Photography Schools in Los Angeles with Course and Degree Info

The Los Angeles area has several colleges that offer photography programs. Learn about three of these schools, none more than 15 miles from downtown, and their courses, admission info and program requirements to make an informed education decision.

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Los Angeles Schools with Photography Programs

This article examines three schools that are 20 minutes or less from downtown Los Angeles and the photography programs they offer. It also includes a table of information about each school, such as enrollment, tuition, acceptance rate and graduation rate, which could be useful to prospective students.

  • The Art Center College of Design, about 10 miles from Los Angeles in Pasadena, offers a bachelor's degree program in photography and imaging.
  • Nearly eight miles from the city center, East Los Angeles College (ELAC) offers certificate programs in photography and digital imaging, large format photography, and studio lighting and techniques. It also has an associate's degree program in photography.
  • At Santa Monica College (SMC), 15 miles from downtown Los Angeles, students can earn a certificate or an associate's degree in photography.

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Comparison of Schools

The following table can help aspiring photography students decide which school is their best option. It contains important information in a way that allows for easy comparison.

Art Center College of Design East Los Angeles College Santa Monica College
School Type 4-year; private not-for-profit 2-year; public 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2014) 2,045* 36,012* 30,158*
Campus Setting Midsized city Small city Small city
Tuition & Fees (2015-2016) $39,230* $1,220 in-state; $6,810 out-of-state* $1,136 in-state; $8,078 out-of-state*
% of Beginning Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2014) 71%* 70%* 57%*
Acceptance Rate (2014) 81%* N/A - Open admissions* N/A - Open admissions*
Retention Rate (2014) 76% for full-time students* 73% for full-time students; 39% for part-time students* 71% for full-time students; 55% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate 67% (for students beginning studies in Fall 2008)* 30% (for students beginning studies in Fall 2011)* 30% (for students beginning studies in Fall 2011)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Art Center College of Design

The Art Center College of Design is a 4-year, private college located in Pasadena, which is a short distance from downtown Los Angeles. The school offers an undergraduate program in photography and imaging that includes studio coursework and also focuses on the marketing and business aspects of the industry.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and Imaging

This bachelor's degree program takes 8 terms to complete and requires a total of 135 credits. The program includes classes in design and imaging, lighting, lab procedures, color theory and photo production. Students must take 24 credits of coursework in the humanities and design sciences to round out their program.

East Los Angeles College

Located in the suburb of Monterey Park, East Los Angeles College is a large, 2-year college in the Los Angeles area. It offers several photography certificate and associate's degree programs, which can train students in a wide variety of photographic styles and techniques.

Certificate of Achievement in Photography and Digital Imaging

The certificate program consists of 35-36 credits. Students must complete courses in basic commercial fields, beginning photography, advanced photographic techniques, photographic sensitometry, color photography and digital photography, as well as one elective.

Certificate of Achievement in Large Format Photography

This certificate program requires the completion of four courses for a total of 13 credits. Students learn about beginning, as well as advanced photography methods, in addition to commercial photography and a course in photographic sensitometry. The program provides skills in using 4x5 and 8x10 sheet film cameras.

Certificate of Achievement in Studio Lighting and Techniques

The studio lighting and techniques program covers both beginning and advanced techniques in photography and includes two courses focused on commercial photography. Students must take four courses and earn a total of 16 credits.

Associate of Arts in Photography

The associate's degree curriculum includes beginning photography, 2-dimensional design, commercial photography, digital photography, advertising and advanced photographic techniques. Students are required to purchase a 35mm camera with specific features.

Santa Monica College

Located west of Los Angeles, Santa Monica College is a 2-year, public school that offers a wide variety of photography courses that can prepare students for careers as portrait photographers, artists, commercial photographers or photojournalists. SMC allows students to choose between a certificate of achievement or an associate's degree program.

Certificate of Achievement in Photography

The 42-unit certificate program includes several required courses, including design, commercial photography techniques, portrait photography, advanced commercial photography, beginning Photoshop, advanced Photoshop, beginning portfolio development and digital capture. The remaining credits are completed through photography electives.

Associate of Arts in Photography

The 60-unit associate's degree program includes coursework in design, commercial photography techniques, portrait photography, beginning Photoshop and beginning portfolio development. Electives are available in lab techniques, news photography, color printing, photography for publication and history of photography.

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