ann Preston, Chair and Professor

Jim Baumann, Assoc. Professor
Brett Billman, Asst. Professor
Marianne Fenn, Assoc. Professor
Alan Sivell, Asst. Professor
Carla Stevens, Professor

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

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications (Advertising/Public Relations) (42 credits)

COMM 225 Introduction to Visual Communication
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 306 Group Dynamics and Methods of Decision Making
COMM 326 Communication & Technology or COMM 361 Topics in Strategic Communication
+COMM 329 Business & Professional Speaking
COMM 331 Advanced Media Writing or COMM 323 Advertising Copywriting
COMM 340 Global Communication
COMM 353 Cases & Research in Strategic Communication
COMM 405 Strategic Communication Campaigns
COMM 432 Media Law

C+ required in Comm 225, 230, 232, 240 and 251. C+ Average required throughout the major.

Second major encouraged but not required.

Minor in Communication Studies (15 credits)

+COMM 203 Interpersonal Communication
COMM 306 Group Dynamics and Methods of Decision Making or COMM 327 Organizational Communication
COMM 326 Communication & Technology
+COMM 329 Business & Professional Speaking
COMM 340 Global Communication

Minor in Public Relations (15 credits)

COMM 230 Media Writing
COMM 240 Principles of Public Relations
COMM 251 Public Relations Techniques
COMM 353 Cases & Research in Strategic Communication
COMM 432 Media Law OR COMM 232 Media & Society

Plan to Graduate

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

This plan assumes the student has not satisfied the foreign language requirement.

Year One

COMM 240 3 COMM 230 or 225 3 ENGL 101
ENGL 101 3 COMM 232 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 Elective 3
Total Credits 16 Total Credits 16

Year Two

COMM 225 or 230 3 COMM 251 or 329 3
STBE 137 Quantitative Reasoning 3 COMM 331 or 340 3 COMM 230
COMM 329 or 251 3 THEO/PHIL 3
Wellness Concepts 1 KIN Activity 1-2
Elective 3 Electives 6
Natural Science 3
Total Credits 16 Total Credits 16-17

Year Three

COMM 306 or 331 3 COMM 337 COMM 340 or 306 3 Spring only
COMM 326 3 Fall only COMM 332 1
COMM 332 1 Humanities 3
Creative Arts 3 THEO/PHIL 3
Electives 6 Electives 6
Total Credits 16 Total Credits 16

Year Four

COMM 353 3 COMM 232 COMM 405 3 COMM 224, 305, 337, 375, 432
COMM 305 3 COMM 230; Fall only COMM 432 3 Spring only
THEO/PHIL 3 Electives 9
Electives 6
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 12

Scholarships and Grants


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.)

Institutional scholarships (2018-19)

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

The Admissions Office calculates the award amount by using high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores.

Ambrose Scholar
For First Year, on-campus residents only. Straight As on high school transcript and a minimum 30 ACT score. Applicants who meet Ambrose Scholar criteria will be invited to compete for a full-tuition scholarship for $@{17-18-Tuition}.

Trustee Scholar
$22,000/year - For First-year, on-campus residents only. Unweighted 3.8 GPA, 28+ACT. May be offset by state and/or federal aid if eligible.

Academic Scholarship
$14,000-17,000/year - Based on GPA and ACT/SAT score

University Grant
$12,000/year - Based on high school GPA and ACT/SAT score

Additional Scholarships (2018-19)

If you want to apply for any of the scholarships below, contact the Admissions Office.

Fine Arts Scholarships
Award based on performance and ability in art, music, or theatre. Includes the Michael Kennedy Theatre Scholarship. Audition or portfolio required.

Athletics Scholarships
Award varies. Based on performance and ability. Marching Band scholarships available. See below.

Freeman Pollard Minority Scholarship
$1,000 for on-campus students; $500 for off-campus. For accepted minority students.

Menke Parish Scholarship
Award varies. For First Year students only who are recommended by their parish pastor in the Diocese of Davenport. Recommendation form (pdf) to be completed by your pastor.

Father Welch Alumni Scholarship
$1,000/year. For on-campus students only whose parent is a St. Ambrose graduate.

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

Transfer Scholarships

Amounts are for transfer students entering St. Ambrose in the 2018-19 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.

For questions about any of the awards below, give our friendly Financial Aid Office a call at 563-333-5775.

Institutional Aid

Guaranteed Minimum Scholarship Award 

based on GPA (Grade Point Average)
3.5-4.00 GPA: $12,000 per year scholarship award
3.0-3.49 GPA: $11,000 per year scholarship award
2.5-2.99 GPA: $10,000 per year scholarship award
2.0-2.49 GPA: $8,000 per year scholarship award

Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society

Criteria: Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society membership
Award: $12,500/year for new transfer students, renewable each year up to eight semesters, including transfer hours. Scholarships awarded for fall and spring semesters only. GPA is based on 4.0 scale.

Out-of-State Grant

Criteria: non-Iowa resident
Award: $2,000/year

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarship

Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate; on-campus students only
Award: $1,000/year

Freeman Pollard Diversity Award

Criteria: accepted diverse student
Award: $1,000/year on-campus; $500/year off-campus

Athletics Scholarship

Criteria: performance and ability
Marching band scholarships also available
Award varies

Fine Arts Scholarship

Criteria: performance and ability in art, music, theatre
Audition or portfolio required
Award varies

Dual Admission Scholarship

Criteria: participant in SAU/community college dual admission program
Award: $1,000 maximum

Federal and State Aid

Federal Pell Grant

Criteria: based on financial need; file FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1
Award: $5,920 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 Award

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: @{Iowa-Tuition-Grant}

Carver Scholarship

Criteria: Iowa resident and entering junior, visit for eligibility details, deadline April 1.
Award: $7,600 maximum

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

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!