Online Photography Degrees

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For those that have the ability to take professional photographs that evoke emotion and/or tell a story, online photography degrees can help turn talent into a career.

Online Photography Degrees

Your artistic creativity and talent will be complemented by courses in graphic design, business, communications, marketing, and more to provide the foundation necessary for a successful career as a professional photographer.

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If you have a passion to tell stories through your photographs and want to learn the skills required to take your hobby to the next step, a photography degree may be just what you need.

Online Bachelors in Photography Degrees

Woman taking Online Bachelors in Photography Degree

An online photography Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is a bachelor’s degree offered by many universities concentrating on the art of photography.

Majors in photography gain a solid grounding in the operation of digital cameras, how to set up shots with lighting, and image post-production processes. In addition to the more technical aspects of photography, digital photography schools also teach their students about humanities-oriented subjects to enhance their vision as a photographer.

Schooling for photography majors may also involve classes on business, marketing, and social media management. These types of courses may help you set yourself apart from other competitors in the photography space and earn business doing your craft.

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There are many industries and settings in which photographers are needed. This flexibility to work in many places may be one of the advantages of attending digital photography schools.

Earning an online bachelor’s photography degree may qualify you to work in the following industries:

  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
  • News Media
  • Retail and Mail-Order Houses
  • Marketing

In addition to finding employment as a photographer, earning a photography BFA degree may qualify you to work as a creative director, publisher, editor, or in other similar roles.

Common Types of Professional Photographers

The skill of photography is useful across multiple industries and settings. Photographers work in many different environments, capturing the different things their clients require.

Whether at celebrity events, sports matches, political rallies, runway shows, or other events, photographers are almost a ubiquitous presence.

Aerial Photographers

Aerial Photographer taking photos from the helicopter

Aerial photographers take photos from planes, helicopters, and other flying platforms. Aerial photography refers to bird’s eye view photographs that focus on objects and people on the ground. Aerial photography is not the taking of photographs of other flying aircraft.

Aerial photographers may find employment working for the government or other organizations looking to capture images of the ground from the air.

Commercial Photographers

Commercial Photographers working on a product photoshoot project

Commercial photographers are photographers that take photos used for business and for publications. These images may be used in various forms of media, such as newspapers, magazines, billboards, internet advertisements, and the like.

Any business looking to sell its products may hire commercial photographers to take professional photos of its products.

Drone Photographers

Drone Photographer testing his camera set up

Drone photographers are photographers that take photos utilizing drone platforms. Similarly to aerial photography, the subjects of these photos are usually on the ground.

Apart from knowing in-depth the mechanics of photography, drone photographers must be skilled at operating drones in multiple types of conditions to ensure the best results.

Event Photographers

Event Photographer in a wedding

Like commercial photography, event photography is a broad field. These types of photographers are used to document any type of event that needs documentation.

This type of professional photographer may work at events as diverse are weddings, corporate functions, parties, and anniversaries. Event photographers may work freelance or as part of a media company.

Fashion Photographers

Fashion Photographer doing photoshoot with a model

Fashion photographers are some of the most famous photographers today as they work capturing the world of high fashion. These photographers may work with models in staged photoshoots, capturing their looks, or at runway events when new designers reveal their work.

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Fashion photography may appear in fashion publications, and is an important way for designers to get their work viewed by the public.

Fine Arts Photographers

Fine Arts Photographer taking panoramic shots

Fine arts photographers use photography as their medium for creative expression. They combine the technical mastery of a camera with an artistic vision to create original works in their chosen medium.

The subject of fine arts photographers may be anything that expresses emotions and their vision. Fine arts photography can be set up beforehand or can be spur-of-the-moment.

Industrial Photographers

Industrial Photographer taking photos of an equipment

These types of photographers work with subjects such as manufacturing facilities, heavy equipment, the staff that operates this equipment and the factories, and the products.

These photos are used for websites, flyers, and other advertising for the companies that hired the photographer.

Nature Photographers

Nature Photographer taking shots in the forest

Nature photographers have nature as their subject. They capture animals, plants, and the general beauty of nature.

The images nature photographers produce may be used for nature magazines as well as for nature textbooks and other materials. It may also be reposted on the internet. Nature photography holds high respect for the aesthetic quality of the photograph, placing a premium on capturing the beauty and essence of nature.

News Photographers

News Photographer during a rally

News photographers are hired by news organizations to be on the ground where news is happening and to capture the moment.

News photographers have to be quick on their feet, as the moment for a shot might slip away as events move forward. Photojournalists have to capture events as realistically as possible to show news audiences an accurate portrayal of the event.

Sports Photographers

Sports Photographers at a major league games

Sports photographers work capturing photos of sports events, practices, and players. They may work on the sidelines, getting close to the action, or from further away, getting a great perspective of the ongoing events.

Typically, sports photographers work for sports teams who want to show off their players and games or for sports publications. Their work appears in sports magazines, advertisements in print and online, and on TV.

Portrait Photographers

Portrait Photographer doing family portrait shoots

Portrait photographers work by taking photographs of their clients to capture their likenesses and personality. A good portrait photographer manipulates lighting and other elements to best capture the subject.

These types of photographs can be used for many purposes, including personal reasons, for advertisements, and for a business or organization.

Scientific Photographers

Scientific Photographer getting ready for photoshoot in the lab

Scientific photographers take images for research purposes for scientists. They work with a diverse group of subjects, from faraway stars to tiny cells, to provide the most accurate images of scientific phenomena.

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The usefulness of scientific photography is that it provides visual evidence for proving or disproving scientific claims. Because of this, this type of photography is highly accurate.

Photography Careers and Salaries

Photography Careers and Salaries

Earning an online bachelor’s degree in photography may qualify you for a wide variety of careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), media and communication equipment positions, which photographers are part of, are projected to grow by 10% over the next decade.

Below, we have listed some of the top careers in photography along with their annual median salaries according to the BLS.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Art Directors $100,890
Producers and Directors $79,000
Fashion Designers $77,450
Writers and Authors $69,510
Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators $60,360
Graphic Designers $50,710
Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers $50,120
Craft and Fine Artists $49,960
Desktop Publishers $46,910
Photographers $38,950

Many of these positions have good job growth predictions according to the BLS. The outlook for craft and fine artists is a 6% growth in jobs throughout the next decade.

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Similarly, producer and director positions are predicted to increase by 8% in the next 10 years. Graphic designer positions have a predicted job growth rate of 3% over the same time period.

Online Photography Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses

head photographer guiding his students
Colleges with photography majors design their curricula to give their students the knowledge and skills they need to be strong digital camera operators and photo editors. The course you may have to take differ depending on the specific program you attend. Generally, they cover camera operation, lighting, post-production, and artistic literacy.

These are 10 of the courses you may encounter as a digital photography major:

  • History of Photography: This course examines the development and history of photography from its origin in the 19th century to the present day.
  • Digital Photography: This course introduces students to the basic principles of digital photography as an art and the basic concepts of digital photography.
  • Principles of Design: This course instructs students on the basics of design and how they are used to communicate meaning to an audience.
  • Photographic Lighting: This class goes over the uses of light within photography and how a photographer can manipulate light to achieve their objective.
  • Business for Photographers: This course introduces students to pertinent business concepts of photography and how to apply them to their practice of the craft.
  • Social Media Management: This course teaches students how to manage social media and how to organize and implement social media strategies.
  • Editing: This course shows students how to use various pieces of editing software for photos including Adobe software and other editing tools.
  • Documentary Photography: This course instructs students on the history and practices of photographic narratives and their uses.
  • Visual and Media Literacy: This course examines what media literacy is and how messages are transmitted across mediums to convey meaning.
  • Experimental Digital Photography: This course studies the intersection of innovation and new uses of technology that digital photography is influenced by.

In addition to the courses listed above, students may have to complete a portfolio of digital photography.

BA in Photography Admissions Requirements

Friends preparing BA in Photography Requirement

Each university has different admissions requirements, though there are some similarities between all colleges. Typically, when applying, you may be asked to complete or submit some of the following materials:

  • Online application: Most universities ask you to complete an online application.
  • Standardized test scores, if required: Though this is becoming less common, some universities still require that you submit either SAT or ACT scores.
  • Transcripts: Most schools may ask you to submit your transcripts from any previous schools that you have attended.

You should ensure that all your application requirements are met to increase your chances of attending the program you want. If you are unsure, it can be helpful to check with the admissions office of your desired school.

Online Photography Schools Accreditation

University offering Online Photography Degrees

Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency verifies that a university is following the best educational practices to ensure that its students are receiving a high-quality education.

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By visiting the U.S. Department of Education’s website, you can see if the schools you are researching for photography degrees are accredited by regional accreditation agencies. Earning a degree from a non-accredited university may negatively impact your chances of attaining future employment or attending graduate school.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Photography Degrees Financial Aid

Paying for college may be a burden for a lot of students. For this reason, there are a lot of sources of financial aid available to help pay for education.

Federal aid in the form of loans and grants is one of the largest forms of aid. Making an account and completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Federal Student Aid website can help you see what types of aid you may be eligible for.

States may have their own student aid programs and websites, as well. In addition to government aid, other organizations may offer scholarships to students. To earn these scholarships, you may have to apply and meet certain requirements.

Is Photography a Good Career?

Photographers importing raw files to their pc

Yes, photography is a good career for many professionals. Becoming a photographer allows you to be creative and express yourself artistically. A career in photography also tends to be very flexible. Many photographers are able to set their own schedules.

A career in photography is also very lucrative as photographers can set their own rates and use their experience in multiple verticals. For example, film and video editors and camera operators can earn an average salary of $60,360 while art directors can earn up to $100,890.

Photographers earn an average salary of $38,950 but with on-the-job experience and brand building as a photographer, many end up setting their own rates.

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Photographer?

Photographer working on a new project

Determining which photography degree is best for you depends on your career goals. An online photography class or a certification will likely be enough to provide the foundation to get started. If you want to take your career further, an online photography school can offer you a competitive edge.

To work as a professional photographer, an associate degree may sometimes be sufficient. However, a bachelor’s degree would provide a more robust education and diverse portfolio. For some professions, such as photojournalism or commercial photography, a bachelor’s may be required. A master’s degree would be ideal for very serious artists or those who wish to teach others or become art directors.

What Can You Do With a Photography Degree?

There are many jobs you may be eligible to get if you earn an online photography degree. Because your degree teaches you how to use and operate a camera, a career as a photographer makes a lot of sense.

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According to the BLS, these careers have a predicted job growth rate of 9% over the next decade. If you want to do something else with the education a degree may give you, art director jobs are also promising. The BLS states that these jobs have a predicted growth rate of 4% over the next 10 years.

Can You Take Photography Classes Online?

two photography students retouching images
Yes, you can take photography classes online. Whether you’re looking to take 1 or 2 introductory courses or pursue a photography degree, you can do it online.

Online photography classes offer flexibility to work around your daily life. You can continue to work full or part-time, travel, and maintain your commitments to family and friends while working to achieve your goals. Your coursework can be completed at your own pace.

With online learning, you will likely participate in online forums and get valuable feedback on your portfolio from professors and peers. You will also likely have the opportunity to connect with and learn from professional photographers, not just from your community, but from around the world.

How Long Does it Take to Get a BFA in Photography Online?

The time it takes to earn a bachelor’s in fine arts in photography online depends on a couple of factors including the university’s schedule and your personal time commitment. Typically, if you study full-time and your university follows a 16-week semester structure, it may take you 4 years to earn your degree.

If your university follows a different schedule, for example, one that has 8-week semesters and allows you to be enrolled year-round, then it may take less time to complete the degree.

Is Photography a Dying Profession?

photographer checking the photos on the screen
No, photography is not a dying profession. Some people argue that ultra-affordable digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras and even advanced smartphones, paired with readily available and easy-to-use editing software, have made professional photography a thing of the past. This is not the case.

Good photography is about more than just snapping a photo with decent lighting and composition. It requires creativity and passion to ensure that the photos tell stories and/or convey emotion. Good photos make people stop, take notice, and think or feel a certain way. If this excites or intrigues you or if this is a gift you may have, you could have a successful career in photography.

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Check out some of the online degrees that you might want to explore in photography and other related fields.

What Else Could I Do With a Photography Degree?

Art Director checking the progress of a photoshoot project

A photography degree can open the door to all types of photography, as well as the opportunity to educate others on the art. But that’s not all. Eventually, your experience in photography could lead you down other creative paths. For example, you may want to take your creative passion for photography into the world of graphic design.

You may enjoy having a leadership role and have your goals set on becoming an art director or video producer. Perhaps you enjoy behind-the-scenes work and would like to become a video or camera operator. With an artistic eye, your degree could lead you to many places. It all depends on your interests, passion, and motivation.

Is It Too Late to Become a Photographer?

It’s never too late to get into photography. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how far into another career you are, you can take courses to help you enter the world of photography.

You can enroll in online photography classes, or even go for an online photography degree, at the age of 18 or 80. In fact, a mature perspective and more life experience may actually be an asset to your photography. If you have a creative drive and are looking to put that creativity to good use, a career in photography may be an ideal choice for you.

How Do You Become a Certified Professional Photographer?

two photographers checking lens of the camera

A certified professional photographer is one who has completed the Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) program offered by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). To become a CPP, you must:

  • Join the PPA and declare your candidacy by completing the CPP Candidacy form and paying the application fee
  • Study for and take the CPP exam online
  • Submit images for technical review
  • Recertify every three years

Earning this credential may set you apart from novice photographers. It can show clients and others that you are knowledgeable, experienced, and continuing to develop your skills in photography.

How Much Do Professional Photographers Make?

two photographers doing product shoot
The salary of a photographer is hard to pin down because the profession is so expensive. The salary of a freelancer taking family photos is much different from a high-end fashion photographer or a photojournalist for a national magazine.

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How much money photographers make depends on their education, acquired skills, industry, position, length of employment, and location. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for a professional photographer is $38,950 while the average annual salary for a photojournalist can be upwards of $65,980.

Is a Photography Degree Worth It?

two photographers looking at the photos
Yes, a photography degree is worth it for many students. A photography degree program provides not only in-depth training in photography but also the business, management, and entrepreneurial skills necessary to be successful in this career.

While earning an online photography degree you may learn to:

  • Advertise your services
  • Develop contracts and photo release forms
  • Work with natural and artificial lighting
  • Take various types of photographs
  • Use various photo-editing software programs
  • Create and maintain a portfolio

The skills learned during a degree program can help you turn this hobby into a lucrative and long-term career. The field of photography continues to be a growing field. The BLS projects that photography will see a 9 percent increase in job growth over the next 10 years, adding 12,700 jobs to the market.

For those looking to take their photography degree to another level, graphic designers will see a 3% growth while film and video editors and camera operators will enjoy a 12% growth over the next decade.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Photography Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University offers a BFA in Photography. The program can be completed entirely online and typically requires at least 8 semesters to finish. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate. Courses are either 7.5 or 15 weeks long. Most work can be completed asynchronously, but there is interaction and feedback between professors and students.

Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Students at Arizona State University can earn a BFA in Photography through the school’s online learning platform. The fully online program requires 40 courses, and each class is 7.5 weeks long. Students need a DSLR camera or a digital camera with manual operations. The curriculum consists of courses like History of Photography and Introduction to Digital Media.

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers a BA in Advertising and Graphic Design. Students must complete 120 credits to graduate. The program provides opportunities to take and manipulate photographs in a graphic design context and work with classmates on client projects. Classes start weekly and are offered entirely online. Most are asynchronous.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a BS in Digital Design with a concentration in Photography. The program is fully online, and each course is 8 weeks long. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate, which can potentially be done in 3.5 years. Students can potentially transfer in up to 75% of their credits.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University offers a BFA in Art and Design with an emphasis in Photography. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours—42 general education credits, 36 program credits, and 42 photography credits. The program can typically be completed in 2 to 4 years. The curriculum consists of courses like Visual Storytelling.

Lindenwood is accredited by Higher Learning Commission.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University offers a Bachelor of Design in Digital Multimedia Design. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours. Students may be able to earn up to 6 credits through their portfolios. The program is fully online and asynchronous. Courses follow a regular semester schedule. The curriculum consists of courses like Photography for the Mass Media.

Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design offers a BFA in Photography that can be completed entirely online. To graduate, students must complete 123 credit hours, which includes 54 credits in photography courses and 6 elective credits. Courses follow a regular semester schedule. The curriculum seeks to teach students skills like commercial photography, lighting, and visual storytelling.

RMCAD is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design

Students at Savannah College of Art and Design can earn a BA or BFA in Photography. Both degrees can be earned entirely online, and the online program offers the same curriculum as its on-campus counterparts.

To graduate, students must complete 180 credit hours. Students must choose one of the following concentrations: Commercial, Documentary, or Fine Art Photography. The curriculum consists of courses like Video Techniques for Photographers.

SCAD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southeastern University

Southeastern University

Southeastern University offers a BS in Digital Media and Design. Students interested in photography can choose the Digital Design track. The program is offered fully online. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, 6 of which must be chosen from their selected tracks. The curriculum consists of courses like International Visual Storytelling and Color Theory.

Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers a Bachelor’s in Photography. The program is offered entirely online, and courses are asynchronous. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate. The curriculum consists of classes like Photographic Practice in the Digital Age. ACT and SAT scores are not required to apply, and there’s no application fee. SNHU accepts up to 90 qualifying transfer credits.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.

Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree in Photography Online

Woman pursuing Bachelor’s Degree in Photography Online

If you enjoy photography and want to learn more about the art of capturing images, then earning a bachelor’s degree in photography may be right for you.

Universities offering this degree online follow curriculums that may teach you photographic skills as well as other concepts to help you further your degree in photography. There may also be opportunities for you to do other types of work with the education you gain from the degree.

You can start by researching and reviewing accredited schools that offer these types of degrees with care. Consider your circumstances and goals to decide if earning a photography degree online is right for you.

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.