List of Photography Universities in the U.S.

Photography universities offer bachelor's and master's degrees that specialize in digital or manual photography, preparing the student for many different careers behind the camera. Graduates can go on to become studio or fashion photographers or even work on movie sets.

Bachelor's degree and graduate programs in photography are available and students can find concentrations in either digital or manual photography. While fine arts programs typically house photography training, there are also photography programs that tie into other disciplines, such as advertising or marketing.

Top Ten Schools with Fine Arts Programs

Students have a number of institutions to choose from when looking for photography or fine arts programs; here's information on some of the top schools:

College/University Institution Type Location Degrees Offered Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*
California Institute of the Arts private, not-for-profit, 4 year Valencia, CA Bachelor's, master's Undergraduate: $43,986 Graduate: $43,986
Carnegie Mellon University private, not-for-profit, 4 year Pittsburgh, PA Bachelor's, master's Undergraduate: $50,665 Graduate: $41,371
Columbia University-New York private, not-for-profit, 4 year New York, NY Bachelor's, master's Undergraduate: $53,000 Graduate: $44,176
Cranbrook Academy of Art private, not-for-profit, 4 year Bloomfield Hills, MI Master's Graduate: $35,886
Maryland Institute College of Art private, not-for-profit, 4 year Baltimore, MD Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $43,870 Graduate: $43,870
Rhode Island School of Design private, not-for-profit, 4 year Providence, RI Bachelor's, master's Undergraduate: $45,840 Graduate: $45,840
School of the Art Institute of Chicago private, not-for-profit, 4 year Chicago, IL Bachelor's, master's Undergraduate: $43,960 Graduate: $46,630
University of California-Los Angeles public, 4 year Los Angeles, CA Master's Undergraduate: in state $12,763 out of state $37,471 Graduate: in state $12,629, out of state $27,731
Virginia Commonwealth University public, 4 year Richmond, VA Bachelor's, master's Undergraduate: in state $12,772, out of state $31,464 Graduate: in state $12,779, out of state: $24,002
Yale University private, not-for-profit, 4 year New Haven, CT Bachelor's, master's Undergraduate: $47,600, Graduate: $38,700

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics

University Selection Criteria

While researching schools, it's important to think about the kind of photography one wants to study, beyond just digital or manual photography. Other considerations may involve facility design and practical experience components:

  • Students will want access to digital labs, dark rooms, professional lighting equipment, film processing labs and other such facilities.
  • In typical photography programs, students learn the techniques and practices of professional photography, and also gain a comprehensive knowledge of the history and theory of the subject.
  • Hands-on practice in photography will familiarize a student with traditional developing and processing methods, as well as introducing techniques for digital media.

Program Information

Prospective students may want to compare the balance between classroom work and hands-on camera practice in the program curriculum; they may also want to consider the capstone requirement. Traditionally, each student in a photography university program must create a professional portfolio or collection of their work before graduation.

Both undergraduate and graduate programs related to photography are available at a number of universities through departments of art, advertising and other disciplines. When selecting an institution, students may want to consider facility access, the amount of hands-on practice they'll receive, and what sub-area they would like to focus on.

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