Orange County, located between Los Angeles and San Diego, has about 10 schools offering courses and programs in digital photography. These courses are typically offered in a school's art department, and there are a variety of choices for currently employed professional photographers, as well as students with little experience in this field. For people seeking 1 or 2 years of training for a career related to photography, there are certificate and associate degree programs available within the community college system in Orange County, as well as bachelor's photography programs offered at some of the 4-year schools in this region.
Read about 10 of the largest schools in Orange County that offer digital photography courses and programs, and weigh the details in the school comparison table.
California State University - Fullerton
At its Fullerton campus, California State University enrolls more than 36,000 students each year and provides 4 options for students who want to focus their course of study in photography. Within the Department of Visual Arts, the 132-unit Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), 30-unit Master of Arts in Art, and 60-unit Master of Fine Arts in Art (M.F.A.) all offer the option to concentrate in creative photography. Additionally, within the general studio art major in the 120-unit Bachelor of Arts in Art program, there is also the choice to study photography. Courses for students interested in digital photography include photo visual concepts, creative photography, the digital studio, seminar in creative photography, and graduate topics in creative photography. Standard film and digital processes are included, and some classes offer field trips.
The city of Orange is home to Chapman University, where more than 7,000 students are pursuing bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees. Undergraduate art students at Chapman can choose to focus in 4D, 3D or 2D. Students in the B.F.A. program will be exposed to the history, theory, and technical aspects of their chosen medium and will be expected to produce original work, as well as analyze peers' work. Students interested in digital photography courses can complete the 2D concentration with courses in photographic imaging, digital imaging, objects and space, and interdisciplinary art production.
Cypress College is situated northeast of Long Beach in Cypress, and it enrolls nearly 15,500 students. The photography department at Cypress College offers a photography curriculum that aims to provide students with opportunities for creative exploration and exposure to practical job skills. Students seeking transfer to 4-year schools, or those pursuing personal enrichment, can enroll in courses like wedding and event photography, photo graphics, conceptual photography, and digital photography. Enrollees in these and other photo department offerings can make use of the studios, digital imaging labs, and darkrooms on campus. The Associate in Arts in Photography program requires the completion of general education coursework and photography classes, like photography, digital photography, and digital capture workflow. Additionally, among 10 certificate program options in the photography department are the digital photography certificate, digital photo technician certificate, and multimedia digital certificate.
This Fullerton school serves nearly 19,000 students in its certificate and associate degree programs. For students hoping to obtain training in digital photography, there are 2 options in the technology and engineering division at Fullerton College. The Associate in Arts in Photography and the professional photography certificate both offer students an opportunity to study standard and digital process photography. These programs also cover portrait and event photography. Students in these programs are introduced to the history of photography and may be able to earn up to 4 units in a photography internship. The computer graphics degree program at Fullerton College also requires at least 1 digital photography course.
Golden West College
More than 13,500 students head to Huntington Beach for classes at Golden West College. Among the associate degree and certificate program offerings available is an option for budding photographers. The associate degree program in fine arts includes courses in photography, and it aims to provide students with the skills to enter the workforce as a commercial photographer or move on to a 4-year degree program in studio arts.
The fine arts department serves about 1,500 students each semester, and it provides its photography students access to a fully equipped darkroom and digital printing equipment. Opportunities to display finished work are available near the photo labs and classrooms and in the student gallery space on campus. Courses like the creative photographer, digital photography, and special problems in photography are offered.
Irvine Valley College (IVC)
In Irvine, this school serves close to 13,250 students and offers certificate and associate degree programs. The photography department at IVC offers the Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Photography. Photography students have a chance to explore digital photography, as well as traditional film photography, but general education requirements must also be completed to earn the A.A. Courses cover darkroom techniques, lighting, and composition, and the program emphasizes creative expression. The school also offers a certificate in digital photography.
Orange Coast College
Orange Coast College (OCC) in Costa Mesa offers certificates and associate degrees and enrolls about 22,600 students. Within the School of Photography, students can find an 18-credit digital photography technician and 42-credit photography - still certificate. The digital technician certificate is offered for students seeking a short-term program that provides training for entry-level careers like photographer's assistant, and the still photography program provides an interdisciplinary course of study. Opportunities for training in digital photography, Photoshop, commercial photo, business practices for photographers, and professional digital techniques exist at OCC for students, as well as professional photographers hoping to update their technical skills. In addition to the certificate programs, students can complete an associate degree in digital photography - still.
Saddleback College in Mission Viejo serves nearly 22,600 students, and it offers more than 150 certificate and associate degree programs. For photography students, there is an Associate in Arts in Photography program. Along with general education requirements, students explore the history of photography, as well as standard film and digital photography. Classes in portraiture, Photoshop, and digital imaging are also offered. The program requires the completion of 21 units in major-specific coursework, as well as an additional 39 units earned in general education requirements and electives. As of 2010, all the photography classes are completely digital, and the photography department has Mac computers, up-to-date software, and large format printers.
Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC) takes its name from the large city where it's located - Santa Ana. More than 30,000 students are enrolled in certificate and associate degree programs at this school. The photography programs at SAC provide opportunities for students to explore the medium and gain a foundation in photographic processes. The degree program is offered for students hoping to pursue a bachelor's degree in art or photography and requires the completion of 37-39 units, whereas the certificate of achievement program requires the completion of 22-24 units. Classes include introduction to digital photography, intermediate digital photography, portrait photography, wedding and quinceanera photography, and photo graphics.
University of California - Irvine
The Irvine campus of the University of California (UC) serves more than 27,000 students, and it offers bachelor's and advanced degree programs. For photography students seeking a bachelor's or M.F.A. program in photography, UC Irvine might provide an appropriate mix of practical and theoretical training. Courses like the constructed image, the photographic tableau, and documentary photography are available to undergraduate art students. Graduate students are encouraged to explore career development and the advanced practice of their craft through a series of graduate seminars, studio workshops, and group critiques. The 18 full-time faculty members in the studio art department at UC Irvine include practicing artists with experience in robotic sculpture, game design, digital photography, painting, feminist theory, social change, and electronic media. Additionally, students have access to photo labs, darkrooms, and photographic equipment.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Location||Digital Photography Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*|
|California State University - Fullerton||4-year, public; midsize city|| Bachelor of Arts in Art: Studio Arts,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art: Creative Photography,
Master of Arts in Art: Creative Photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Art: Creative Photography
| $6,886 in-state
|Chapman University||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city||Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art||$52,724|
|Cypress College||2-year, public; large suburb|| Digital Photography Certificate,
Digital Photo Technician Certificate,
Associate in Arts in Photography
| $1,142 in-district
|Fullerton College||2-year, public; midsize city|| Professional Photography Certificate,
Associate in Arts in Photography
| $1,138 in-state
|Golden West College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Arts in Studio Arts|| $1,178 in-state
|Irvine Valley College||2-year, public; midsize city|| Certificate in Digital Photography,
Associate of Arts in Photography
| $1,142 in-state
|Orange Coast College||2-year, public; midsize city|| Certificate of Achievement in Digital Technician,
Certificate of Achievement in Photography - Still,
Associate of Arts in Photography - Still
| $1,186 in-state
|Saddleback College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Arts in Photography|| $1,328 in-state
|Santa Ana College||2-year, public; large city|| Certificate of Achievement in Photography,
Associate of Art in Photography
| $1,160 in-state
|University of California - Irvine||4-year, public; rural: fringe|| Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art,
Master of Fine Arts in Art
| $13,700 in-state
Source: *NCES College Navigator