The ten schools in Alabama that offer training in photography include eight public and two private (not-for-profit) colleges and universities. While just two of the schools below have an undergraduate major in photography, a number offer communication and studio art programs that include concentrations and courses in digital and/or traditional camera work. Student resources vary by institutions and students will be required to provide their own cameras for classes in photography. Many programs include additional exhibition or experience opportunities, such as internships, theses, or gallery showings.
Below are brief overviews of the programs, along with a comparison table with school information and costs of attendance.
Located in Auburn, this public university offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in photography. Although students are expected to use their own personal cameras and purchase their own film, the school does provide access to large-format cameras and lighting equipment. Additional resources include a black-and-white darkroom, critique area, digital lab and studio space with northern light.
Undergraduates who pursue the concentration in photography complete four courses and a senior capstone project. In particular, students learn how to work with both traditional and contemporary media, including those related to installation and video. Although not specific to photography, the Bachelor of Fine Arts program offers a highly selective, study abroad option in Rome, Italy, with courses in art history and drawing, as well as private studio space.
Birmingham Southern College
At this Birmingham-based college, students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art, and both programs allow for electives in photography. Course topics may include a study of digital and silver imaging, digital printmaking, photojournalism and the use of single lens reflex cameras. In addition to a junior-year studio, program requirements include a portfolio, a senior thesis and an exhibition in the campus-based gallery. Unique to the college is the January Exploration and the opportunity to engage in a special project or participate in an off-campus internship.
Jacksonville State University
The state university in Jacksonville is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and undergraduates in the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts programs can pursue a concentration in photography. In particular, students can learn about black-and-white, color and digital photography, explore the medium as a fine art and become familiar with darkroom techniques. Instruction takes place at the upper level, and additional program features include a Photography Club and access to a digital lab.
A Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Huntsville, Oakwood University offers an Associate of Science in Art and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Media, and both programs include courses in photography. Students enrolled in the associate's program can pursue a 33-credit concentration in photography and learn how to use both digital and traditional cameras. Course topics include basic, digital and studio photography, art appreciation, design and the use of Adobe Photoshop software.
The Bachelor of Arts program is designed to prepare undergraduates for careers in broadcasting or journalism and allows for a 27-credit concentration in photojournalism. Core requirements include 19 credits in interpersonal and mass communication, design and reporting, after which students can take the same photography courses found in the associate's program. Additional requirements include a senior seminar and a 3-credit communication internship or practicum.
This Troy-based university is one of just two schools on the list to offer an undergraduate major in photography. Through the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art - Photo Studio program, aspiring professionals acquire a background in basic art and design, while exploring architectural, fashion, landscape or portrait photography. They also have the opportunity to gain some hands-on experience through an internship at a company or professional photography studio. Unique to the program is a senior thesis course, where students supplement their digital and material portfolios with artist's statements and promotional kits.
University of Alabama
Located in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama provides training in photography and studio art through its Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. Both programs allow for a 12-credit concentration in photography, and upper-level courses include topics in digital camera work, studio lighting and photo-based, intaglio and screen printing. Seniors in the advanced photography courses develop portfolios and prepare an exhibition-worthy collection of work.
A concentration in photography is available through the 30-credit Master of Art (MA) program, where students also participate in graduate seminars and critiques. Admission to the 60-credit Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program is by faculty recommendation only, and candidates are drawn from the MA program. Both courses of study require a thesis exhibition and an oral defense or review.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Both the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Fine Arts Art Studio programs at the University of Alabama in Birmingham offer concentrations and courses in photography. Relevant facilities include the campus-based Visual Arts Gallery, and students in the Department of Art and Art History also enjoy opportunities for collaborative projects and internships at nearby galleries and museums.
Unique to the school are intermediate courses in alternative print media and color slide technology. Undergraduates in the digital photography classes have access to computer labs and state-of-the-art software. Electives in photography are also available through the undergraduate art education program.
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Along with Troy University, the University of Alabama in Huntsville is the second school on the list to offer an undergraduate major in photography. Relevant facilities include a fully equipped, digital photography lab with Mac workstations, darkrooms, a lighting studio and a special area for printing murals. At this school, undergraduates have the chance to study with working professionals, go on field trips to Chicago and New York City or study abroad.
Unique to the undergraduate curriculum is a study of experimental and historical darkroom procedures, including those associated with 19th-century processing techniques. In addition to the Bachelor of Fine Arts, the university offers a Bachelor of Arts with concentrated coursework in photography.
University of Montevallo
The state university in Montevallo is a member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and the school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in photography. The program includes 86 credits of major coursework in art history and studio art and culminates in a student exhibition. In addition to traditional darkroom procedures, students become acquainted with both digital and experimental camera work, while taking courses in black-and-white, documentary and studio photography. Additional program features include portfolio development and the opportunity to participate in internships.
University of South Alabama
Through the school's Center of Continuing Education and Conference Services, students at the University of South Alabama in Mobile can pursue a 42-credit certificate program in photography. Formal admission to the school is not required, and students have up to three years to complete the program. Requirements include a 5-course core that provides training in digital and portrait photography, darkroom techniques, lighting and the use of Adobe software. The program culminates in a final portfolio or an exhibition.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Photography Programs Available||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Auburn University||4-year, public; small city||Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art|| $10,424 undergraduate in-state;
$28,040 undergraduate out-of-state*
|Birmingham Southern College||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city|| Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art
|Jacksonville State University||4-year, public; small city||Bachelor of Arts in Art,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art
|$7,500 undergraduate in-state;
$14,700 undergraduate out-of-state*
|Oakwood University||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city|| Associate of Science in Art,
Bachelor of Arts in Communication Media
|Troy University||4-year, public; fringe rural||Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art - Photo Studio||$7,924 undergraduate in-state;
$14,812 undergraduate out-of-state*
|University of Alabama||4-year, public; small city|| Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art,
Master of Arts in Studio Art,
Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art
| $10,170 undergraduate in-state;
$25,950 undergraduate out-of-state;
$10,170 graduate in-state;
$25,950 graduate out-of-state*
|University of Alabama at Birmingham||4-year, public; midsize city|| Bachelor of Arts in Art Studio,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Studio
| $7,766 undergraduate in-state;
$17,654 undergraduate out-of-state*
|University of Alabama in Huntsville||4-year, public; midsize city||Bachelor of Arts in Art Studio,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography
|$9,128 undergraduate in-state;
$20,622 undergraduate out-of-state*
|University of Montevallo||4-year, public; large suburb||Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art|| $11,410 undergraduate in-state;
$22,780 undergraduate out-of-state*
|University of South Alabama||4-year, public; midsize city||Certificate in Photography|| $7,332 undergraduate in-state;
$14,364 undergraduate out-of-state*
Source: *NCES College Navigator