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Photography Classes in Chicago with Degree Program Information

Dec 10, 2018

There are several schools within 50 miles of Chicago that have photography degree programs. Read an overview of the programs, requirements and admission information at three schools less than 15 miles from downtown, and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Chicago Schools with Photography Degree Programs

This article profiles three schools within 25 minutes of downtown Chicago and the degree programs they offer in photography. There is also a table of information about each school, such as enrollment, tuition and the graduation rate, which could be helpful to individuals who are deciding what their best option is. Following this are a few facts about several other Chicago-area colleges with photography programs.

  • Less than 1.5 miles from the city center, Columbia College - Chicago has two bachelor's and one master's degree program in photography.
  • The University of Illinois at Chicago is about 1.5 miles from downtown. It offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography.
  • Dominican University is ten miles from downtown Chicago. Students there can enroll in a bachelor's degree program in photo-cinema.

Comparison of Schools

Aspiring photography students should look at many factors when choosing a school for their education. Information about each institution is highlighted in the following table.

Columbia College - Chicago University of Illinois at Chicago Dominican University
School Type University; 4-year, private not-for-profit University; 4-year, public University; 4-year, private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 7,312* 30,539* 3,127*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large suburb
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $26,474 (undergraduate)* $16,622 for in-state; $26,862 for out-of-state (graduate)* $32,530*
% of First-Year, Full-Time Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 88%* 84%* 100%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 92%* 77%* 65%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 66% for full-time students; 18% for part-time students* 80% for full-time students; 42% for part-time students* 81% for full-time students*
Graduation Rate (For students who began studies Fall 2011) 44%* 57%* 62%*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

Columbia College - Chicago

Columbia College offers one of the biggest photography programs in the U.S., allowing students to earn photography degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can show off their photography work through the Foundations Photo Lounge.

Bachelor of Arts in Photography

Students who enroll in the Bachelor of Arts in Photography program can choose from one of the following concentrations: general concentration, fashion photography, fine art photography or commercial photography. Throughout the curriculum of this liberal arts-focused program, students develop and create a portfolio of their best works. The school also offers a secondary bachelor's degree option in photography, designed for students who've already acquired a bachelor's degree in another subject.

Master of Fine Arts in Photography

Courses in this graduate program cover public art, history of photography, image and text, fabrication fundamentals, and photographic theory, among other areas. There are also several special topics, study abroad opportunities and studio classes available. At the end of this 3-year master's degree program, students hold a thesis exhibition at an on-campus gallery.

University of Illinois at Chicago

To be accepted into the graduate photography program at UIC, students must submit a portfolio for review.

Master of Fine Arts in Photography

A public exhibition project must be completed to graduate from this 64-semester-hour master's degree program. For archival purposes, students submit a written copy of their final thesis paper along with a project CD or DVD. Once students complete the second semester of the program, they must pass an evaluation to continue their studies.

Dominican University

The photography major is offered through the Department of Art, Art History and Design.

Bachelor of Arts in Photo-Cinema

The core requirements of this program include coursework in color photography, drawing, painting and global art history. The major core offers studies in black and white photography and video production. Students then choose from such electives as digital darkroom techniques, light and camera, motion graphics and special topics in photo-cinema.

Other School Options

The College of DuPage is located about 23 miles from Chicago's downtown area and offers both an Associate of Applied Science program and a certificate program in photography, while Prairie State College is about 26 miles away and features various photography certificates and associate degree programs. Additionally, Waubonsee Community College, situated about 44 miles from downtown Chicago, offers a Certificate of Achievement in Photography.

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