Art and Design

Whether you want to impact lives and culture through painting, capture the attention of the world through iconic graphic design, or learn the rare craft of book art, we will challenge and support your authentic, artistic growth so you can master your passion.

Our graduates work at the Figge Art Museum, Jeff Koons Studio New York, Genesis Health Systems, and others.

2020 Senior Honors Art Show

View the work of our 2020 seniors on Flickr

Senior Honors 2020

Ambrose Advantages

  • A Contemporary and Complete Art Experience
  • Craft Your Degree to Your Passion
  • Learn From Professional Artists and Designers

abstract panting

Design Lab

Graphic Designer at Mac laptop

Creativity is a path every artist travels. At St. Ambrose, new experiences, exploration, and personal discovery will fuel the journey. And, as our faculty guide, spark and elevate your artistic growth, you'll gain the confidence to excel at what you love.

Read Our Bachelor of Art programs Fact Sheet (pdf)

Use Art to Help Others

student painting

Art Therapy Minor

Give people a creative way to express their deepest thoughts and feelings. Art and Psychology majors can minor in Art Therapy and create a career focused on service. You can empower clients to unlock, understand, heal, and grow.

More Information on Majors in Graphic Design, Book Arts, and Painting

What will I learn?

At St. Ambrose, you get contemporary and complete art experience. You'll master basic drawing and hand skills, problem-solving, writing, and learn to conduct relevant and accurate research.

In later semesters you will learn to synthesize influences and establish an original voice. You will explore and build creativity to establish your niche in the field.

Where will I learn?

We believe in practice, play, and discovering your potential - and we give you room to do all three.

Our Art Department is in the Galvin Fine Arts Center. The 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 is home to two public galleries – the Morrissey and Catich – for you to exhibit your work. You'll take some foundation and advanced courses  in studios at the Figge Museum in downtown Davenport, and as a huge bonus, our students can visit the museum's collection, attend lectures, and participate in workshops for free.

How can I expand on my classroom education?

Service is fundamental to who we are as a university. At SAU, you can see the world through the eyes of a refugee by helping one acclimate to life in the U.S. You can give a few hours to help campus neighbors prepare their homes for winter, clean litter from an iconic river, and stand with your peers to advance social justice. Service expands your vision and understanding of the world, your community, and yourself. It becomes part of who you are as an artist. 

In fact, go further and touch more lives with your compassion. We are one of few universities in Iowa offering Peace Corps Prep, a series of courses that can make you a stronger candidate for volunteer positions after college. You'll gain skills and a cultural worldview that employers value and best of all, most students can earn the certificate - awarded by the Peace Corps - without taking extra courses. Click here to learn more or contact your faculty advisor.

Act on your interests and values, and expand them, too, side-by-side with your peers. We have 80+ student clubs and organizations.

What are some possible job outcomes?

There are so many ways to use your creativity and opportunities to perfect or share your craft.

As a professional artist, you can build a career in virtually every facet of work.

Here's just a sampling of job titles:

  • graphic or web designer
  • gallery director
  • curator
  • museum educator or preparatory
  • photojournalist
  • visual communications specialist
  • production artist
  • illustrator
  • research assistant
  • design assistant
  • project coordinator
  • typographer
  • book production artist
  • sign painter
  • media designer
  • printer
What have alumni of this program done?
  • After graduation, Brittney Allen '14 interviewed for a summer internship at Lynco Products. They were so captivated by her work they created a full-time position for her.
  • 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.
  • Maurita (Flo) Fitzpatrick '11 paired a marketing minor with her art degree. Today she works for WEA Member Benefits in Madison, Wisc., as a marketing assistant. She also is self-employed as the owner of Maurita Fitzpatrick Graphic Design.
Faculty and Staff

Joseph Lappie, MFA, Assoc. Professor and Chair

Terri Buesing-Flynn, Clerk
Renee Meyer Ernst, MFA, Assoc. Professor
Kristin Quinn, MFA, Professor
Christopher Reno, MFA


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. The Art Scholarship is comprised of two parts: a Portfolio and QuestionnaireClick here to learn more about submitting your portfolio.

Not quite ready? Get a review of your artwork

Share some samples of your work with an Art faculty member to get early feedback about your portfolio before putting it together formally. Send a few .jpg or .pdf files through a quick and secure system: click here to upload your artwork.

You can also read some tips on how to compile a great portfolio.

Digital submissions are accepted on an ongoing basis, but preference is given to those who submit before March 10.


Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree (all majors)

Click here to read about majors in Graphic Design, Book Arts, and Painting.

In addition to the required courses listed below, students must complete separate requirements in their major.

+ART 100 Drawing
+ART 200 2D Design
+ART 210 3D Design
+ART 280 Visual Narratives
+ART 300 Figure Composition
DSGN 210 Computers in Art
+AH 250 Art Through the Ages I
+AH 251 Art Through the Ages II

Minors in Art

Art Minor

Art Minor (18 credits)

With an Art Minor, you gain an application of technical skills in a variety of mediums. You will also learn how to explain and demonstrate the ways in which basic design principles are applied in a variety of art media, methods, and techniques to solve visual problems in unique and intriguing ways.

+ART 100 Drawing and 15 additional credits of ART courses.

+ Satisfies a General Education requirement

View requirements for Book ArtsGraphic Design, and Painting

Check out our other art-related majors in Art History and Museum Studies minor.

Arts Administration Minor (18 credits)

With an Arts Administration Minor, you gain the ability to identify and apply a breadth of business skills and concepts.

You will also learn how to effectively communicate business and organizational ideas orally, in writing and through basic visual design, as well as develop adaptability and critical thinking skills necessary to work in the arts.

All Arts Administration minors are expected to have a major in one of the following areas: Art, Art History, English, History, Music, Theater

All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

Choose One:
+MUSE 380 Introduction to Museum Studies 
COMM 230 Media Writing
ENGL 315 Written Business Communication

Take 9 credits from the following:
ACCT 201 Financial Accounting
COMM 240 Principles of Public Relations
COMM 251 Public Relations Techniques
MGMT 210 Principles of Management
MGMT 216 Entrepreneurship and Innovation
MKTG 209 Principles of Marketing
MGMT 320 Human Resource Management
MKTG 359 Social Media Marketing
SLS 335 Sales Principles 

Take 3 credits from the following:
DSGN 210 Computers in Art
COMM 225 Introduction to Visual Communication

Take 3 credits from the following:
AH 450 Art Historical Methods and Careers
AH 490 Internship (1-4 credits)
WI-ART 410 Professional Practice
ART 499 Internship (1-3 credits)
ENGL 400 Writing Internship (1-6 credits)
THTR 399 Internship (1-5 credits)

+ Satisfies a General Education requirement
WI writing intensive

Click here to view requirements for Book ArtsGraphic Design, and Painting
Check out our other art-related majors in Art History and Museum Studies minor.

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

Graphic Design Minor (18 credits)

With a Graphic Design Minor, you gain a working knowledge of basic design principles and production techniques in addition to the ability to effectively organize verbal, visual, and written information for diverse audiences.

All courses are 3 credits.

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

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

Book Arts Minor (18 credits)

With a Book Arts Minor, you can use interdisciplinary knowledge to express the distribution of content and learn technical competency in book, paper, and print techniques, yielding a comprehensive skill set for real-world art and design.

All courses are 3 credits.

+ART 100 Drawing
+ART 220 Printmaking
+ART 260 Bookbinding
DSGN 210 Computers in Art

Choose 6 credits from the following:
+ART 250 Papermaking
+ART 290 Screen Printing
ART 320 Advanced Printmaking
WI-ART 360 Artist's Books
ART 390 Letterpress
DSGN 220 Typography

Design and Interactive Media Minor (18 credits)

With a Design & Interactive Media Minor, students gain an understanding of the basic principles of graphic design, working knowledge of fundamental applications and languages of computer science, and skills to develop integrative approaches to solving interactive media challenges using design and code.

DSGN 210 Computers in Art
DSGN 420 Web Design
DSGN 430 Interaction Design or +DSGN 300 Special Topics
+CSCI 140 Fundamentals of Computer Science
CSCI 330 Web Programming
CSCI 360 Database Management Systems

Meet one of our alums

Adam Little '11 said he "absolutely valued – and still value – the faculty at Ambrose. The instructors allowed me to develop in a way that was specific to me and supported me along the way. I was never discouraged from pursuing or experimenting with new ideas/techniques/materials. The staff at St Ambrose are some of the most giving and understanding teachers that I have ever met."

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? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.