Guide to Online Photography Degrees

PhotographyDegrees.org is a site that provides resources and tips for students interested in becoming photographers. If you love taking pictures but need more training and experience to get the job you’ve always wanted, earning a degree in photography will prepare you for long-term success. While the online availability of photography degrees is limited, several schools offer graphic design and visual communication programs that teach many of the fundamental skills needed in a photography career. Graphic design programs also provide photography training, depending on the program you choose.

A degree in photography is an added bonus to any photog’s career. You’ll learn advanced skills and techniques that are applicable in today’s photography industry. The field has changed drastically over the years due to technology and social media. Degree programs in photography provide students the skills and knowledge in such areas as digital photography, digital darkroom and photo enhancement, digital manipulation, archiving, restoration, and more.

The Art Institutes BS - Digital Photography AS - Digital Photography BS - Graphic Design AS - Graphic Design The Art Institutes – The Art Institutes Online represents the online division for one of America's largest education networks. AI is one of the few schools offering an online program for photography, with an associate and bachelor degree program available. Classes can be taken at a fast pace so you can earn your associate degree in less than two years and your bachelor degree in just three years.
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Sanford Brown College BFA - Graphic Design AS - Graphic Design Sanford Brown College – While the Sanford Brown College doesn't offer online photography programs, many students opt for its BFA and AS in Graphic Design degrees instead. These degrees explore the fundamentals of design, including composition, contrast, and color theory and can be used to start a career as a photographer.
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Full Sail University BS - Graphic Design Full Sail University – Full Sail University is an art and design school with programs covering both print and digital media. The BS in Graphic Design program trains students to apply critical thinking skills and knowledge to create design solutions in typography, photography, digital design, and various other forms of media.
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American InterContinental University BFA - Graphic Design AA - Visual Communication American InterContinental University – While the American InterContinental University is not primarily a design school, it does offer several programs that can be used to start a photography career, including the BFA in Graphic Design and an AA in Visual Communication. Both programs teach you several competencies needed to start your career.
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Obtaining a Degree in Photography

Photography may seem like a “point and shoot” concept, but in order to be successful, students have to learn fundamental design concepts like composition, color theory, and contrast. Students also study software that can enhance, correct, and even completely alter their photos. Below are some of the best schools with online photography degrees available, but some students pursue degrees in graphic design. Photography Degrees is the site devoted to promoting the study of photography as a profession. This website maintains the most comprehensive updated list of accredited colleges and universities which offer a campus photography degree program.

If you’re interested in taking your photography career to the next level, getting the right education is an important first step. You have a few options to consider when it comes to pursuing a photography degree. Which one you choose depends on your college and career goals. If you’re just starting out, an associate degree might a good option or perhaps a bachelor degree if you can commit three or four years to your education. Below you’ll find a detailed explanation of the types of degrees available in this field:

  • Associate Degree: An Associate of Science in photography is designed to prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the field such as a photography assistant, digital retoucher, or a production assistant. You’ll learn the principles of light, color and design, business practices, and other essential skills. These programs often take one to two years to complete.
  • Bachelor Degree: A Bachelor of Science in photography is just one route you can take if you want to pursue your bachelor’s degree. Some schools offer a Bachelor of Arts in photography or a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography. Each program is unique and tailored to fit your needs as a photography student. Most programs at the bachelor level take three to four years to complete.
  • Master’s Degree: If you know photography is your passion and you want to make it a lifelong career, obtaining a master’s degree is a worthwhile endeavor. You’ll solidify your training and professional credibility in just two years. These programs often focus on theory and practice and include extensive field work. You’ll build an impressive portfolio and work with leaders in the field in a rigorous, artistic environment.

What Will I Learn in a Photography Program?

Photography programs teach a variety of skills that enable students to develop specific skills. These skills provide the necessary foundation for students wishing to pursue internships and paid positions in the photography industry. Depending on what level photographer you are, there is a program designed to help you succeed in the field. Some skills you might learn include:

  • Capture and image-editing techniques
  • Marketing and legal knowledge relevant to photography
  • Digital-imaging photography, lighting technics, and graphic arts technology
  • Website photography including image optimization and animation techniques

This list is by no means exhaustive. Photography programs are comprehensive and teach a variety of skills such as business and customer service skills, communication skills, how to use unique software and build a professional portfolio. Bachelor degree programs incorporate general education classes into your education plan while associate degrees and vocation certificates teach career-specific courses.

Once you’ve completed a program, at any degree level, you’ll have a portfolio to show prospective jobs and clients. As you continue to work in the field, your portfolio will be something that sells you. It’s a collection of your work that reflects your style of work.

What Photographers Do

A photography degree prepares you to work in many different of industries. You can pursue employment as a wedding or portrait photographer, commercial and industrial photographer, scientific or fine arts photographer, new photographer…the list goes on and on. Where you work depends on where you want to live, how you work, and what you know.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, photographers work in a variety of settings and are typically responsible for the following tasks:

  • Market and advertise services to attract clients
  • Analyze and decide how to compose a subject
  • Use various photographic techniques and equipment
  • Capture subjects in commercial-quality photographs
  • Enhance the subject’s appearance with natural or artificial light
  • Maintain a digital portfolio, often a website, to demonstrate work

Job duties vary depending on the type of photography, type of employer, and your credentials. Some photographers choose to work with many clients at once, especially those who work on a contract basis.

Online Photography Programs

Thanks to advancements in technology, you can now take some, if not all, of your classes online. This allows greater flexibility for students who work full-time or have families. Online photography programs can be earned at the associate, bachelor, and even master-degree level. Some programs follow the hybrid method of online instruction which combines both classroom and Internet construction. Basically, you get the best of both worlds! You’ll develop your individual style and create powerful portfolios from the comfort of your own home. Learning is conducted in an asynchronous format that gives maximum freedom while pursuing your degree. Our list of colleges and universities below provides links to accredited schools that offer a variety of photography degrees to suit your needs.

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