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Photography Bachelor's Degree Programs

A photography bachelor's degree program can give you the artistic and business acumen necessary for a career as a photographer. Read on to find out about bachelor's-level education in photography and the job outlook for this field.

What Are Photography Bachelor's Degree Programs Like?

Often housed in a college or university's art department, photography bachelor's degree programs can give you a solid grounding in artistic concepts and advanced technical skills in photography and related equipment. Depending on your program, you can earn a professional Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or academic Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees. Some BFA programs require you to submit a portfolio as part of your application, and you usually need to have a camera of your own.

In a bachelor's degree program in photography, you learn how to take and print both black-and-white and color photographs using manual and digital cameras. You usually have access to developing labs, digital editing computer software and other equipment. Much of your learning takes you outside of the classroom to shoot photographs, and you often spend extensive time in labs and studios. Online programs aren't typically offered for photography bachelor's degree students.

Degree Varieties Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts, or Bachelor of Science
Common Courses Art history, digital editing, color photography, composition, marketing
Possible Work Environments Commercial studios, news agencies, publishing companies
Median Salary (2018)$34,000 (Photographers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)6% decline (Photographers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Courses Will I Take?

Most photography bachelor's degree programs require you to take a selection of art and art history courses. Your curriculum may include a course that covers design, and in some programs, you can choose courses that teach you about drawing, modeling and painting. Art theory and history are also often discussed. Some photography bachelor's degree programs delve into business topics with courses that discuss professionalism, marketing and entrepreneurship.

Your photography courses might include topics in black-and-white photography, composition, color photography, processing and digital editing. Some programs require you to take photography courses sequentially - from introductory through advanced courses. Others organize courses according to topic, such as digital, wildlife, commercial and experimental photography. You also learn about photography tools and printmaking methods.

What Kind of Job Might I Have?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), self-employment is more common in the photography field than in many other fields, with more than half of all photographers working independently in 2016 (www.bls.gov). The same source reported that many self-employed photographers contract with agencies and publishers, and some provide images for stock photograph providers. The BLS reported that photographers who made a regular wage primarily worked in commercial studios or for news agencies. Typically, photographers working in journalism and science need a degree to gain employment.