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.

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)

View Graphic Design courses and descriptions in the online course catalog

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

Plus 9 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. Read course descriptions in the online Course Catalog

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

Year One

ENGL 101 English composition 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 Science 3 AH 251 Art through the Ages II 3
+ART 231 Digital Photography 3 ART 210 Graphic Design I 3
ART 210 SF Drawing 3
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

Minors in Art

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.

Take 18 credits of Art and Design (AD) courses.

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

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.

All courses are 3 credits.

+AD 140 Computers in Art
+AD 180 Motion Graphics
AD 290 Interaction Design Lab
+CSCI 140 Fundamentals of Computer Science
CSCI 330 Web Programming
CSCI 360 Database Management Systems

Read course descriptions

+ satisfies general education requirement

Art Therapy Minor (24 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.

Required Core:
+AD 100 Drawing
AD 215 Introduction to Art Therapy
PSYC 105 Introduction to Psychology
PSYC 215 Research Methods

Required for Art majors

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

Choose One (3 credits):
PSYC 327 Psychology & Treatment of the Juvenile Offender
PSYC 384 Child & Adolescent Psychology

Required for Psychology majors

+AD 120 3D Design
+AD 190 Digital Photography
+AD 220 Printmaking

Choose One (3 credits):
+AD 225 Papermaking
+AD 230 Intermediate Special Topics
+AD 260 Bookbinding
+AD 270 Painting I

Print and Book Minor (18 credits)

With a Print and Book 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.

+AD 140 computers in Art
+AD 160 Print/Paper Book I
+AD 220 Printmaking
+AD 225 Papermaking
+AD 260 Bookbinding
AD 280 Visual Narratives

Read course descriptions

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, or Music

All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

Choose One (3 credits):
+MUSE 380 Introduction to Museum Studies 
COMM 230 Media Writing
ENGL 315 Written Business Communication

Choose Three (9 credits):
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 

Choose One (3 credits):
+AD 140 210 Computers in Art
COMM 225 Introduction to Visual Communication

Choose One (3 credits):
AH 450 Art Historical Methods and Careers
AH 490 Internship (1-4 credits)
WI-AD 310 Professional Practices
AD 410 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

Apply Visit Info


Joseph Lappie, MFA, Department Chair

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

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