Saint Ambrose University

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Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
Carnegie Classification
Master's Colleges & Universities: Larger Programs
Religious Affiliation
Roman Catholic

St. Ambrose University is a small, private Catholic liberal arts institution in Davenport, IA. SAU’s beginnings date back to a seminary and business school for men founded in 1882 by the Diocese of Davenport, and was named for the patron saint of education and learning (who is traditionally pictured with a book and scroll in hand). Today, after more than a century of growth and development, SAU is a coed, highly respected private university, ranked by U.S. News & World Report in the top 35 regional colleges for the Midwest, as well as a best college for veterans and a best value for their combination of academic excellence and affordable tuition.

Academic Programs

SAU remains dedicated to its traditional liberal arts heritage, grounding all of its curriculum in classical humanities and sciences that make up the model. As a Catholic institution, dedicated to the values of St. Ambrose, academic rigor is only the beginning; spiritual growth along Catholic values of fairness, responsibility, and service are also central to learning at St. Ambrose. While humanities and liberal arts remain at the heart of SAU’s curriculum, the university has also developed a strong reputation for pre-professional and professional programs, including specialized accreditations in areas like industrial engineering, nursing, and physical and occupational therapy.

SAU offers more than 40 undergraduate majors, more than a dozen master’s programs, and three doctorates – physical therapy, occupational therapy, and business administration. With an 11:1 student:faculty ratio, students can trust that they will receive the kind of close, personal guidance and mentorship that private Catholic education is renowned for. St. Ambrose is also the only college in Iowa offering a doctorate of Occupational Therapy, while SAU students have a 97% pass rate for the National Physical Therapy Examination, making SAU one of the top institutions in the nation for physical and occupational therapy.

Student Life

St. Ambrose University’s student body numbers more than 3000, with more women than men (a surprising turn, since SAU did not admit women until 1969). Sixteen percent of students identify as an ethnic or racial minority, a high proportion for Iowa, where more than 90% of residents are white. This relative diversity keeps SAU in line with Catholic values, which emphasize inclusion and respect for all cultures. Students take part in many activities, many built on Catholic faith and identity, especially worship and service through Campus Ministry. SAU has also been recognized by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its high degree of participation in the community by students and faculty.

SAU’s mascot is the Fighting Bee, named for a legend about St. Ambrose, the school’s namesake (as an infant, a swarm of bees surrounded the baby and dropped honey into his mouth, symbolizing the eloquence that would make him a great missionary). With more than two dozen NAIA sports (and football, which competes in the NCAA Division II), St. Ambrose offers many opportunities for student athletes to compete, and for fans to cheer.

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?