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Photojournalism Degree and Diploma Program Overviews

Degrees in photographic technology are available at the associate's level, but students in bachelor's and master's degree programs can enroll in journalism programs with a specialization in photojournalism.

Essential Information

Photojournalism is the practice of delivering a news story or editorial comment through photography. Photojournalism degree programs combine coursework in reporting with artistic and technical instruction in photography. A high school diploma or GED is needed to enroll in an undergraduate photojournalism program. Applicants are advised to take any available high school courses in photography to gain familiarity with the technology. Most master's degree programs require applicants to submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a resume and a portfolio as part of their application. Programs often look for applicants who have former employment or internship experience in photojournalism. Submission of a portfolio may be required for admission to a master's program.

  • Program Levels in Photojournalism: Associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, doctoral degrees.
  • Photojournalism Program Fields: Photographic technology, journalism.
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED; previous high school photography coursework; bachelor's degree; portfolio.
  • Program Specializations Available: Photojournalism typically offered as a concentration in journalism programs.
  • Experiential Learning: Hands-on projects.
  • Online Availability: Some online courses and programs available.

Associate of Applied Science in Photographic Technology

A limited number of schools offer concentrations in photojournalism through Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs in photographic technology. Students in these programs learn the methods used to take photographs and the basic theories of journalism. Most of the coursework emphasizes the correct use of photographic technology to achieve desired photographic effects. Students complete hands-on projects using camera equipment to hone their skills. The coursework in AAS programs that offer a specialization in photojournalism covers topics like photographic design, lighting techniques and digital imaging, as well as journalistic ethics and visual storytelling. Students often complete supervised practical assignments where they prepare a portfolio of their work. The classes noted below are often required:

  • Journalism theory
  • Developing color photographs
  • Digital photography
  • Editorial photography
  • Portrait lighting

Bachelor's Degree in Journalism

Schools commonly allow journalism students enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program to specialize in photojournalism. Applicants to B.A. or B.S. programs in journalism who have previous experience writing for their high school newspaper are at an advantage over applicants with no previous experience. General prerequisites for bachelor's-level programs include submission of high school or GED transcripts, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation. Students specializing in photojournalism take classes in reporting, editorializing and photographic techniques. In addition to teaching practical skills, programs also emphasize the theoretical and aesthetic aspects of the discipline. Students often take classes in the following:

  • Mass communication theory
  • News reporting
  • Photojournalism theory
  • Ethics in photojournalism
  • Visual communication techniques

Master of Arts in Journalism

Many Master of Arts (M.A.) programs in journalism offer a specialization in photojournalism. Programs require students to complete a core of journalism classes and another core of classes relevant to photography. Many programs offer separate tracks for people interested in theoretical or practical applications. Regardless of students' track, they complete hands-on activities to build their skills. The coursework that master's-level photojournalism students take varies depending on the students' track. Students in the research track learn the history of photojournalism and take courses on the analytical aspects of the discipline, while professional-track students learn about real-life methods and practices. The topics below are often covered in required classes:

  • Mass media studies
  • Magazine design
  • Creating photographic essays
  • Quantitative research methods in photojournalism
  • Qualitative research methods in photojournalism

Popular Career Options

People who earn an AAS in photographic technology usually create a portfolio of their work that they show to prospective employers. Since photographic technology AAS programs emphasize general photographic concepts, graduates aren't confined to careers in photojournalism. Graduates with a bachelor's degree are prepared for a variety of careers in photography and journalism. Since there aren't any licensure or certification requirements to be a photojournalist, people who enter the workforce after earning a bachelor's degree can qualify for the same positions as those with more education. However, experience as evidenced by a strong portfolio of photographs is also important. Completing a master's degree program in photojournalism prepares graduates for advanced careers in the field. People who study photojournalism at the master's degree level can work as freelancers or for specific newspapers or magazines. Graduates often choose the following careers:

  • Freelance photojournalist
  • Newspaper photojournalist
  • Commercial photographer
  • Magazine photographer
  • Newspaper photographer
  • Entertainment photographer
  • Independent photojournalist
  • Magazine editor
  • Staff photographer

Continuing Education Options

A limited number of schools allow doctoral students to specialize in photojournalism. These programs emphasize the theoretical and academic aspects of the discipline, preparing graduates for careers in research or academia. The coursework in these programs usually includes classes dealing with media studies.

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