Bachelors Degrees in Photography

Earning a bachelor's degree in photography allows you to complete a formal higher education while gaining the specific skill sets needed to be a photographer. A bachelor's degree is especially useful if you one day decide to seek a high-level salaried photography job, such as in the competitive world of photojournalism, or if you wish to move on into graduate study in photography.


Most bachelor's degree programs are designed to take about four years to complete, but some students take longer if they do not take on a full course-load each semester due to work or personal obligations.

Because the majority of photographers are self-employed, not all of them necessarily need to earn a bachelor's degree to be successful. However, if you want an in-demand salary job such as a photo editor or a staff photographer for a major publication or corporation, a bachelor's degree may be required. If nothing else, having a bachelor's degree under your belt will make you a cut above the rest for many positions, provided your portfolio is solid. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) points out that photojournalists, industry photographers and scientific photographers will usually need a college degree to land the jobs they want.

Another good thing to remember is that those with bachelor's degrees make more money on average over their lifetime and have a lower unemployment rate on average than those without them, according to the BLS.

Aside from the career benefits you gain, many students find photography programs at the bachelor's level extremely gratifying because the four-year program gives students ample time to develop creative ideas and discover their photographic "voice." Professors foster this development by assigning students unique projects. One of these projects might involve challenging students to complete photo essays, where the student chooses a human interest topic or a profile subject and takes a series of photos relating to the subject, describing it in short paragraphs. This teaches students how to let their photos tell a story, which can help them with future careers in wedding and event photography and even photojournalism. Another of these projects might involve capturing a certain mood, such as love, fear or teamwork, which is valuable in teaching students how to strategically capture key moments.

You should research BFA programs in photography carefully to determine which one best suits your needs and interests. Some are highly competitive, such as those offered through NYU's Department of Photography & Imaging. Others are offered completely online such as the bachelor's programs offered through the Academy of Art University.