Types of Photography Degrees

In the digital age of Instagram, everyone is a photographer. You can snap a picture with your phone, apply a filter, a post it online. However, the very best photographers understand that it’s more than a point and shoot; photographers need to be able to think creatively, understand lighting and composition, understand different lenses and cameras, and ultimately be able to produce images that tell a great story. A degree in photography is what helps develop these tools and skills.

Professional photographers can work in fields like journalism, sports, weddings, fashion, head shots and stills, or even church photography. Many photographers are not only responsible for the photography events, but also find their own clients and do their own photo editing. Depending on the field – and ultimately the level of skill – photographers are paid anywhere from $14 – $20 an hour. Some of the best and most famous are paid much, much more.

So what degrees are available to start teaching those needed skills?


A basic photography certificate can be earned at a community college or online and teach someone the basics of lighting and cameras – digital vs. conventional – as well as how to develop and expose film. This type of education is a very useful foundation for going to work for a studio or starting a freelance photography career.

BFA vs. BA

Both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees are available for photography. The BFA is an extensive and intense degree that includes a lot of art history, electives, and in depth study of the field of photography. This is definitely a degree for someone who is certain about becoming a professional photographer and artist. A BA is a degree that also offers the creative and technical aspects of becoming a photographer, but allows students to complete coursework in other creative areas to complement their photography studies and have a well-rounded liberal arts education.

Online Photography Schools and Programs

Full Sail University Full Sail University is the college of choice for many students interested in new media art and design. The BS program in Graphic Design bridges the digital and analogue worlds with classes on software, composition and layout, operation of equipment, and design basics like color theory. This program is available online as well as at the campus.
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The Art Institutes The Art Institutes make up a vast school network across the US and online realm. Students have the freedom to pursue their degrees through online classes or at a nearby campus. AI offers two programs in photography, a certificate and BFA degree. AI also offers several alternatives for students who are interested in design and art.
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