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Digital Photography Colleges in Illinois with Degree Descriptions

Research digital photography programs in Illinois, which currently has 21 colleges and universities offering programs. Read an overview of degree programs and certificates, tuition info and program options for ten of the largest schools and decide which program is right for you.

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Essential Information

Individuals interested in digital photography training in Illinois may find programs at the certificate, undergraduate, and graduate degree levels. Photography programs typically include courses in both film and digital photography. Programs are available at community colleges, colleges and universities. Some programs award degrees in photography, while others offer a photography concentration within a broader major. Undergraduate programs facilitate the development of a portfolio, which may be used by students to gain admission to a graduate program or employment.

Below are ten of the largest public or private not-for-profit schools offering photography programs in Illinois.


Bradley University

Located in Peoria, Bradley University offers photography concentrations in bachelor's and master's degree programs. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art program provides a concentration that focuses on the aesthetic and practical areas of photography, culminating in a senior exhibition. Students learn about black and white photography, color photography and traditional darkroom techniques. They also learn how to take, edit and process digital images. The university's Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art offers a photography option, which allows students to build professional and artistic skills through advanced interdisciplinary arts and technical skill development.

Columbia College - Chicago

Columbia College - Chicago, located in Chicago, offers two bachelor's degree programs and a master's degree program in photography. The 42-hour Bachelor of Arts in Photography program is a liberal arts-based program that offers special concentrations in fashion, fine art, photojournalism and commercial photography.

The college also offers a bachelor's degree program in photography for individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree but would like to earn one in photography. The Master of Fine Arts in Photography degree program focuses on advanced conceptual and aesthetic training.

College of DuPage

Located in Glen Ellyn, the College of DuPage offers certificate and associate's degree programs in photography. The 2-year degree program provides students with the fundamental knowledge and skills to work as photographers. This 64-credit program teaches students the basics of digital photography and advanced digital imaging.

In addition to a course in digital photography techniques, students may take courses in studio photography, color photography and photojournalism. The 46-credit certificate program prepares students for entry-level employment in the photography industry. Students in both programs have access to state-of-the-art darkrooms, studios, camera equipment and a computer lab for digital imaging.

Dominican University

Dominican University in River Forest offers a Bachelor of Arts in Photography degree program that trains students to use photographic images for individual expression and as a stimulus to critical thought. This 124-credit-hour program examines photography applied in video, digital imagery and cinema. Courses include black and white photography, video production and lighting.

Lewis and Clark Community College

Located in Godfrey, Lewis and Clark College offers a certificate in photography. This 15-credit- hour program includes beginning and advanced courses in photography and digital photography. Students learn how to edit digital images through training with the Adobe Photoshop program.

Parkland College

Parkland College in Champaign offers a 2-year degree program in communication with an emphasis in photography that prepares students for entry-level jobs within the photography industry. This 60-semester-hour program covers fundamental areas, such as digital photography, studio photography, the history of photography and the business side of the industry. Additional coursework includes color photography and advanced digital photography.

Prairie State College

Prairie State College in Chicago Heights offers certificate and associate's degree programs in photography. Designed for transfer to a 4-year school, the 62-credit Associate of Arts in Photography degree program helps students build fundamental technical skills and competency that can be used to form a photographic portfolio. Coursework includes subjects such as 2-dimensional design, digital darkroom techniques, basic lighting skills, digital camera skills and digital color production.

The Associate of Applied Science in Photography degree program focuses more on the commercial applications of photography, with options to specialize in print or studio production. The college also offers a certificate in photography for students interested in learning fundamental technical and visual skills in the field, as well as a portrait photography certificate program.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Located in Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in photography. The Bachelor of Fine Arts program is an interdisciplinary arts program that encourages students to explore photography through aesthetic, cultural and social perspectives. The program is designed to help students gain the skills needed to expand their creativity as well as to solve technical problems related to photography. Individuals interested in the university's 64-hour Master of Fine Arts in Photography program must demonstrate an advanced level of competence in photography. Admissions requirements include a portfolio of 12 images that demonstrate applicants' technical and conceptual skills.

University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign in Champaign offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography program through its School of Art and Design. This 122-credit program teaches students to use photography for personal expression and career opportunities. Students gain a strong foundation in the visual arts, including the theory, history and practice of photography. Subjects covered include digital photography, studio lighting, black and white printing, video, the history of photography and installation art.

The university also offers a 64-credit-hour Master of Fine Arts in Art and Design with a concentration in photography. Both programs provide state-of-the-art photographic facilities and equipment for students.

Waubonsee Community College

Located in Sugar Grove, Waubonsee Community College offers two certificate programs in photography. The basic digital photography certificate is for individuals seeking advanced photographic skills in digital photography. Students in this 12-credit program learn to edit and prepare digital images for online use through studies in image-editing software. The college's comprehensive photography certificate program enables students to build professional portfolios using both digital and traditional photography. Waubonsee provides both traditional and digital photography labs.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Photography Certificates and Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Bradley University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; midsize city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a media discipline in photography,
Master of Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in Photography
$31,480*
Columbia College - Chicago 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Photography,
2nd Bachelor of Arts in Photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Photography
$24,344*
College of DuPage 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate in Photography Technology,
Associate of Applied Science in Photography
$5,275 (in-district); $10,885 (in-state); $12,985 (out-of-state)*
Dominican University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Arts in Photography $30,670*
Lewis and Clark Community College 2-year, public; fringe rural Certificate of Completion in Photography $3,072 (in-district); $8,256 (in-state); $10,848 (out-of-state)*
Parkland College 2-year, public; small city Associate of Applied Science in Communication with a concentration in photography $3,945 (in-district); $9,555 (in-state); $14,355 (out-of-state)*
Prairie State College 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate in Photography,
Certificate in Portrait Photography,
Associate of Arts in Photography,
Associate of Applied Science in Photographic Studies
$3,432 (in-district); $7,800 (in-state); $9,240 (out-of-state)*
University of Illinois at Chicago 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Photography
$13,664 (in-state); $26,520 (out-of-state)*
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Art & Design with a concentration in photography
$15,054 (in-state); $30,214 (out-of-state)*
Waubonsee Community College 2-year, public; rural, fringe Certificate in Basic Digital Photography,
Certificate in Comprehensive Photography
$2,832 (in-district); $7,002 (in-state); $7,587 (out-of-state)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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