The most common option for students who want to pursue a graduate degree in photography is the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Although most photography MFA programs require students to hold a bachelor's degree in an arts-related subject, some programs accept students with a bachelor's degree in other fields. An MFA in photography can prepare a student to utilize photography in a variety of careers, including photojournalism, fashion photography, and commercial photography.
Most photography graduate programs can be completed in less than two years, and many allow students to concentrate in a particular area, such as commercial or fashion photography. Studies typically combine classroom instruction with lab or studio courses allowing hands-on training experiences. Programs often culminate in a thesis or final project.
Master of Fine Arts Degree in Photography
A MFA in photography combines theoretical coursework and hands-on photography labs, with the bulk of coursework in practical studio arts courses. Students without a photography background may be asked to complete certain basic art or photography courses, including art history or digital photography, before enrolling.
Photography graduate program applicants submit samples of their photography portfolio during the application process. Programs may offer opportunities for students to concentrate on different areas of photography. Classes in an MFA in Photography degree program are generally taught in seminar form and may cover the following topics:
- Advanced composition techniques
- History of photography criticism
- Photography and popular culture
- Fashion and advertising photography
- Fine art photography
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a Master of Fine Arts in Photography degree program are qualified for photography careers in academic, artistic or journalistic settings both as a photographer and teacher. Below is a list of some careers associated with an MFA in photography.
- Scientific photography
- Commercial photography
- Photography education
- Portrait photography
- Photography history
Continuing Education Options
The MFA is a terminal degree in photography and visual arts. Doctoral degrees in arts generally combine photography with other visual arts media, or concentrate on an academic side of art like art history or art education. MFA photography graduates may choose to further specialize by taking additional courses in a field, such as commercial or industrial photography.
Graduate programs in photography may give students the ability to focus on a particular area that they want to specialize in, with general curriculum addressing topics such as composition, the history of photography, and different photographic forms. Graduates may go on to careers in photojournalism, portrait photography, photographic education, and more.