The answer to the question as to why a person should get a photography degree is answered in a single word – competition. Many of the available photography jobs have multiple applicants, and combining your experience with a formal education resulting in a degree will give you an edge in the hiring decision. With the increase of digital technology use, demand for photographers is expected to increase by more than 10 percent over the next few years.
There are multiple options for people seeking to get a degree in photography online. The classes that are required to obtain an online photography degree will vary from school to school, but there are two main choices for the potential student. The first is to enroll in an accredited school, which means that the coursework completed and the degree you achieve will be accepted by most traditional colleges and universities. The credits earned at a non-accredited school may or may not be transferable to other schools or universities. This decision may affect your job search because the potential employer may not accept a particular school or degree program.
Typical Courses to Expect
The following general course subjects will be offered in a 4-year degree program:
- Photographic Design
- Color Theory
- Design Applications
- Digital Photography
- Digital Image Management
- Studio Photography
- Advanced Studio Techniques
- Business of Photography
- Creative Concepts
A selection or combination of News, Nature, Press, Figure/Fashion, and Architectural Photography
In most cases, financial aid is available to cover the costs of tuition and books. Being an online course, you will need access to a reliable Internet connection and computer to attend classes. Keep in mind that many courses will require the student to have their own photography equipment, and image editing software may also be required.
Before choosing what school to attend, you should have a clear goal for what you intend to do with your photography degree. There are Master and Doctoral degree programs available, however, your goal will determine the type of degree you will need to achieve.
Types of Online Photography Degrees
Photography schools online offer a number of degrees specific to your career goals. As many students discover, there are times you may consider a change in the focus of your career as you go through school. You can change you mind early on in the program and are likely not to have to make any drastic changes to your course selections. So make a decision at the beginning and be flexible to be willing to change your direction if that is the way your education takes you.
Beyond the general types of associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees, there are specific types of photography to specialize in online photography degrees.
Most of these specializations you are used to seeing in magazines or on the Internet.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing an online photography degree:
- An edge in the job market
- Internships to provide education and experience
- Transferability to other degree programs
- Likely to saddle you with student loan debt
- Lack of in-person guidance
- Equipment can be expensive
Who should take these classes
Anyone who has a desire to be a professional photographer and choose it as a career should be taking classes with the goal of achieving a degree. If you already have experience as an amateur photographer, you may find going to school will not only make you a better photographer, but prepare you to start making a good salary so that you can do what you have a passion for. If you have a degree in another field, such as advertising, the addition of an online photography degree can improve your upward mobility at your present job or prepare you for a new career.
About Distance Learning
Online education is a part of what is called distance learning. In the case of photography schools online, there is the basic requirement of a computer, but along with that is being the type of person who can learn independently from the presence of a teacher or classroom. Personal initiative is necessary to understand and complete the assignments on time, as well as going beyond the required class time to become thoroughly knowledgeable about your field.
- Allows for flexible scheduling around work hours
- Learn at your own pace
- Student can collaborate with classmates and gain from their experiences
- Demands time from your daily/weekly schedule
- Limited availability with instructor
- Can often require the student to find answers without adequate help
Remember that online classes are not suited for everyone. Each person needs to do a personal inventory to determine if they have the motivation not only to start the coursework, but to complete the degree requirements over a number of years. Managing work, school, and family can test a person’s limits, something which must be taken into consideration as well.
Online Schools for Photography
Here are some current photography schools online that offer online photography degrees.
The Academy of Art University has a separate School of Photography that characterizes itself as one of the best in the country.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Online Division, has associate and bachelor degrees as well as certificate programs to meet a wide range of student interests.
The Academy of Art University takes a hands-on approach to education from the first day of classes, immersing the student into the field immediately.
The Brooks Institute is a private school that offers a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts (BFA) with a specialization in Photography to equip the student with the combination of a classical degree and specialty.
St. Louis Community College has an associate degree in Photography that has a 25 credit hour core curriculum designed to prepare students for an advanced degree or entering the workforce.