Digital cameras and photo-editing software programs have transformed both the world of photography and the way professors at teach photography to their students. As the tried and true methods of traditional photography blend with the many advances of modern digital photography, you could almost consider photography a new field again in many ways. With so much to learn about this vibrant field, graduates of photography degree programs could stand out for their knowledge of the latest photography technologies and techniques.
Featured Online Colleges for Photography in 2018-19
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. By enrolling in an online degree program for photography, you can study the art without the need to commute to a brick-or-mortar school.
To help students find the best program for their goals, we researched data on various colleges that offer online photography programs. If you're considering this degree program and career, one of these featured schools might be just what you're looking for.
Academy of Art University
Columbus State Community College
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
Savannah College of Art and Design
Dakota College at Bottineau
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
- 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.
Photography Career Outlook
Whether someone has an eye for a beautiful shot or the technical know-how to keep equipment working properly, there is a place for them in the photography field. This page provides information on some of the careers available in this field, including an overview of daily duties and the skills needed to execute them.
Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following four criteria for the specific subject being ranked:
- Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
- Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2016-17
- Have reported data for all 11 ranking variables listed below
We ranked 1,813 colleges and universities in the United States on 11 criteria, using 2016-17 data from IPEDS:
- Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
- Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
- Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
- Graduation rate
- Retention rate
- The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Prepaid, Guaranteed, Other)
- Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
- Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
- Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.
NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/