Top School in Austin for Becoming a Professional Photographer

School and Ranking Information

There are only three non-profit schools within a 50-mile radius of Austin that feature photography programs. These schools are ranked below, based on their proximity to the city, graduation rates and program offerings.

  • Winner: The Austin Community College District, located right in Austin, offers a variety of photographic technology associate's degree programs.
  • Runner-Up #1: St. Edward's University, also located in Austin, features a senior seminar for photocommunications students, and it also has the highest graduation rate of all three schools profiled. It offers bachelor's degrees.
  • Runner-Up #2: Texas State University allows photography students to participate in thesis classes. It offers bachelor's degree programs but is the furthest away from Austin, at about 20 miles out.

School Comparison Chart

Categories Austin Community College District St. Edward's University Texas State University
Location Austin, TX Austin, TX San Marcos, TX (roughly 20 miles from Austin)
School Type 2-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, public
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $2,340 (in-district),
$7,200 (in-state),
$9,720 (out-of-state)*
$31,110* $7,732 (in-state),
$16,855 (out-of-state)*
Photography Degree Levels Offered Associate's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Photography Degrees Awarded (all levels) in 2011-2012 21 (7 undergraduate certificates were awarded for photographic and film/video technology/technician and assistant)* 21* 0*
Most Popular Photography Degree Level in 2011-2012 Associate's (16 awarded)* Bachelor's (21 awarded)* N/A
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class 4% (2008 entering class)* 68%* 56%*
Noteworthy Photographic artist certificate program prepares students for employment Photography program features a required internship Photography program features a variety of concentrations

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Winner: Austin Community College District

  • Each photography associate's degree program features a portfolio development course
  • Students can earn a photographic artist certificate

Associate of Applied Science degree programs at the Austin Community College District related to photography include an editorial photography specialization, a photographic artist specialization and a portrait-wedding specialization. Various career opportunities include photographer's assistant, studio manager, photographic retoucher and print finisher. Courses in the editorial photography program include the history of photography, advanced imaging lab, expressive photography and location portraiture. Portrait-wedding students learn about business writing, accounting and studio management. It's recommended that students earning a certificate possess creative ability, artistic sense, good color perception and good hand-eye coordination.

Runner-Up #1: St. Edward's University

  • Photocommunications students can participate in the student newspaper and the student-run academic journal
  • The photography program is the only one in the state to have student work exhibited at the * School partners with local museums, photo studios and magazines to offer internships to photography students
  • Graduates of bachelor's degree program participate in a senior exhibition

While earning their Bachelor of Arts in Photocommunications degree, students study digital color, digital imaging, the digital darkroom and large cameras. The program also includes a capstone course. Past internship sites include Texas Parks & Wildlife, the Austin Children's Museum, The Humanities Research Center and area television stations. Graduating students have the opportunity to showcase their work in the Photocommunications Senior Exhibition.

Runner-Up #2: Texas State University

  • Art and Design Resource Center with several benefits to photography students
  • Offers scholarships through the School of Art and Design
  • Photography students can join the Photography Association.
  • Students interact with visiting artists, and undergrads have work exhibited in museum-quality galleries

At the end of the undergraduate thesis classes at Texas State University, students participate in an exhibition. Students will also be taught how to utilize digital practices in chemical-based methods. Courses include studio photography, advanced digital photography, fine art photography special problems and alternative photographic and digital practices.

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