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Digital Photography Schools in Oakland, CA with Degree Summaries

Jan 17, 2019

The Oakland, CA, area has roughly five schools that offer digital photography-related programs. Learn about the degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three schools that are within 20 miles of downtown Oakland and make an informed education decision.

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Oakland, CA, Digital Photography Programs

There are several schools in the Oakland, CA, area for students interested in digital photography. This article examines three schools, none more than 25 minutes from downtown, and the photography programs they offer, available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The programs may not be specifically in digital photography, but include many courses that focus on this medium.

There is a table of important data about each school, such as size, tuition and the graduation rate, arranged in a way that makes it easy to compare them. At the end of the article is a list of several other Oakland-area schools with relevant programs.

  • California College of the Arts, in Oakland, about ten miles from downtown, provides students with several photograph processing and printing resources. It offers a bachelor's degree program in photography.
  • City College of San Francisco, 13 miles from Oakland, has the only digital photography-specific program in the area. It offers certificate programs in alternative photography processes or digital photography and an associate's degree program in photography.
  • Also in San Francisco about 11 miles from downtown Oakland, the San Francisco Art Institute offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in photography.

Comparison of Schools

The following table contains information needed by individuals who are deciding which school to attend.

California College of the Arts City College of San Francisco San Francisco Art Institute
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 2-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 1,927* 26,299* 433*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Tuition and Fees (2017-2018) $47,266* $1,598 in-state; $9,010 out-of state* $44,778*
% of First-Year, Full-Time Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 77%* 59%* 100%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 64%* N/A - Open admissions* 75%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 84% for full-time students* 72% for full-time students; 44% for part-time students* 51% for full-time students; 100% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate 61% (students began studies in Fall 2011)* 32% (11% transfer-out rate) (students began studies in Fall 2014)* 41% (students began studies in Fall 2011)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

California College of the Arts

Photography students can develop skills through in-class, workshop and studio training. It is highly recommended that students participate in an internship to gain professional experience.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography

Major courses in this 120-unit program include black and white photography, digital photography, contemporary photography issues, production techniques, lighting techniques and large-format photography. In addition to completing various studio courses, students must fulfill science and humanities course requirements. Senior photography students also develop and submit a final project.

City College of San Francisco

The City College of San Francisco offers training from 15 full- and part-time instructors and is one of the longest running photography programs in the country. Some units earned through this school's photography programs can be transferred to nearby 4-year institutions.

Certificate of Accomplishment in Alternative Photography Processes

Students can complete this program by earning 15 course units. Required classes include design fundamentals, digital negative printing, photography basics, mixed media and intermediate photography techniques. This program also provides training in black and white photography and darkroom techniques.

Certificate of Accomplishment in Digital Photography

A total of 17 course units are required for program completion. Students can learn about basic photography techniques, design fundamentals, business practices and Web photography. Two courses in this program are dedicated to Adobe Photoshop software.

Associate in Science in Photography

Students can complete this program in two years by earning at least 60 course units. During this program, students encounter topics in color in design, editorial photography, related business practices, portfolio production, Adobe Photoshop, lighting techniques and photographic history. Additional courses include digital negatives, black and white photography, view camera techniques, portraiture and darkroom techniques.

San Francisco Art Institute

Photography programs offered at this school can help students develop their own aesthetic and teach them the fundamentals of both analog and digital photography. Studio courses allow students to take a hands-on approach to their training.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography

Digital photography, photography basics and field-related history are covered in this 120-unit program. Most training comes from photography-centric studio courses. Along with liberal arts classes, students are required to pass courses in art history, contemporary topics and modernism. Before students can graduate, they need to complete a senior review seminar.

Master of Fine Arts in Photography

Photography training is provided through critical studies classes, tutorials, a graduate critique seminar and art history courses. This program also requires students to submit work for intermediate and final reviews. At the end of this program, students participate in a graduate exhibition. Students must earn 60 course units to meet graduation requirements.

Other School Options

Students can also find digital photography-related programs 17 miles away at the College of San Mateo and 24 miles away at Ohlone College in Newark, CA.

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