Digital Photography Degree Programs in NY with Class Descriptions

New York State has 14 colleges that offer digital photography degree programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for the ten largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

Students can pursue studies in digital photography at several New York State colleges and universities. Many New York schools offer Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) programs in photography, which train students in the use of both film and digital cameras. Students interested in advanced studies can pursue Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) programs at some schools. Undergraduate programs may assist students in developing a portfolio of work and/or providing exhibition opportunities. Admission to upper-level programs may require applicants to provide such a portfolio.

Outlined below are the ten largest colleges offering photography degree programs with digital photography course content followed by a table that provides a quick look at program locations, types and costs.


Buffalo State University SUNY

Part of the State University of New York system, Buffalo State University is about five miles from downtown Buffalo. Through its Fine Arts Department, student can pursue a B.F.A. in Photography through a program that emphasizes the art of photography. Admission requirements to this program include an interview and portfolio review. Students begin to study and practice digital photography in the intermediate photography course, which also introduces students to large-format inkjet printing.

The advanced photography course also provides opportunities to build skills in digital photography and related software programs. A concurrent internship is recommended in this course. A senior-year studio course in photography is geared toward preparing work for the culminating individual exhibition. Facilities and resources include a photography lab for digital and large-format photography, visiting artist lectures and a variety of on-campus galleries.

Fashion Institute of Technology

Also part of the SUNY system, Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City offers Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) programs in photography through the School of Art and Design. These programs train students in analog and digital photography. Basic topics covered in the A.A.S. program include making traditional black and white prints, digital manipulation and image processing, color theory and portfolio development.

The B.F.A. in Photography and the Digital Image program is intensive and multidisciplinary. The program includes an internship and the option to participate in a study-abroad program in Italy. Digital photography courses include digital photography for exhibition, photojournalism, digital darkroom, Photoshop and digital media technology, as well as courses that apply digital photography to interior design, packaging and accessories. The School of Continuing and Professional Studies also offers a certificate program in digital still photography.

Long Island University

Long Island University in Brookville offers photography programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The B.F.A. program approaches photography from critical, technical and historical perspectives. Specific courses include color photography, photojournalism, studio lighting and experimental techniques. In digital imaging courses, students use imaging software to experiment with a variety of effects. Among the facilities and resources photography students can use at Long Island University are flatbed and negative scanners, a digital lab with Mac computers and digital imaging software, a studio with lighting equipment and various printers.

The School of Visual and Performing Arts also offers an M.F.A. in Fine Arts and Design program with a concentration in photography. M.F.A. candidates produce a body of work to exhibit as a thesis after submitting a written thesis proposal. Courses include art criticism and history in addition to numerous studio courses.

The New School

The New School in New York City also offers B.F.A. and M.F.A. programs in photography through its Parsons The New School for Design division. In the B.F.A. program in photography, students choose a track in fashion, fine arts, commercial or editorial photography. Students take courses in design, drawing and painting in addition to photography courses, which train students in both analog and digital photography. Topics covered in photography courses include the digital print, lighting, techniques for image control and the self-portrait. Real-world experience is gained in this program through an internship.

The New School also offers a 26-month Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degree program in photography, which is designed for students with undergraduate or graduate degrees in photography-related disciplines or for those with extensive experience in the field. The group critique process is stressed in this program. Coursework introduces students to advanced theoretical and historical perspectives in addition to studio-based courses. The program culminates with a thesis exhibition.

New York University

New York University in New York City offers a B.F.A. program in photography and imaging through its Tisch School of the Arts. The faculty members have backgrounds in art, commercial, design and documentary photography as well as criticism and history. The program provides training in analog and digital photography.

The curriculum consists of studio-based courses, like photography and digital imaging, and critical studies, like the social history of photography. A non-credit 8-course certificate program in digital imaging and photography, offered through the Center for Advanced Digital Applications in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, introduces students to the basic technology and skills involved in digital capture and image manipulation.

Rochester Institute of Technology

Located in Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology has several options in photography degree programs. The B.F.A. in Photographic and Imaging Arts program offers concentrations in advertising photography, fine art photography, photojournalism and visual media. Students in each of these concentrations are required to acquire a digital SLR camera and professional-quality light meter. All first-year students take courses in photographic art and technology as well as art history and introductory drawing courses.

Students who would like to combine their interests in digital photography and science may consider pursuing the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Photographic Sciences with an option in Imaging and Photographic Technology. Students in this major can pursue concentrations in imaging and photographic technology or biomedical photographic communications. The latter program includes courses in scientific photography as well as a 3-month paid co-op education experience in a research or medical facility. Students pursuing the imaging and photographic technology concentration delve more into optics and instrumentation. In addition to digital photography courses, students in this option take programming and technical courses.

The M.F.A. in Imaging Arts program interprets photography broadly and conceptually. Students take courses in the historical, critical and aesthetic dimensions of the field as well as studio courses. Electives include bookmaking, advertising photography, archival preservation and multimedia. Students need to submit a portfolio for admission and complete the program with a thesis exhibition. The school offers various exhibitions, lectures, seminars, field trips, internships and organizations related to photography and culture.

St. John's University - New York

Located in Queens, St. John's University is a private, Catholic university that provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs to over 21,000 students. Through the Department of Fine Arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, students can pursue a B.F.A. in Photography. The department has both digital labs and darkrooms for learning digital capture, printing black and white images, film processing and digital output.

Students also learn a variety of lighting techniques and how to create images using medium- and large-format cameras. Though students primarily use 35 mm SLR cameras in introductory and intermediate photography courses, a course in digital photography is also available that trains students in the uses of Adobe Photoshop. The program culminates with a 9-credit creative thesis.

State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia

SUNY at Fredonia has a B.F.A. in Photography program, which encourages experimentation and interdisciplinary work. Students complete 21 credit hours of foundation courses, which are designed to develop visual literacy, before taking advanced courses in their areas of concentration. The concentration coursework in photography covers areas like black and white photography, lighting, printing, color photography and a senior capstone experience.

State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz

The New Paltz campus of the State University of New York offers undergraduate programs in photography. As freshmen, students can enroll in the B.S. in Visual Arts program with a concentration in photography. During the first year of this program, students may study digital, large-format and digital color photography. Additional courses include digital video and creating photographic books.

Students can apply to the B.F.A. in Photography program after completing foundation courses as well as basic and intermediate photography courses. A portfolio is required. B.F.A. students also need to apply for the senior studio courses, submitting a written proposal and examples of their work. The program culminates in an on-campus exhibit at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.

Syracuse University

Located in the city of Syracuse, this private university offers photography programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels through its Department of Transmedia in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The B.F.A. in Art Photography program is designed to provide students with the critical, creative and technical skills needed for careers in the magazine and fashion industries, photo studios, museums and galleries. The art photography courses help students develop skills in both analog and digital photography. In addition to general courses in art photography and digital imaging, students may take courses that explore lighting techniques, the work of contemporary photographers and the camera in performance art.

The Department of Transmedia also offers an M.F.A. in Art Photography. Students use the group critique process to advance in their development as photographers in intensive studio coursework. Graduate students also take advanced courses in the theory and criticism of photography. Graduate students have access to private studios. Digital and analog photography facilities include large-format inkjet printers, scanners and lighting equipment.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Digital Photography Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Buffalo State SUNY 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography $7,669 in-state,
$17,519 out-of-state*
Fashion Institute of Technology 4-year (primarily associate's), public; large city Associate of Applied Science in Photography and Related Media,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and the Digital Image
$5,230 in-state,
$14,230 out-of-state*
Long Island University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Fine Arts and Design with a concentration in photography
$35,546*
The New School 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Photography
$43,813*
New York University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and Imaging $47,750*
Rochester Institute of Technology 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photographic and Imaging Arts,
Bachelor of Science in Photographic Sciences, option in Imaging and Photographic Technology,
Master of Fine Arts in Imaging Arts
$37,124*
St. John's University - New York 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography $38,680*
State University of New York at Fredonia 4-year, public; distant town Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography $8,074 in-state;
$17,924 out-of-state*
State University of New York at New Paltz 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Visual Arts,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography
$7,737 in-state,
$17,587 out-of-state*
Syracuse University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; midsize city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Art Photography
$43,318*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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