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Online Colleges for Photography

Digital cameras and photo-editing software programs have transformed the world of photography and the way professors at photography colleges teach students. Although some old-school photographers may still resist the digital era, many have made the shift.

With its evolution into the technological world, photography has become a new field again in many ways and graduates of photography programs could stand out for their knowledge of the latest photography technologies. Photography degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's and master's levels. Certificates are also available and could be found through online photography programs.

Featured Online Colleges for Photography

Students interested in the practical and professional aspects of photography can learn new skills and increase their job prospects by pursuing a degree in this field. And since an array of online colleges for photography offer degree programs that are both exciting and flexible, pursuing this educational option may be easier than you think. With online degrees in photography, you can study the art of photographs without commuting to a brick-or-mortar school or rearranging your schedule.

To help students find the best program for their goals, we researched data on all colleges that offer online photography programs. If you're considering this degree program and career, check out these featured options:

1

Academy of Art University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$20,340
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
54.30%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
67
School Type
4-year

One of our featured colleges for photography is the Academy of Art University of San Francisco, California. This school offers four excellent and entirely online degrees in photography:

  • Associate of Arts (AA) Degree
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree
  • Master of Arts (MA) Degree
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree

Which of the above programs is the best option depends on your particular education and career goals. If your goal is securing an entry-level position, an associate degree might be ideal. However, a bachelor's or master's degree may work better for students whose career goals are broader.

This school's open admission policy -- a policy that means the university accepts any applicant as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED certificate -- helped it score a spot on our featured colleges for photography list, as did the range of degrees it offers and an encouragingly high graduation rate.

Accreditation:

  • National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)

Location:

79 New Montgomery
San Francisco, California, 94105
2

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$16,370
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
100.00%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
16
School Type
4-year

The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers a unique bachelor's degree program focusing on the commercial aspects of photography education. With the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Commercial Photography, students are taught to create compelling photographs for use in commercial photography; in documentaries; or for business purposes. Since this program is offered online, students can complete their coursework on their own schedule.

This school was immediately notable in our study due to its high graduation rate in comparison with its peers. This is particularly encouraging when paired with its open admissions policy, which makes it incredibly accessible for aspiring photographers from all walks of life.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

1600 Pierce St
Lakewood, Colorado 80214
3

Columbus State Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$3,808
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
45.83%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
41
School Type
2-year

Columbus State Community College offers an online Associate of Applied Science in Digital Photography, the goal of which is to help students grasp the technique and technology that go into creating beautiful and intriguing photographs. However, the college also offers multiple online certificate programs in the field. While the associate program is aimed at students hoping to increase their job prospects, certificates help photographers learn new skills or advance in their existing photography careers.

This school was elected worthy of being featured on this list due to its breadth of certificate programs and its overall accessibility (like the other colleges on this list, it boasts an open admissions policy). If you're interested in pursuing digital photography, check out Columbus State Community College and all it offers.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

550 E Spring St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215
4

Oklahoma School of Photography

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
2
School Type
Less than 2-year

The Oklahoma School of photography offers vocational programs in photography and digital imaging. Since this school focuses only on the art of photography in its academics, students who attend are sure to be immersed in the art and the practical aspects of taking photographs for a living.

As a photography-focused school with an open admissions policy, it was only natural that this school should make our list of featured photography colleges. The Oklahoma School of Photography is also a participating school in the Title IV Federal Financial Aid program, approved for Veteran Training, GI Bill, and Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)

Location:

2306 N Moore Ave.
Moore, Oklahoma 73160
5

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Edition

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$17,016
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
100.00%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
22
School Type
4-year

If you're interested in learning how photography works in the digital world, make sure to check out the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and its diverse photography programs. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh offers an array of interesting online photography degrees, including:

  • Associate of Science in Digital Photography
  • Bachelor of Science in Digital Photography
  • Certificate in Digital Workflow
  • Certificate in Portrait Photography
  • Certificate in Studio Photography

This school landed a spot on this list due to its wide array of degree and certificate options, as well as the high percentage of photography degrees awarded amongst its graduates. Like the other schools on this list, it also has an open admissions policy, making it quite accessible.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

400 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222-4332

Degree Overview: Photography

Photography is a career that relies on certain natural talents, and academic education may not be required in order to work in this field. However, a professional photographer must distinguish him- or herself from the crowd of amateur photographers with smartphones and tablets in order to gain employment. That's where online education for photography provides an edge. This section describes the coursework typically offered at online colleges for photography and the skills that coursework can build.

Online Photography Courses

Online photography degree programs are usually designed with students' uniqueness in mind. Generally speaking, the intent of these programs is to help students develop their own styles, while also exposing them to a wide range of styles and techniques. Coursework focuses not only on techniques, materials, processes and equipment, but also on principles of photography and how to achieve a client's vision through this medium.

Usually, online colleges for photography offer degrees at the associate or bachelor's degree level. Associate degree programs help photographers to become technically and aesthetically proficient via the foundations of photographic design, composition, lighting and camera operation.

Online bachelor's degree programs in photography may extend that training to include more specific courses, such as:

  • History of photography
  • Photojournalism
  • Two-dimensional design
  • Commercial photography
  • Visual storytelling

Additionally, bachelor's degree programs often lead students toward photography specialties, such as portraiture, fine art or photojournalism, and they may provide such workplace training as marketing or client needs assessment.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

Of course, students may expect to hone their skills in operating photographic equipment and materials during a photography program, including digital or 35-millimeter cameras and photo-editing software. However, students should find themselves developing other useful skills as they progress through their programs, such as:

  • Business savvy: At the end of the day, being a professional photographer means meeting deadlines, interacting with clients, managing time effectively, marketing one's work and even managing projects. Handling the deadlines for school-assigned projects can help to develop these skills.
  • Interpersonal skills: Interacting with clients and making photo subjects comfortable are essential talents for selling photography. Photographers should be good at dealing with people: making them feel at ease, establishing clear expectations and satisfying customers. On a related note, having the ability to handle animals with resolve and gentleness can be an equally valuable tool when interacting with clients who want to be photographed with their favorite pet.
  • Technical abilities: Expertise in a broad range of technology and equipment is important for a photographer's success. This means not only camera equipment but also lights, editing equipment and file-storage solutions.
  • Artistic sense: There's no underestimating the importance of having a good eye and knowing how to compose photographs. It's not uncommon for would-be artists to give up early, thinking that they don't have the talent to make it in a creative career, but online programs for photography can teach students a lot about aesthetics, graphic design and established artistic convention, helping students to try new things and expand their artistic sensibilities.
Sources and Methodologies

Sources:

  1. Bachelor of Fine Arts in Commercial Photography Online, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, http://www.rmcad.edu/academics/commercial-photography-online
  2. Digital Photography - Plan of Study of Associate of Applied Science, Columbus State Community College, http://global.cscc.edu/degrees/degree.asp?D=DIGTLPHOTO.AAS&I=P
  3. Semester-based Online Learning Certificate programs offered at Columbus State, Columbus State Community College, http://global.cscc.edu/degrees/online.asp?T=C
  4. Oklahoma School of Photography, http://www.schoolofphotography.edu/SiteAssets/2016%202017%20Catalog.pdf
  5. Online Digital Photography Degree Programs, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, https://www.artinstitutes.edu/online/academics/photography/digital-photography-degree-programs
  6. Online Photography Degree Programs, Academy of Art University, https://www.academyart.edu/academics/photography/online
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Sources and Methodologies