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Professional Photography Certificate Programs in CA

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are over 20 schools within California that have photography certificates. Read an overview of ten of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Essential Information

Aspiring photographers in California can pursue certificate programs in general photography or a number of specialized photography areas. There are more than 20 schools in the state that offer certificates, with many also providing associate's degrees in the field. Most programs require students to provide their own camera equipment, but offer access to other photography resources such as studio rooms, editing and dark rooms, and lighting equipment. Students are encouraged to develop a portfolio throughout the program and may have the opportunity to study abroad or complete a fieldwork experience.


College of the Canyons

Students in College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita can choose between 21-credit certificates of achievement in commercial and fine art photography. Aspiring commercial photographers study cameras and composition, studio and wedding photography, digital imaging, photography business and portraits. The fine art program includes courses in art history and drawing as well as documentary, landscape and experimental photography. Students in both programs can participate in photography labs and must compile a portfolio.

Cosumnes River College

Sacramento's Cosumnes River College offers certificates of achievement in photography, fine art photography, portrait/wedding photography and commercial/studio photography. Under the department's four faculty members, students study digital and color photography as well as the history of photography. Other course options include photojournalism, large format photography, lighting techniques, advertising photography and alternative processes. The total number of required credits varies by program.

Cypress College

Cypress College, located in Cypress, has several options for aspiring photographers. The school offers certificates in photography, advertising and illustrative photography, color photography, creative photo arts, digital photography, multimedia photography and portrait/wedding photography. Some available courses are drawing, 3D photo imaging, conceptual and contemporary photography, photography for publication and small business management. Students may also pursue the college's associate degree in photography.

Foothill College

Foothill College in Los Altos Hills has certificates in traditional and digital photography as well as in photo criticism and laboratory technician skills. The certificate programs range between 12 and 40 credits and include courses in the history of photography, black and white photography, digital camera techniques and contemporary photo issues. Students can also take elective classes such as photojournalism, studio and experimental photography, composition and portfolio development. Field study opportunities are offered through the program.

Fresno City College

Students at Fresno City College in Fresno can pursue one of four certificates in commercial, digital, fine art and journalism photography. Courses include lighting, photography practices, digital darkroom and editorial photography. Each certificate program requires 12 credit hours to complete. The college also offers study abroad opportunities and on-campus day care facilities for children.

Glendale Community College

Glendale Community College, located in Glendale, offers a 29-credit-hour photography certificate with courses in black and white, digital and documentary photography. Students also learn about topics such as lighting, Photoshop and alternative photography processes. This school has an open admissions policy.

Moorpark College

Moorpark College in Moorpark allows students to select a 17.5-credit certificate of achievement program in photography. The program covers beginning, intermediate and advance photography, photo history, image editing and studio techniques as well as basic photojournalism. Participants in the program can take general education courses on top of the certificate course load to earn an associate degree.

Mt. San Jacinto Community College

Undergraduates at San Jacinto's Mt. San Jacinto Community College may complete a certificate program in photography that requires courses such as multimedia, two-dimensional design and digital photography production. Electives such as digital art, media design, business communication and animation are available. Additionally, students have access to a digital imaging studio with a light room and imaging lab. The school also offers an associate degree in this field.

Santa Ana College

Santa Ana College, based in Santa Ana, has a photography certificate that takes between 22 and 24 credit hours to finish. Students take courses in digital photography, photo graphics, portrait and wedding photography and the zone system. The school provides on-campus day care facilities and may offer weekend/evening courses.

Santa Rosa Junior College

Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa offers a 30-credit-hour certificate in photography. Program participants take fundamental courses in art and design, color and drawing before receiving training in areas such as color photography, alternative processes and photojournalism. Students may also participate in field experiences and learn how to compile a professional portfolio.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Photography Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
College of the Canyons 2-year; public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Fine Art Photography,
Certificate of Achievement in Commercial Photography
$1,154 *
Cosumnes River College 2-year; public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Photography,
Certificate of Achievement in Fine Art Photography,
Certificate of Achievement in Portraiture and Wedding Photography,
Certificate of achievement in Commercial and Studio Photography
$1,104 (in-state),
$7,440 (out-of-state)*
Cypress College 2-year; public; large suburb Associate in Arts in Photography, Certificates in 6 photography specialty areas including Advertising and Illustrative Photography, Creative Photo Arts, Digital Photography, Digital Photo Technician, Multimedia Photography, and Photography $1,138 (in-state),
$6,154 (out-of-state)*
Foothill College 2-year; public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Photography,
Certificate of Achievement in Traditional Photography ,
Certificate of Achievement in Digital Photography ,
Photo Criticism Skills Certificate,
Photographic Laboratory Technician Skills Certificate
$1,551 (in-state),
$8,391 (out-of-state)*
Fresno City College 2-year; public; large city Certificate of Completion in Commercial Photography,
Certificate of Completion in Digital Photography,
Certificate of completion in Fine Art Photography,
Certificate of Completion in Photojournalism
$1,194 (in-state),
$6,834 (out-of-state)*
Glendale Community College 2-year; public; midsize city Certificate in Photography $1,175 (in-state),
$5,855 (out-of-state)*
Moorpark College 2-year; public; midsize suburb Certificate of Achievement in Photography, Associate in Science in Photography $1,388 (in-state),
$7,050 (out-of-state)*
Mt. San Jacinto Community College 2-year; public; midsize suburb Certificate in Photography $1,386 (in-state),
$7,656 (out-of-state)*
Santa Ana College 2-year; public; large city Certificate in Photography $1,142 (in-state),
$6,902 (out-of-state)*
Santa Rosa Junior College 2-year; public; midsize city Certificate in Art: Photography $1,318 (in-state),
$6,637 (out-of-state)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator


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