What Are the Best Photography Schools and Degree Programs?

Explore the typical characteristics of good photography programs. Read about three schools with top-ranked programs in this field. Review the photography degrees you could pursue at each school. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Characteristics of the Best Photography Schools and Degree Programs?

You will probably want a school with high rankings and supportive resources, including visual collections, laboratories, equipment and studio space. You may also want opportunities to exhibit your work. Depending on your plans, you might prefer a fine arts or a commercial/industrial focus. Here are three highly rated schools with diverse options.

What Are Three of the Best Schools for Photographers?

Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ

ASU was tied for 9th in U.S. News & World Report's most recent graduate photography rankings in 2016. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts offers exhibition opportunities through its Northlight Gallery. Northlight also houses a photographic image collection extending back to 1840. The Harry Wood, Step and Gallery 100 spaces show student work. The Visual Resources Collection can also support your program. Additionally, you may enjoy the ASU Art Museum.

You will start as a bachelor of arts in art studies major. You must present a portfolio for admission to the BFA photography program after completing your core courses. MFA photography candidates will prepare a thesis exhibition. As a graduate student, you'll have your own private studio space. These photography degrees are offered:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Photography

Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI

RISD ranked seventh for its graduate photography program in 2016, according to U.S. News & World Report. The university houses its own museum. The Museum of Art offers exhibitions and permanent collections in multiple art forms including more than 25,000 works in prints, drawings, and photographs that date back to the 15th century. The Woods-Gerry Gallery features an annual exhibition of works of photo majors.

The Red Eye Gallery exhibits rotating student-curated exhibitions of works from photography majors as well senior projects. You'll be able to borrow equipment and use your own darkroom kit in lab facilities, which include Eizo CG243W 24.1' displays, a 12-station darkroom and a lab for antique and alternative processes. These photography degrees are available:

  • BFA in Photography
  • MFA in Photography

Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY

In the U.S. News & World Report evaluation in 2016, RIT's 100-year-old School of Photographic Arts and Sciences was ranked 4th among fine arts schools offering graduate degrees in photography. RIT offers two undergraduate degrees in photography with seven different areas of study, a minor in imaging systems and one graduate degree. You will have access to several photo collections including the RIT Art Collections which consists of works by students, faculty, and alumni

Facilities include over 30 fully equipped shooting studios, five computer labs, 35 dark rooms, and other labs that support all types of media for creative practices. Graduate students also have access to their own facilities. The school also has a gallery that showcases different projects done by students. These programs are offered:

  • BFA in Advertising Photography
  • BFA in Fine Art Photography
  • MFA in Imaging Arts, Photography and Related Media

Ten More Schools with Photography Degree Programs

College/University Institution Type LocationEstimated Undergrad In-State Tuition*
Grand Valley State University4-year, Public Allendale, MI$12,500
Kansas City Art Institute 4-year, Private Kansas City, MO$38,000
Pacific Northwest College of Art 4-year, Private Portland, OR$38,000
University of Houston 4-year, Public Houston, TX$9,000
Weber State University 4-year, Public Ogden, UT$6,000
California College of the Arts 4-year, Private San Francisco, CA$49,000
Memphis College of Art 4-year, Private Memphis, TN$33,000
Oklahoma Christian University 4-year, Private Edmond, OK$23,000
Massachusetts College of Art and Design 4-year, Public Boston, MA$13,000
Louisiana Tech University 4-year, Public Ruston, LA$10,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

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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