Colleges with Photography Majors and Undergraduate Degree Programs

Various undergraduate programs are available to students who want to learn more about photography or become professional photographers. Programs differ in specific curriculum requirements, program length, and options for extracurricular opportunities, such as internships.

Photography programs can be found at colleges of art and design, community colleges, and universities. Photography programs are offered at three different undergraduate levels: certificate, associate's, and bachelor's programs.

10 Schools with Degrees in Photography

These ten schools have some of the best undergraduate photography education programs in the United States as of 2016. Tuition data is collected from the 2015-2016 school year averages.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Barry University Miami Shores, FL 4-year, Private Bachelor's degree $28,800
Savannah College of Art and Design Savannah, GA 4-year, Private Bachelor's degree $34,970
University of Georgia Athens, GA 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree $11,622 for in-state/$29,832 for out-of-state
University of North Carolina - Greensboro Greensboro, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree $6,745 for in-state/$21,607 for out-of-state
California Institute of the Arts Valencia, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's degree $43,986
Thomas Edison State College Trenton, NJ 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree $6,135 for in-state/$9,036 for out-of-state
Webster University St. Louis, MO 4-year, Private Certificate, Bachelor's degree $25,500
The New School New York, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's degree $43,813
Minneapolis College of Art and Design Minneapolis, MN 4-year, Private Bachelor's degree $35,326
Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private Bachelor's degree $43,870

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when choosing a photography school:

  • Students interested in photography as a hobby or who want to supplement their current professional work with new skills might want to consider a certificate program, while students who want to study photography more in-depth might want an associate's or bachelor's degree.
  • Students should consider the difference between a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts degree: A BFA program will typically have more emphasis on studio and design courses while a B.A. degree might give the student flexibility to take courses in other areas of study.
  • Students can consider potential mentorship opportunities by selecting a program with faculty whose work the student admires.
  • Look for schools that offer access to cutting-edge software and equipment and/or individual studio space, and maintain connections with professional individuals and organizations that can provide internships.

Certificate in Photography

Certificate programs typically take two semesters to complete for full-time students. Some programs are offered for part-time students and take four semesters to complete, and others can include internships. Coursework covers topics like photography techniques, darkroom procedures, and digital editing

Associate's Degree in Photography

Associate's degree programs take two years of full-time study to complete. Students are required to complete general education requirements in addition to photography coursework. Graduates can often transfer their credits to a bachelor's degree program if they desire to do so. Students usually complete an internship or final portfolio project. Coursework includes digital editing, landscape photography, and black and white photography.

Bachelor's Degree in Photography

A B.A. or BFA program typically takes four years to complete. Students take foundational courses in drawing, color theory, and painting, and learn the basics of photography during the first year. Students then study various techniques of both analog and digital photography, including, image composition, lighting, and film processing. Students are encouraged to develop their skills in studio-based classes and complete a senior thesis or exhibition by the end of the program. Courses in art history and theory are also required, and some programs have more extensive liberal arts requirements. A portfolio of work is usually required for entry.

Colleges and universities offering undergraduate photography training typically do so at the certificate, associate's, or bachelor's levels, covering a wide range of topics in theory and practical skill to help improve students' abilities with taking, developing, and editing photographs. Mentorships and internships are often included in these programs, some featuring gallery exhibitions by graduation.

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