PhD in Photography

Graduate programs in photography focus on the historical, theoretical and artistic elements of the medium. Learn about graduate degrees, theoretical and practical coursework, and admission requirements. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Ph.D. in Photography?

Opportunities to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Photography aren't currently available. Students interested in the history of photography might find some doctoral-level courses in the subject; for example, some Ph.D. in Art History programs include courses in photography and the history of photography. If you're interested in photography as a practice, however, you'll find that a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Photography is a terminal degree. Due to the extremely hands-on nature of this program, online MFA degree options are extremely rare.

Advanced Degree OptionsPh.D in photography is not available. The terminal degree is an MFA.
Course Structure2-year MFA program covers theoretical art topics and extensive hands-on studio training.
Admission RequirementsBachelor's degree, related experience, and a strong portfolio
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $34,000 (for Photographers)
Job Decline (2016-2026)* 6% (for Photographers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Expect from an MFA in Photography?

Many schools offer a Master of Fine Arts in Photography program. This studio-arts concentration tends to be highly competitive, since admission is often limited to a small number of students - sometimes as few as seven. In these 2-year programs, you'll look at photography and its changing role in today's art world. You'll spend time studying digital photography and film photography. Some of your coursework will be completed independently to simulate the independent work environment that you'll face after graduation.

Plenty of your time will be spent on theory and shooting methods, as well as how to light studios and develop in dark rooms. You'll practice with digital cameras, black and white film, color film and non-silver processes. Your work will take place in state-of-the-art facilities, including computer, dark room and studio spaces. The final project you create will be exhibited as part of your graduate thesis.

How Can I Prepare for Admission?

You'll need to hold a bachelor's degree, which is the case when applying to any graduate program. With an MFA program, you'll usually benefit from having a major in a related background, such as photography or visual arts. If you don't have a related major, you'll need to demonstrate your interest in the subject by having significant field experience. All applicants must provide a portfolio of their work to be considered for admission. This collection should represent your best work and be comprised of relatively recent photos.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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