Public Relations and Strategic Communication

If your desire is to shape and influence how people receive information about a company or organization, your career path into public relations should begin at St. Ambrose University.

Our graduates work in many industries and businesses both online and in corporate environments. Our graduates have secured positions in advertising, marketing, PR agencies, Human Resources, travel and tourism, media, non-profit organizations, sports management, and more.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Classes prepare PR majors with tactical and campaign projects for their online portfolio.
  • Internships in a wide variety of industries.
  • Media-rich experience for both writing, broadcasting, and PR campaign creation.

students in front of class

Students in lecture

Professor sitting down and talking to students

Our professors give you breadth of perspective, experience, and adaptability 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 take on the challenges of a career or graduate school.

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. For the capstone class during your senior year, you become an associate of the Ambrose Public Relations Agency (APRA). Your work – on behalf of the agency and in tandem with your classmates – will result in a meaningful and enticing 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's examples of what you can accomplish at SAU to strengthen your writing and better understand the nuances of working with media:

  • Get involved with The Buzz, SAU's student-run newspaper. When you join the staff, you make decisions about content; report and edit stories; handle design and layout pages; take pictures; 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, broadcast live sporting events, and work as on-air talent. Check out the SAUtv YouTube Channel.
  • KALA-FM Radio broadcasts and streams 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, tenacity, and professionalism – and as a result our students soar. Check out the awards KALA and SAUtv students earned from the Iowa Broadcast News Association on the Digital Media Production/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 Have Alumni of This Program Done?
  • Kler Soe: World Relief
  • Mary Rose: Account Manager, TAG Communications
  • Brook Hass: Mindfire and John Deere
  • MacKenzie Taylor, Peoria Convention and Visitors Bureau
What are some potential career outcomes?

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

Our graduates find rewarding 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
Liz Lareau, MS, Lecturer

Communication Center/SAUtv and KALA Radio Staff and Instructors
Greg Armstrong, SAUtv Operations
Dave Baker, KALA Operations Manager
Jordan Franks, Production Specialist

Degree Requirements

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

View courses and descriptions in the online course catalog

+ENGL 101 English Composition
COMM 224 Digital Media Production (4 credits)
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 333 Digital Media Writing
COMM 340 Global Communication
COMM 353 Cases & Research in Strategic Communication
COMM 405 Strategic Communication Campaigns
COMM 432 Media Law
AD 240 Designing Data

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

+satisfies general education requirement

C+ Average required throughout the major.

Communication Studies Minor (15 credits)

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

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

AD 240 Designing Data 3 COMM 251 Public Relations Techniques 3
STBE 137 Quantitative Reasoning 3 COMM 333 Digital Media Writing 3
Wellness Concepts 1 Electives 6
KIN Activity 1-2
Natural Science 3
Total Credits 15-16 Total Credits 15

Year Three

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

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
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

Scholarships and Grants


St. Ambrose offers excellent scholarships and grants, work-study and other financial aid options! Full-time students may be eligible based on your strong academic performance in college, your talent in fine arts or athletics or your demonstrated financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAU school code for the FAFSA is 001889.

First-Year Scholarships and Institutional Aid 2024-2025

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.0 GPA: $24,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $22,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $20,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $18,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $14,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.

Merit-Based Scholarships

4.o GPA: $17,000
3.75-3.99 GPA: $16,000
3.0-3.749 GPA: $15,000
2.5-2.99 GPA: $14,000
2.0-2.49 GPA: $13,000
If GPA is 2.0-2.49, additional documents and review required for admission.


Ambrose Advantage Full-Tuition Scholarship
Pell-eligible Iowa residents, learn more here

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarship: $500 per year
Parent is a St. Ambrose graduate

Catholic Traditions Scholarship: $1,000 per year
Students with Catholic religious denomination or plans to graduate from Catholic high school 

Minority Scholarship: $500 per year
Ethnically diverse student

Athletic Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability

Fine Arts Scholarships: varies
Performance and ability in music, art and theatre

Faith Learning Justice Campus Ministry Scholarships: $2,000 per year
Recognition of involvement in church and community service and interest in strengthening faith and growing as a leader in campus ministry

Scholarships are determined by unweighted GPA, and are renewable for four years of undergraduate student. Increases in scholarship awards due to change in GPA will be reviewed until March 1.

State and Federal Grants, Work Study

Grants are money that you don't repay, and they can come from government or private sources. SAU receives all financial aid funds directly - including loans and grants - then applies them to your account: once in the fall term and once in the spring term. Grants can be used to cover your tuition, books, and housing costs. You must apply for grants each academic year. If you have any loan funds in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement. For all of these grants, you must complete the Free Application Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it is available.

Iowa Tuition Grant
To be eligible for the Iowa Tuition Grant, you must be a resident of Iowa as defined by the State Board of Regents and currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an undergraduate degree program at an eligible Iowa college or university (SAU is eligible). Iowa College Aid administers need-based college financial aid for Iowans, such as the Iowa Tuition Grant.
Award: $7,500 maximum

Federal Pell Grant
Awarded to students of the highest need based on how much your family can contribute to your education. The U.S. Department of Education sets a threshold. Then, when you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it computes where you land within that threshold and determines if you qualify for the grant and for how much.
Award: $6,895 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
You must file a FAFSA to qualify for a Pell Grant. This grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students who have submitted all required documents for review and in time for the review to be complete. If you are eligible for a Pell Grant or SEOG, the awards will appear on your financial aid award letter.
Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study
Must secure campus employment.
Award: $2,560

Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant 
Provides aid to students intending to teach in a high-need field at a school that serves low-income families (as determined by the U.S. Department of Education or a state education agency). Review criteria and all details here.
Award: up to $4,000

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 Student Financial Services 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

Daniel Molinero

Bachelor of Arts in Communication,Marketing Technology and Operations Administrator for Agent Support Network of America (ASNOA), Burr Ridge, Ill. ,Class of 2018

Our communication programs do not prepare students. We prepare professionals. Daniel sought a program that was as dedicated and enthusiastic about the field as he was. He got hands-on, relevant, genuine experience, and was guided by faculty who stressed ethics and the ever-changing environment. Daniel's education propelled his skills, and goals, even higher than he first imagined.

See My Story

Apply Visit Info


Marianne Fenn, PhD, Chairperson

Communication Department
Galvin Fine Arts Center, Office 42
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

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