Photographer Training: Top Ranked Photography School - Philadelphia, PA

Around nine schools in the Philadelphia area have photography programs. Read on to find out more about what these top schools have to offer for photography, as well as tuition and degree information.

School and Ranking Information

Students seeking a photography program in Philadelphia can choose from roughly nine schools within a 25-mile radius of the downtown area. Based on rankings and program offerings, the best three schools offering photography programs are Temple University, Drexel University, and The University of the Arts (UArts), which are all located right in Philadelphia.

  • Winner: Temple University's Tyler School of Art offers Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in photography, and its graduate program was ranked in the top 20 nationally in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Runner-Up #1: Drexel University has a photography bachelor's degree program and had the highest national ranking among these schools in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Runner-Up #2: The University of the Arts (UArts) in downtown Philadelphia offers an undergraduate degree in photography, as well as two minors. Its graduate fine arts program made the top 60 nationally in 2012.

School Comparison Chart

Category Temple University Drexel University The University of the Arts
Rankings 20th for Top Graduate Photography Programs, nationwide (2012)*, 13th for Top Graduate Fine Arts Programs, nationwide (2012)*, 125th for Top National Universities (2013)*, 60th for Top Public Schools, nationwide (2013)* 83rd for Top National Universities (2013)* 53rd for Top Graduate Fine Arts Programs, nationwide (2012)*
Location Philadelphia, PA Philadelphia, PA Philadelphia, PA
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees in 2012-2013 $13,596 (in-state, undergraduate), $23,422 (out-of-state, undergraduate); $12,956 (in-state, graduate), $17,888 (out-of-state, graduate)** $36,090 (undergraduate)** $34,840 (undergraduate)**
Photography Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees** Bachelor's degree** Bachelor's degree**
Photography Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012 25** 16** 25**
Most Popular Photography Program in 2011-2012 Bachelor's degree (23 awarded)** Bachelor's degree (16 awarded)** Bachelor's degree (25 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class 68% (20% transfer-out rate)** 68%** 62%**
Noteworthy Temple's Tyler School of Arts was among the first in the nation to offer BFA and MFA degrees in photography and color photography coursework*** Drexel's Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design holds an annual high school photography contest*** Time, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and Aperture have published works by the current photography faculty members***

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **National Center for Education Statistics, ***Schools' websites.

Winner: Temple University

  • The MFA program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design
  • MFA students can study abroad in Rome for one semester or one year
  • Temple offers students study abroad scholarships

Temple's BFA photography program has a number required classes, including those in digital photography, view cameras, and photo processing, as well as workshops and seminars in photography. Electives allow students to pursue courses in photographic lighting and contemporary photography as well complete internships.

MFA photography students gain knowledge of historical photographic processes and newer photography technologies through studio classes, seminars, exhibitions, and interaction with the art community. Over half of the required credits are projects and seminars. Students need to defend their thesis exhibition, which includes a portfolio in slide or CD format, as well as an essay on their photography philosophy. Graduates may pursue employment as curators, educators, researchers, or critics; there is also the option to work as professional photographers.

Runner-Up #1: Drexel University

  • 3rd among U.S. News & World Report's 2012 list of 'Up-and-Coming Schools' nationwide
  • The photography program has about 60 professional partners that offer cooperative education opportunities to students
  • The photography program hosts visiting professional photographers
  • Four labs have state-of-the-art cameras, studio equipment, and digital and darkroom equipment available for student use

Drexel's Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design offers 16 undergraduate programs and five graduate programs, including a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Photography. The B.S. program includes courses in digital, studio, color, and black-and-white photography; photography and art history; drawing; and photojournalism. Electives include landscape photography, photography business practices, and portfolio development. Over the program's final three terms, students complete a senior thesis. At least one 6-month co-op is also required, though students may complete up to three co-op education experiences in areas like fashion, wedding, sports, or fine arts photography.

Upon admittance to the program, students only need bring a 35mm camera with a manual setting. The school has equipment available, like large format cameras and SLR digital cameras. Facilities on campus for photography students include basic and advanced photo labs, digital scanners and a darkroom. Upon graduation, possible employment opportunities in areas such as fine arts photography, photographic archiving, and digital imaging.

Runner-Up #2: The University of the Arts

  • UArts has two darkrooms and digital imaging labs
  • Successful alumni include National Geographic's longtime senior photo editor
  • The campus features photo exhibitions by renowned photographers.

Since the 19th century, UArts has offered education in design and the visual and performing arts. Through its College of Arts, Media, & Design, UArts offers a BFA degree program in photography. The photography curriculum includes color concepts, studio photography, digital photography workshops, and critical and contemporary issues in photography. A junior project and senior workshop round out the requirements.

Also offered are two relevant minors, including a minor in photography that teaches the basics of black-and-white photography, color photography, and digital imaging. The studio photography minor provides technical training in camera formats from 35mm to 4x5 studio view.

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