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Schools with Camera Operation Degrees and Courses: How to Choose

The camera is central to many degree programs, including programs in photography and electronic media. Students learn how to use cameras (either still or video) to produce digital and color photography, portraits and documentary film, among other types of visual media.

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Students interested in photography as a profession can choose from associate's or bachelor's degrees from the fine arts and photography departments at both 2-year and 4-year colleges. An electronic media, film production or communications program is another option for students interested in camera operation; these are most commonly offered at the associate degree level through production, film or communications departments.

Schools with Camera Operation Degrees

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer photography or related programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*
New York Film Academy Burbank, CA 4-year, Private Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's $28,000
New England School of Photography Boston, MA 2-year, Private Certificate $24,200
Villa Maria College Buffalo, NY 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's $20,260
Marlboro College Marlboro, VT 4-year, Private Bachelor's $39,250
El Camino Community College District Torrance, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $1,142; Out-of-state $5,678
Los Angeles City College Los Angeles, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $1,220; Out-of-state $6,810
University of Hawaii-Leeward Community College Pearl City, HI 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $2,935; Out-of-state $7,927
Bronx Community College Bronx, NY 2-year, Public Associate's In-state $5,206; Out-of-state $8,086

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

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School Selection Criteria

There are several factors that should be considered when selecting a program in camera operation.

  • An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) program permits students to take more practical courses in photography and fulfill fewer liberal arts requirements than an A.A. or A.S. program; Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts programs offer more classes discussing photography's history and cultural implications.
  • Students should consider photography program specializations such as architecture, landscape, or nature photography.
  • Programs may offer internships, where students work for agencies or shadow employed photographers and develop a portfolio that can represent their work to a potential employer. Film students should look for programs that allow them to shoot a completed film for a final project or work on the set of a television show.
  • Students have the option of earning a certificate in electronic media production, which requires fewer courses than an associate's degree and usually takes only one year.

Associate's Degree in Photography

These programs fast-track students through different aspects of photography, preparing them to build portfolios and make industry contacts. Students spend most of their time in classes directly related to taking photographs, but may also study relevant art topics.

Bachelor's Degree in Photography

In a 4-year program, students supplement interactive critique sessions and internships with classes on specific types of photography. Graduates of a bachelor's degree program often go on to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Photography.

Associate's Degree in Film Production

Students in this program learn conventions of film and theater firsthand. Often, they practice hands-on camera operation by shooting their own films or working in a movie studio during the two years of these programs.

Associate's Degree in Television Production

Students focus their camera knowledge on shooting and editing for television. Broadcast production and studio TV production are emphasized in the coursework. Students may work as interns for different TV stations in preparation for a career in TV and electronic media. In addition to training in camera operation, students learn to manipulate the film they produce through the use of effects and graphics.

Camera operation can refer to photography for still photos or video cameras for film/television production. Students should carefully consider their career goals and artistic preferences prior to enrolling in a degree program and choosing a specialization.

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