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5 Best Online Schools for a Bachelor’s in Photography Degree for 2021

Photography is an interesting subject that offers a creative outlet for individuals to capture the best moments of life and the world around them. Online photography degrees enable students to develop technical skills that they can use to bring their ideas into reality. If you have some interesting image ideas and want to work them out, a photography course.

Photographers are needed in numerous fields. Career prospects are good though, it is a competitive career. Learning to take great photographs under different lighting and scenic conditions is a skill that students can use in a multitude of ways. Enrolling in one of the top online photography schools is a step in the right direction if you wishe to pursue this career.

 

Featured Schools

The courses in best online photography degrees are designed to help students develop technical and creative skills. These in turn can help students succeed in different types of photography such as:

  • landscape photography
  • aerial photography
  • wildlife photography
  • sports or action photography
  • journalistic photography
  • architectural photography
  • portrait photography
  • wedding photography
  • fashion photography
  • event photography

Methodology

Tuition

  • Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points
  • Net Price Below $25,000: 2 points
  • Net Price Below $35,000: 1 point

20-Year Net ROI

  • Above 400,000 – 3 points
  • Above 300,000 –2 points
  • Above 200,000 – 1 point

Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item

Student Support Services for Music Students—1 point each

Wow Factor: awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us – 1 point

Ranking the Top 5 Online Bachelor’s in Photography Programs

In this article, we explore some of the top schools that offer online photography programs. Our editors applied the rating and ranking methodology above to rank these programs, using sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, PayScale, and each school’s website. In the case of a tie, the more affordable program was awarded the higher ranking.

#5—Savannah College of Art & Design

Savannah, Georgia

BFA in Photography Online

Website

Points: 2

5 Best Online Schools for a Bachelor's in Photography Degree: Savannah College of Art & Design

The online bachelor’s in photography offering from Savannah College of Art & Design is a versatile BFA program featuring three distinct concentrations:

  • Fine Art Photography
  • Documentary Photography
  • Commercial Photography

The major curriculum for the program requires 75 credit hours of coursework, including classes such as:

  • History of Photography: Invention and Expansion
  • Camera Exploration and Technique
  • Scanning and Printing the Color Image
  • Business Practices for Photography

Depending on the concentration they select, students will take additional courses such as:

  • Advertising Photography: Creating Demand with Image
  • Developing a Photographic Aesthetic
  • Professional Practices in Fine Art Photography
  • Photojournalism, Media, and Culture

SCAD holds institutional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to confer the online bachelor of photography credential.

Undergraduate Tuition: $38,075

#4—Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

Online BA in Digital Photography

Website

Points: 4

5 Best Online Schools for a Bachelor's in Photography Degree: Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University’s online bachelor of photography option is a Bachelor of Arts program in Digital Photography. The curriculum for the 120-credit hour program includes a strong liberal arts foundation and emphasizes technical photography applications. Major courses required for the degree include:

  • Photographic Aesthetic Concepts
  • Media Communication and Visual Literacy
  • Digital Narratives and Documentary
  • Photographic Practice in the Digital Age

A portfolio in Digital Photography is also required for successful program completion. The New England Commission of Higher Education has accredited SNHU to award the bachelor of photography degree online. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the university among the top 75 best value schools in the nation.

Undergraduate Tuition: $31,136

#3—Lindenwood University

St. Charles, Missouri

Online BFA in Art and Design: Photography

Website

Points: 4

5 Best Online Schools for a Bachelor's in Photography Degree: Lindenwood University

The robust online bachelor’s of photography program from Lindenwood University is a BFA in Art and Design with an emphasis in Photography. The 78-credit hour curriculum for the program includes foundation courses such as:

  • History of Western Art to 1300
  • Introduction to Art and Design
  • Visual Storytelling
  • Digital Photography

Students enrolled in the program will also take emphasis-specific classes, including:

  • Printmaking
  • Arts Entrepreneurship
  • Digital Photography II
  • Painting

Lindenwood University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to confer the online photography bachelor’s credential. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the university among the leading colleges and universities in the country for an online bachelor’s degree.

Undergraduate Tuition: $18,100

#2—Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design

Lakewood, Colorado

Online BFA in Photography

Website

Points: 5

5 Best Online Schools for a Bachelor's in Photography Degree: Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

The top bachelor’s in photography online program from Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design is a BFA offering designed for self-driven students. The curriculum for the program consists of 123 credit hours of coursework, including classes like:

  • Commercial Photography
  • Digital Imaging
  • Cinematography
  • Visual Storytelling

In addition to the core curriculum, students will complete courses aligned with one of two available concentrations:

  • Commercial Photography
  • Photojournalism/Documentary

RMCAD holds accreditation from both the Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Art & Design.

Undergraduate Tuition: $19,670

#1—Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Online BFA: Digital Photography

Website

Points: 8

5 Best Online Schools for a Bachelor's in Photography Degree: Arizona State University

Offered through the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the top online bachelor’s in photography degree program from Arizona State University is a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Digital Photography. Emphasizing contemporary expressive photography, the 120-credit hour offering is comprised of 40 total classes, including:

  • Art from Prehistory Through Middle Ages
  • History of Photography
  • Introduction to New Media
  • Advanced Digital Photography

Students enrolled in the program can also select elective classes from options such as:

  • New Genres in Digital Photography
  • Photo Editing: Narrative/Non-Narrative
  • The Still and Moving Image: Digital Photography and Video
  • Death and Photography

A capstone project in Digital Photography is also required before graduation. ASU is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award this online bachelor of photography credential. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the top 10 colleges and universities in the nation for an online bachelor’s degree.

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,338

What is photography?

Photography is the art of capturing professional-quality images that can be used for a broad range of applications. While it is true that everyone these days can click pictures by using their mobile phones, a professional photographer has skills that a layman does not possess. They know more techniques to enhance or manipulate an image via software that is not available in the regular phone apps.
They are integral to various industries that need professional-level knowledge and expertise. For instance, they may work with an advertising agency and help sell different products and items. The pictures in these cases work as a visual medium of communication. Along with carefully crafted messages that go with them, the images are used for optimal brand impact. Many corporates prefer to have an in-house photographer or have one on contract for their digital marketing needs.
Industries like wedding and party planning rely heavily on their photographers to make a difference in every project. A bride and groom may want their wedding pictures taken by a professional photographer so that they can enjoy them for many years to come. Along with the regular photoshoots, companies may also want unique shots for mandatory social media posts. Other popular photography professions include:

  • fashion photography
  • architectural photography
  • photojournalism
  • crime-scene photography
  • sports photography, among others


In an era of digital living, photography is an integral part of social sharing. The demand for photographers has increased the demand for photography degrees online that working adults can pursue at their own pace. Leading photography colleges offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs that can teach students about:

  • camera and lighting
  • use of props
  • aesthetics and settings
  • mood photography
  • other critical lessons that can help a budding photographer develop his or her skills.

Advanced Digital Photography

Advanced courses are designed to help students take digital photography skills to the next level. The curricula of these programs are designed to teach both technical and aesthetic mastery so that every shot sees success. They are geared towards training individuals for professional-level photography. However, it’s not uncommon to see passionate students enroll in such programs to pursue their hobbies. They learn which shooting or composition techniques will get the best results, and what kind of lighting will bring out the best effects on location. They are also taught advanced post-production skills like effective image correction, compositing, and retouching for outstanding prints.

Overview of Courses

Mastering the camera – The first step is to explore the advanced digital camera features with an in-depth look at the applications of the latest models. Some of the core areas of focus are:

  • four methods of focusing
  • special-purpose automatic exposure options
  • when to choose light meter settings
  • how to stabilize a camera
  • how to frame photos using different viewfinders and preview options.

Capstone projects include still-life, panoramic, location, action, candid, and photos along with exercises in retouching and printing.

Composition and Artistry – Students will learn some classic approaches to photography and explore different point-of-interest and structure within their compositions. They will learn to explore and control perspectives, including:

  • angle of view
  • point of view
  • horizons
  • vertical lines.

Along with some tried-and-true photographer’s tricks, students also learn about the role of texture, surfaces, and lighting, in creating contrast. Students also learn to explore techniques with special photography filters for group composites, creating panoramas, and black and white shots.

Mastering the locale – Photography at locations is an integral part of the profession, be it fashion photography or covering a war. There are specific programs that take a student through the technical and logistical challenges of the location shoot and what it means to adapt to different surroundings for work. Students learn:

  • what equipment to bring in preparation for location shots
  • how to store and keep the equipment safe
  • what special accessories are required
  • how to deal with unexpected or adverse conditions.

Post-production excellence – There are many aspects to fine post-production work, the first of which begins with the digital darkroom or Photoshop. These courses cover a range of skills like:

  • techniques for enhancing images in Camera Raw
  • basic color corrections
  • color correction and retouching
  • how to use a gray card
  • dramatize eyes
  • correct brightness and contrast
  • using the Healing Brush and Patch tools
  • creating high dynamic range (HDR) files

Further advanced areas include precision selections with Refine Mask and the Masks panel, applying non-destructive edits with smart objects and smart filters.

What are the career prospects of a person with a degree in photography?

There are several fields in which photographers can find work once they have completed their photography degrees online. A quick look at some of them.

Landscape photography: Landscape photographers are mainly known for capturing images of nature and landscapes such as:

  • deserts
  • mountains
  • sea beaches
  • cityscapes
  • other types of extensive landscapes.

They are often hired by publications and companies. They also work as freelancers and artists who showcase their work through galleries and exhibitions.

Aerial photography: Aerial photography involves taking a birds’ eye view images and videos from the air. They are mostly taken from drones, helicopters and small planes. They are used by various industries and government agencies as well. They are also employed by real estate companies that use them as dynamic media to help sell properties.

Wildlife photography: Wildlife photography involves taking pictures of wild animals and birds in their natural habitat. This is perhaps one of the most sought-after positions by passionate photographers and one that has garnered many awards over the years. Wildlife photography is as much about perseverance and adaptability as it is skill. Photographers travel to remote locations for those once-in-a-lifetime shots that often bring home the awards.

Sports or action photography: Sports photography is the type of photography that focuses on various types of sports like hockey and football. Action photography is very similar to it and can be used for action sports and activities. Sport photographers can work for sports channels, publications, and websites. They also work with the talent agencies that manage the players where they cover both the sports and the profiles of their subjects.

Photojournalism: Journalistic photography is reporting different types of news and events and often accompanies a story. Photojournalism can tell a story just by the power of the images captured, which has been proven by many Pulitzer winning journalists. It is said that an image is worth a thousand words. This is the reason why dramatic shots taken in a war zone, in famine-ridden countries, or shots that cover natural disasters have such a hard-hitting impact.

Architectural photography: Architectural photography involves artistic renditions of various buildings and structures. While most courses cover how to capture known architectural splendors, there are quite a few programs that focus on modern buildings. This is why they are also extensively used in the real estate industry, along with architectural firms. Architectural photographers often work with federal and state agencies in partnership with historical organizations. Students learn as much about exterior captures as they do about aesthetically pleasing interior photography.

Portrait photography: Portrait photography involves taking the portrait of an individual in various poses, with the help of different settings, lightings, and stylish techniques. The essence of a good portrait is to capture the true nature of the subject while representing him/her in the best light. It needs to be artistic, pleasing and thought-provoking at the same time. Portraits have been in demand for centuries and modern-day photography offers advanced renditions of this age-old phenomenon.

Wedding photography: Wedding photography involves different shots involved in a wedding event. A typical contract may span from the engagement to preparations, wedding day, reception, and all related events.

Event photography: Event photography covers different kinds of events such as a rock concert, a gala or a private event. It also includes:

  • weddings
  • birthdays
  • bar mitzvahs
  • graduations
  • anniversaries

Event photographers are in demand by the corporate sector for the different kinds of company events throughout the year.

Fashion photography: Fashion photography deals with modeling and the fashion industry and is one of the highest demand areas. It has its special techniques to display designer work and profile models.

What are the career prospects for a photographer?

The average annual salary of photographers was $36,280 in 2019 and the median hourly wage was $17.44. Individuals completing a degree from one of the top photography schools online have the option to pursue a full-time career or freelance as a photographer. Competition may be stiff. It may take time to grow into one’s career, but for the passionate and creative photographers the rewards are worth the work.

Related Rankings

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