Photography Classes in Virginia with College Overviews

Jul 31, 2019

Research photography programs in Virginia, which currently has more than 10 schools offering programs. Read an overview of courses, tuition info and program options for 10 of these schools and decide which program is right for you.

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Essential Information

Students seeking photography classes in Virginia have several options in the state, including certificate, associate's, bachelor's, and/or graduate degree programs. There are majors specifically in photography, but other areas of study include visual art, studio art and fine arts. Most of the studio art programs have a specialization in photography. A portfolio review is common in the admissions process of a photography-related program. Profiled below are 10 public colleges and universities that offer photography programs.


George Mason University

George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and all of them feature concentrations in photography. BA photography students complete coursework in traditional photography, photographic history, and critical theory of photography. Students in the BFA program take classes that cover digital printing, documentary photography, and studio lighting. In addition, BFA students partake in a visiting critics series during their senior year.

Undergraduate students can also earn a photography minor by taking a variety of studio classes emphasizing digital, traditional, and experimental photography. GMU's MFA program in photography comprises study in areas such as personal voice, artistic critique, and directed photography practice. MFA candidates create a body of work that is evaluated via faculty review both halfway through and at the end of the final semester.

James Madison University

Harrisonburg-based James Madison University (JMU) awards both BFAs and MFAs in studio art with a photography emphasis. In the BFA program, students complete mandatory courses in design and aesthetics. A minimum number of photography courses on topics like black-and-white experimental photography and portfolio development are also required. JMU's graduate photography program encompasses study in contemporary artistic theory and art history, as well as open electives and photography studio courses. MFA students must also complete an exhibition of their work.

John Tyler Community College

John Tyler Community College's associate degree program in visual arts is available at its Chester campus. The program allows for a specialization in photography that includes classes in digital photography and photography history. Students also choose from elective options that cover topics like wildlife photography, electronic darkroom, large-format photography, and photojournalism.

Lord Fairfax Community College

Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) in Middletown has a student population of over 7,000. LFCC students can earn a career studies certificate in fine arts with a focus in nature and outdoor photography. This 34-credit program requires art classes in subjects such as drawing, painting, and wildlife and nature photography.

Northern Virginia Community College

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) in Annandale offer photography-focused programs. Students can pursue an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Photography and Media or an Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) in Fine Arts with an emphasis in photography. In the photography and media AAS program, students complete mandatory courses in digital imaging, photographic history, and video.

The AAA in Fine Arts photography track incorporates study of camera techniques, design fundamentals, and art history, and students in either program can select photography electives like color photography, studio lighting, digital film editing, and photographic processing.

Radford University

Located in Radford, this university offers both bachelor's and master's degree studio art programs with photography specializations. In the BFA program, students can choose courses that provide instruction in digital photography and 2-D photography. BFA students also complete classes in 2-D and 3-D art.

The MFA studio art curriculum includes study in critical art writing and studio management, as well as multiple special topics in the medium of emphasis. MFA candidates also undergo a final oral exam and compose a written thesis to accompany original work that serves as their final exhibition project.

Thomas Nelson Community College

Photography classes are available at Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) in Hampton. The school's AAS in Photography program comprises classes in large-format photography, studio lighting, and graphic design. In addition, students can choose an emphasis in visual communications, which encompasses further courses in communication design, computerized graphic design, and typography. TNCC also houses an AAA in Fine Arts program that includes courses in photography.

Tidewater Community College

Tidewater Community College (TCC) in Norfolk confers an AAA in Studio Arts with a concentration in photographic media arts. The studio arts curriculum requires study in art history and design, while the photography track includes courses in electronic darkroom and studio lighting. Students must prepare a resume and a portfolio. The Visual Arts Center at TCC has numerous technologically-based studios, a 2,000-square-foot exhibition area, and several computer labs equipped for video and photo use.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville confers a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art with a specialization in photography. Students pursuing the photography track study subjects including black-and-white photographic processes and digital printing techniques. Photography students also have the opportunity to participate in a summer study-abroad program in Italy, during which they earn academic credit.

To complete the photography program, students must develop a thesis project comprised of a resume, a professional portfolio of work, and a written artistic statement. UVA offers a fellowship program that allows art students aspiring to graduate study to remain at the university for a fifth year and undergo intensive medium-specific instruction.

Virginia Commonwealth University

At Richmond-based Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), students can earn both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts with an emphasis in photography and film. Undergraduate photography and film students choose a minimum number of courses from among subjects like design photography, view camera techniques, studio photography, location photography, and professional practices. The curriculum also mandates the completion of classes in art history, as well as a final senior portfolio.

The graduate photography and film program encompasses coursework in photography research. To graduate, MFA candidates must develop a final exhibition of original work. VCU photography students have access to studios, a darkroom, and a digital photography laboratory on campus, as well as lending privileges for photographic equipment such as tripods and large-format cameras.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Photography Programs Offered Graduate & Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
George Mason University 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Arts in Art and Visual Technology - Photography,
Bachelor of Fine Arts - Photography,
Minor in Photography,
Master of Fine Arts - Photography
$12,462 in-state undergraduate;
$35,922 out-of-state undergraduate;
$15,138 in-state graduate;
$35,724 out-of-state graduate*
James Madison University 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art - Photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art - Photography
$12,016 in-state graduate;
$28,416 out-of-state graduate;
$11,640 in-state graduate;
$28,958 out-of-state graduate*
John Tyler Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate of Applied Arts in Visual Arts - Photography $4,800 in-state undergraduate;
$10,728 out-of-state undergraduate*
Lord Fairfax Community College 2-year, public; rural fringe Career Studies Certificate in Fine Arts - Nature and Outdoor Photography $4,739 in-state undergraduate;
$10,667 undergraduate out-of-state*
Northern Virginia Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate of Applied Science in Photography and Media,
Associate of Applied Arts in Fine Arts - Photography
$5,610 in-state undergraduate;
$11,618 out-of-state undergraduate*
Radford University 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art - Photography,
Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art - Photography
$11,210 in-state undergraduate;
$23,292 out-of-state undergraduate;
$12,203 in-state graduate;
$20,729 out-of-state graduate*
Thomas Nelson Community College 2-year, public; midsize city Associate of Applied Science in Photography,
Associate of Applied Arts in Fine Arts
$4,806 in-state undergraduate;
$10,734 out-of-state undergraduate*
Tidewater Community College 2-year, public; midsize city Associate of Applied Arts in Studio Arts - Photographic Media Arts $5,561 in-state undergraduate;
$11,489 out-of-state undergraduate*
University of Virginia 4-year, public; small suburb Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art $17,653 in-state undergraduate;
$49,032 out-of-state undergraduate
$18,848 in-state graduate
$29,660 out-of-state graduate*
Virginia Commonwealth University 4-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and Film,
Master of Fine Arts in Fine Arts - Photography and Film
$14,493 in-state undergraduate;
$35,834 out-of-state undergraduate;
$14,496 in-state graduate;
$27,311 out-of-state graduate*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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