Online Associates Degree in Photography: Program Summary

Dec 04, 2019

Essential Information

Since photography courses require hands-on fieldwork, as well as darkroom processing steps, fully online associate's degree programs in the subject are rare. However, students may find programs that offer general education and theory-focused courses remotely. Photography programs typically require students to purchase an array of related equipment, including a camera, lenses and a photo-quality printer, even if they are taking classes online. Some programs also request that students use Mac computers. An internship is also included in the program.

Students who are looking for similar programs offered entirely online may consider an online associate's degree in digital photography.

Related Degree Options

Students who are interested in photography can advance their education through bachelor's and master's degree programs. They might also find associate's degree programs in photography-related fields. Degree options include:

  • Associate of Arts in Digital Photography
  • Associate of Arts in Visual Development
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography
  • Master of Fine Arts in Photography

Online Associate's Degree in Photography Program Summary

Though seldom offered fully online, associate's degree programs in photography may lead to an Associate of Applied Science in Digital Photography or an Associate of Art in Photography. Hands-on courses in formatting, editing and taking photographs are an essential part of photography degree programs, which is why the field isn't well-suited to online learning. However, certain courses - such as theory courses or those devoted to the use of photography software - may be offered online by schools with on-campus programs.

Students in a traditional program study concepts in lighting, digital and film photography, setting up a photo shoot and choosing angles. Throughout the program, they acquire skills in using darkroom equipment, printing and displaying photos, developing their own style and creating aesthetically pleasing photographs. To be eligible for a 2-year photography degree program, students must have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Online Program Information and Requirements

Even in the few programs offered online, students may need to do some local traveling and have access to a darkroom. They may also need to complete a photography internship, such as working in a photo studio. The online portion of the program can be accessed by logging into the university's web-based application. There, students can interact with classmates, complete assignments, watch video lectures depicting step-by-step photography techniques and contact professors.

Students typically need a computer, reliable Internet access and a valid e-mail address to complete this program. They may also need a word processor (such as Microsoft Office Suites), Adobe Flash, Acrobat Reader and a copy of Photoshop.

List of Common Online Associate-Level Photography Courses

Online photography courses offered at the associate's degree level are typically asynchronous, so students can study and complete assignments on their own schedules. In addition to photography classes, students take general education classes (which may also be offered online).

Introductory Digital Photography Course

This course trains students in the process of using a digital camera by emphasizing the differences between digital and film cameras; online students will need to own a digital camera to take this course. The hardware of the camera and the software associated with preparing images are examined. Students submit photographs for their assignments electronically and may need to collect their work into a digital portfolio as a final project.

Photoshop Course

In this class, students learn to use Photoshop software to edit their images for color, tone and style. They study techniques such as giving an image depth and making people look older, younger, slimmer or fatter, among other features. Other course topics may include compositing, image fixing and scanning. Students gain practical experience using the tools to make professional photos.

Photographic Genres Course

This online course introduces students to a range of genres in photography and teaches them how to critically evaluate works in each category. Genres examined may include photojournalism, nature photography, portraiture, commercial photography and scientific photography. Students view photos online and discuss them, considering the context - historical, social, cultural or otherwise - surrounding each image.

Career Information for Graduates

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, becoming a photographer usually requires some college education, although creativity and technical proficiency are also critical. The demand for photography jobs was expected to decline by 6% between 2018 and 2028. The median annual salary for photographers in 2018 was $34,000.

Associate's degree programs in photography offer a broad overview of the field, covering different types of photography, editing techniques and industry applications. While fully online associate's programs in photography are fairly rare, other photography programs are available in a completely online format, including digital photography at the associate's level.

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