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Best Online Schools for a Bachelor’s in Photography Degree for 2020

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.

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.

It’s important to note, however, that which online photography degrees you opt for, it should be accredited and recognized. In this article, we explore some of the top schools that offer online photography programs. They have been ranked in terms of high to low tuition rates.

Schools covered in this article include the following:

  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • American Intercontinental University
  • Columbus State Community College
  • Santa Barbara City College
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • New York Institute of Photography
  • Stratford Career Institute
  • The Photography Institute
  • Academy of Art University
  • Arizona State University
  • eCornell-Cornell University

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, Georgia

Online Bachelor of Arts in Photography


Savannah College of Art and Design or SCAD is a premium school of art. It provides both traditional and online degree programs for students interested in photography including the Bachelor of Arts in Photography. The programs are designed to meet various industry requirements. They include all the traditional theories as well as advanced technical skills. Students go on to practice in various industries as well as pursue successful freelance careers. The programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The other online photography programs SCAD offers include the Master of Arts in Photography and Master of Fine Arts in Photography.
Tuition per year:$37,575

American Intercontinental University

Schaumburg, Illinois

Online BFA in Media Production: Digital Film and Postproduction


The American Intercontinental University in Illinois offers an online BFA in Media Production: Digital Film and Postproduction. This program can provide students with a strong understanding of the basic and advanced knowledge in post-production techniques along with:

  • photography
  • editing
  • lighting

It makes use of cutting-edge methods and equipment to bring about successful post-production results. The curriculum aligns with the best industry standards. Some of the topics explored in this program include:

  • Camera and Lighting
  • Production Techniques
  • Film and Audio Aesthetics and Postproduction
  • Pitching and Project Management.

The 180-credit program is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Tuition per year:$29,250

Academy of Art University

San Francisco, California

Online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography


The Academy of Art University is regarded as one of the most prestigious educational institutions to offer photography programs, including the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. The advanced curriculum and exceptional training help students develop skills they need to become successful photographers. Students can choose from various photography degrees online. Other popular programs include:

  • Online Award of Completion in Photography
  • Associate of Arts in Photography
  • Master of Arts in Photography
  • Master of Fine Arts in Photography.

The programs are accredited by:

  • the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
  • Tuition per year:$$26,147

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

Online Bachelor in Digital Photography


The Southern New Hampshire University is regarded as one of the best online schools for photography. The Bachelor in Digital Photography covers crucial areas like:

  • digital camera operation
  • post-production image editing
  • lighting
  • refining visual literacy.

Topics that are covered in this program include:

  • the business of photography
  • aesthetic concepts in photography and graphics
  • layout in print media.

Taught by industry-leading faculty, courses also delve into humanities and the business aspects of professional photography. These areimportant for those who wish to go into business. The 120-credit program is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and College.
Tuition per year:$19,200

Santa Barbara City College

Santa Barbara, California

Online Associate in Graphic Design and Photography


Santa Barbara City College offers an online Associate in Graphic Design and Photography with courses that seamlessly balance design and technology. Students can work with different kinds of subjects like:

  • publication design
  • electronic media
  • photojournalism
  • typographic design
  • advertising illustration photography
  • color management

The programs encourage students to open their minds up the infinite possibilities of creative photography. They have produced some of the best photographers in the industry over the years. The program is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Students go on to work as:

  • production coordinators
  • information designers
  • visualization designers
  • publications designers
  • freelance graphic designers.

Tuition per year:$14,861

Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art in Digital Photography



Arizona State University offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art in Digital Photography. It blends the core functions of a studio practice-based degree with the flexibility of online learning. The program is designed to teach students the fundamental aesthetic, conceptual and technical aspects of digital photography. Students focus on creative and expressive photography which fosters the development of sophisticated visual literacy. They are also encouraged to explore unique creative practices and introduce their new ideas in class. Some of the core topics in the 120-credit curriculum include :

  • Photography Now
  • Digital and Advanced Digital Photography
  • Introduction to New and Digital Media
  • History of Photography.

Tuition per year:$$11,278

Columbus State Community College

Columbus, Ohio

Online Associate of Applied Science in Digital Photography


Columbus State Community College offers several specialized degree programs including the Online Associate of Applied Science in Digital Photography. The curriculum covers a wide range of areas, including creative and technical aspects of photography. Students are encouraged to cultivate their unique creative side when it comes to being a professional photographer. The online courses offer a rich foundation for students to enhance their skills. Photography programs offered here include:

  • Advanced Photoshop for Photographers Certificate
  • Basic Digital Photography Certificate
  • Basic Photoshop for Photographers Certificate
  • Business of Photography Certificate
  • Digital Photography Associate of Applied Science
  • Intermediate Digital Photography Certificate
  • Intermediate Photoshop for Photographers Certificate.

These programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Tuition per year:$4,738

eCornell-Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Online Digital Photography Certificate Program


Cornell University offers an online Digital Photography Certificate Program via its eCornell Platform. The intensive and practical program teaches students the fundamentals of photography, along with its finer techniques. These will help prepare them to become successful commercial and artistic photographers. The curriculum covers key areas of digital photography like:

  • camera selection and mechanics
  • lighting
  • digital asset management
  • style and expression through photography
  • professional photography
  • building a photography studio.

Students are encouraged to innovate with techniques to get to the results they desire. The practical photographic project encourages them to demonstrate their skills and create a memorable portfolio.

The Photography Institute

San Francisco, California

Online Diploma in Professional Photography


The Photography Institute offers a Diploma Course in Professional Photography which provides students with the knowledge and advanced skills they need for a career in professional photography. The cutting edge and comprehensive curriculum has been designed by some of the best working photographers in their field. It covers all pertinent areas of photography. The online diploma program consists of 12 modules and 12 interactive assignments. One of the leading faculty members is George Seper, one of the top freelance photographers today. He shares with his students his vast knowledge and experience in the field. How also shows how to apply this knowledge in the different areas of photography. The Photography Institute is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and International Accreditation and Recognition Council.
Tuition per year:$999

Stratford Career Institute

Saint Albans, Vermont

Online Photography Program


Stratford Career Institute offers an online photography program that provides students with deep knowledge and understanding of the subject. The career-focused curriculum covers all the fundamental techniques associated with different styles and types of photography such as:

  • digital
  • portrait
  • film
  • spontaneous shooting.

Some of the topics covered in these programs include:

  • Basic Technical Concepts and Skills
  • Light Intensity and Distance, Light: How Images are Formed
  • Depth of Field & Focus
  • Image Stabilization
  • Digital and Film Cameras
  • Panoramic Joiners and Photomerge
  • Lighting Principles and Equipment

Students also explore the various Career Opportunities in Photography.
Tuition per year:$889

New York Institute of Photography

New York, New York

Online Photography Programs


The New York Institute of Photography is known for its photography programs, both traditional and online. It is the alma mater of some of the best photographers in the world. The programs offered here are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission and licensed by the New York State Education Department. The leading online photography offerings here include:

  • a Professional Photography Course
  • a Portrait Photography Course
  • Fundamentals of Digital Photography
  • a Wedding Photography Course
  • Photoshop for Photographers
  • a Photojournalism Course
  • Nature & Landscape Photography Course
  • a Travel Photography Course
  • a Video Making Course
  • Graphic Design Course

Tuition per year:$629

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 the use of 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 kinds of 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 are heavily reliant 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 the 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 often 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 $34,000 in 2018 and the median hourly wage was $16.35. 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.

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