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Online Photography Degree Programs Directory

Welcome to PhotographyDegreeOnline.org, a comprehensive resource for students considering a career in photography. We have researched all the information you need to jump into the creative world of professional photography.

Using the Directory

Filter through over 1,200 programs for photography degrees at nearly 700 schools and universities, using the interactive program directory we've created for you. Use the directory to find the photography program that best suits your interests, skills, and lifestyle. Then find out everything you need to know about earning a degree in photography by reading the guide to photography programs following the directory.

Guide to Photography Programs

Discover the Key Elements of Studying Photography

You can earn professional photography degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s levels, but graduate degrees are uncommon in this field, as advancement is based on experience and networking.

Understand the Advantages of Brick-and-Mortar Programs over Online Programs

You can study photography online or through traditional campus-based programs. Although online photography degrees are available, they are rare because photography is a hands-on profession that requires technical experience in many areas. Depending on your emphasis, it requires anything from engineering skills when designing new cameras and lenses to taking creative initiative when conceiving of sets or lighting schemes. On-campus colleges for photography allow you to polish technical skills like digital imaging and lighting design and photo development in labs.

Online learners can still find reputable, comprehensive photography degrees, but they focus on digital aspects of photography instead of the traditional methods, which involve film development in darkrooms. Online programs tend to be geared toward general photography with the inclusion of specialization courses, so if you are looking for a specific photography concentration, like fashion photography degrees, you will have better luck looking for smaller, niche brick-and-mortar schools.

Build Your Photography Portfolio

Photography differs from other fields in that success does not depend on research-based academic performance, but on your ability to demonstrate artistic talent and professional presentation.

In the photography field, your portfolio is your resumé. You can create a hard copy in the form of a professional album, as well as an online portfolio that allows users to navigate your different areas of expertise. If you are interested in several areas of photography, such as wedding photography and portrait photography, create separate sections that showcase each skill set. Many corporations, television stations, film studios, and technical firms have no reservations about hiring online graduates as long as their creative portfolio is up to par.

Learn About the Average Photography Student

Before you pursue a career as a photographer, consider whether your strengths and interests are a good match for photography. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I possess abstract-thinking skills?
  • Am I able to visualize how shooting from different angles alters perception?
  • Do I recognize remarkable features in others to bring out in images?
  • Do I have technical skill for learning new photo editing technology?
  • Do I work well independently to develop my own clientele as a freelance photographer?

If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, photography is a career option worth considering. Although there are many photography disciplines, most photographers exhibit similar personality traits and interests. Portrait photographers, fine artists, and photojournalists alike have abstract- and critical-thinking skills that allow them to contextualize their own artistic thoughts through their images. For example, a political photographer may choose a specific angle from which to photograph a diplomat, thereby completely altering the viewer’s perception and opinion of that person; portrait photographers assess the personal character of their subjects and use lighting, set design, and posture to accentuate those features. Commercial and advertising photographers need to understand their consumers in order to determine which color schemes are more palatable to different types of audiences. On the other end of the spectrum, scientific photographers should be meticulous, detail-oriented, and handy when it comes to troubleshooting microimaging equipment.

See What Classes You’ll Take to Earn a Photography Degree

The most common photography courses found in on-campus and online programs include digital imaging courses, commercial photography classes, technical camera workshops, development lab sessions, professional seminars, and design modules that detail lighting configurations, studio etiquette, and the history of photography. Some of the most common courses found in photography degree programs include:

This course introduces you to the invention of photography and the cultural and media changes it created. The course digs into the scientific process of imprinting film images, chemical photo processing, and the evolution of digital photography.
This course shows you different platforms for digital generating, manipulating, and publishing of images, such as Adobe and Lightbox applications. The course specifically highlights processes such as image scaling, resolution optimization, film scanning, and photo editing.
This course teaches you different lighting configurations and tools so you can achieve a specific aesthetic during your shoots. The course often allows students to experiment with strobe and tungsten equipment during a shoot, and there is often a lab or workshop component.
These sessions are required since they help you build your own portfolio and visual brand, which helps when looking for work after graduation. These seminars often focus on creating independent photography businesses and developing the administrative skills needed to manage those enterprises.
These sessions are often required of undergraduates at every level from freshmen to seniors; students are given studio time and resources to complete independent shoots. These sessions help show your progression both in terms of visual instincts and technical comprehension.
While these courses are integral to earning your degree, you will also benefit from peer critique sessions and technical workshops. You should also proactively shoot whenever you can in order to constantly improve your eye and visual techniques.

Focus Your Photography Studies

When considering a photography education, think about which aspects of photography engage or excite you the most. If you are more inclined toward film and narrative storytelling, fine art photography is a better choice for you. But if you are more interested in technical skills like lighting, white balancing, or setting the blocking for shots, think about becoming a photographer for corporations like news agencies, magazines, or athletic organizations, where artistic vision is secondary to objectively showing how an event occurred. Not only is the career selection drastically different, but many jobs in the latter field require a bachelor’s degree, while more independent, creative positions are based on past experience and having a good eye.

Discover Your Photography Degree Options

You can earn a photography degree at the following levels:

An associate’s degree typically takes one to two years to complete and is a good option for students who want an introductory primer to the history and process of photography. An associate’s will not unlock the full array of photography professions for you, but it will qualify you to become a print worker, desktop application publisher, or an independent photographer.
A bachelor’s degree takes about four years to earn, and most of these programs don’t offer specialty degrees, but do offer specialty courses. Some online and on-campus programs will have niche specializations in fashion and marketing, but most degree programs are comprehensive and offer courses across the career spectrum. For example, you won’t find an abundance of wedding photography degrees, but you will find programs that offer a course in events and wedding photography. A bachelor’s is a great choice if you are looking to hone your technical camera skills or expand your job outlook. Specifically, you can find work as a photojournalist, an aerial photographer, or an industrial photographer.
Master’s programs take two to three years to complete and are optimal for those who want to distinguish their skills further. A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for professional purposes, but a master’s will give you proper credentials for studio management positions. Additionally, you could create your own imaging company or act as a consultant for businesses that require appealing visual marketing campaigns.

Note that there is no official accrediting agency in the United States specifically for photography degree programs, so many hiring managers use school prestige and ranking as a way to assess the quality of your education and degree. Therefore, you should always attend an institutionally accredited school to distinguish your resumé and skill set from others.

Learn What Photographers Do on the Job

All photographers are concerned with capturing telling images for promotional, journalistic, scientific, entertainment, or educational reasons. The way they do this differs considerably between photographers; some prefer developing film while others prefer the pixel-resolution capabilities of digital imaging.

Because of the increase in digital technology and entrepreneurial activity, there is a greater need for commercial branding. Photographers who earn a commercial or advertising photography degree or have an impressive marketing image portfolio can pursue careers in this field. Graduates who choose other specialty programs such as sports photography degree programs can find jobs in media outlets. Lastly, many fine artists and portrait photographers are commissioned by museums or organizations like National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Discover the Job Outlook for Photography Professionals

The photography industry boasts a diverse list of jobs ranging from food photography to graphic design. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an estimated job growth of 14% for all photography-related positions, including professions in the arts, design, sports, entertainment, and media fields. Competition is high because of reduced requirements to enter the field, even though positions in product photography and photojournalism require a bachelor’s degree.

Salaried positions are difficult to find because many companies and organizations choose to contract freelance photographers as needed. Photographers are paid a median hourly rate of $14, but those working in the entertainment or sports industries make considerably more at approximately $20 an hour. The largest, most populous states have the highest numbers of employed photographers because they have more clients. California (5,400 employed photographers), New York (4,550), and Texas (3,500) are the leading states in photographer employment.