Photojournalism is the practice of delivering a news story or editorial comment through photography. Instruction in this field is available through photojournalism concentrations offered as part of photographic technology associate's degrees and journalism bachelor's and master's degrees. Photojournalism programs combine coursework in reporting with artistic and technical instruction in photography. Hands-on projects are common, and online courses may be available.
A high school diploma or GED is needed to enroll in a photographic technology associate's degree or photojournalism bachelor's degree program. Applicants are advised to take any available high school courses in photography to gain familiarity with the technology.
Most photojournalism master's degree programs require applicants to submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a resume and a portfolio as part of their application. Programs often look for applicants who have former employment or internship experience in photojournalism.
Associate of Applied Science in Photographic Technology
A limited number of schools offer concentrations in photojournalism through Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs in photographic technology. Students in these programs learn the methods used to take photographs and the basic theories of journalism. Most of the coursework emphasizes the correct use of photographic technology to achieve desired photographic effects. Students complete hands-on projects using camera equipment to hone their skills.
Specialization coursework in AAS programs cover topics like photographic design, lighting techniques and digital imaging, as well as journalistic ethics and visual storytelling. Students often complete supervised practical assignments where they prepare a portfolio of their work. The classes noted below are often required:
- Journalism theory
- Developing color photographs
- Digital photography
- Editorial photography
- Portrait lighting
Bachelor's Degree in Journalism
Applicants to Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in photojournalism who have previous experience writing for their high school newspaper are at an advantage over applicants with no previous experience.
Students specializing in photojournalism take classes in reporting, editorializing and photographic techniques. In addition to teaching practical skills, programs also emphasize the theoretical and aesthetic aspects of the discipline. Students often take classes in the following:
- Mass communication theory
- News reporting
- Photojournalism theory
- Ethics in photojournalism
- Visual communication techniques
Master of Arts in Journalism
Master of Arts (M.A.) programs with a specialization in photojournalism require students to complete a core of journalism classes and another core of classes relevant to photography. Many programs offer separate tracks for people interested in theoretical or practical applications. Regardless of students' track, they complete hands-on activities to build their skills.
The coursework that master's-level photojournalism students take varies depending on the students' track. Students in the research track learn the history of photojournalism and take courses on the analytical aspects of the discipline, while professional-track students learn about real-life methods and practices. The topics below are often covered in required classes:
- Mass media studies
- Magazine design
- Creating photographic essays
- Quantitative research methods in photojournalism
- Qualitative research methods in photojournalism
Popular Career Options
Since photographic technology AAS programs emphasize general photographic concepts, graduates aren't confined to careers in photojournalism. Graduates might choose the following careers:
- Freelance photojournalist
- Newspaper photojournalist
- Commercial photographer
Graduates with a bachelor's degree are prepared for a variety of careers in photography and journalism. Since there aren't any licensure or certification requirements to be a photojournalist, people who enter the workforce after earning a bachelor's degree can qualify for the same positions as those with more education. However, experience as evidenced by a strong portfolio of photographs is also important. The careers listed below are popular options:
- Magazine photographer
- Newspaper photographer
- Entertainment photographer
Completing a master's degree program in photojournalism prepares graduates for advanced careers in the field. People who study photojournalism at the master's degree level can work as freelancers or for specific newspapers or magazines. Graduates often choose the following careers:
- Independent photojournalist
- Magazine editor
- Staff photographer
Continuing Education Options
A limited number of schools allow doctoral students to specialize in photojournalism. These programs emphasize the theoretical and academic aspects of the discipline, preparing graduates for careers in research or academia. The coursework in these programs usually includes classes dealing with media studies.
After earning an undergraduate or graduate degree in photojournalism or photographic technology, students are qualified for a litany of jobs in the photography and photojournalism fields. While there may not be any professional certifications or licensure to pursue, students may elect to continue their education through a doctoral program with a specialization in photojournalism, but this track is extremely rare.