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PhD in Photojournalism

Students interested in a graduate degree in photojournalism may be able to find a Master of Fine Arts program in photography with a concentration in photojournalism; however, Ph.D. programs in photojournalism are not available. Learn about graduate programs that cover photojournalism and the employment outlook for graduates.

Can I Earn a Ph.D. in Photojournalism?

No, the highest degree you can get is a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in photojournalism. However, MFA programs specifically in photojournalism are rare, and it might be easier to find an MFA degree program in general photography that offers a concentration in photojournalism. Like a Ph.D., an MFA is considered a terminal degree in any creative field, including photography. Most MFA programs facilitate ways for you to earn professional work experience as well, such as working for artistic journals or teaching undergraduate classes.

Degree Option MFA in general photography with photojournalism concentration
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree, personal essay, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, photography portfolio
Skills Learned Taking photos, technical photographic techniques, choosing subjects for photographs, presenting photographs to achieve a desired effect
Common Courses Photojournalism techniques, media writing, photojournalism editing, composition, lighting
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $34,000 (for Photographers)
Job Decline (2016-2026)* 6% (for Photographers)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Educational Prerequisites?

Often, the most important prerequisite is a strong photography portfolio. The minimum educational requirement for admission is a bachelor's degree. You should also expect to submit a personal essay, letters of recommendation and standardized test scores.

What Will I Learn?

You'll learn how to take a successful photo. This includes professional development of creativity, gaining technical expertise in photographic techniques, as well as gaining knowledge of the history of photography. You'll learn how to choose subjects for photographs and present them in a way that achieves a desired effect. This might include manipulating lighting, camera settings, positioning or location.

Programs offering a specialization in photojournalism often train you in other media arts in order to help you understand the importance of photography in the world of journalism. Important skills in photojournalism include finding an appropriate story, timing, position, collaboration and preparation. This program takes 2-3 years to complete and typically culminates in a substantial portfolio of creative work.

What Classes Will I Take?

Classes take place both in the classroom and the studio. Some classes may also take place at off-campus locations. Classes like the following often appear in the curriculum:

  • Media writing
  • Composition
  • Lighting
  • Photojournalism techniques
  • Photojournalism editing

Will I Be Able to Get a Job?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the employment rate for photographers would decrease by 6% between 2016 and 2026, which is a decline (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for photographers in 2018 was $34,000.