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Degree Overview: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degrees in Digital Photography

Majors Overview April 17, 2015

Get information about the skills that Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs in Digital Photography teach to students and their educational requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Information on Digital Photography Programs

Schools may offer programs in digital photography as a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program, but usually offer them as Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) programs. Some courses in digital photography may be available as a B.S. in Photography.

While both programs share courses, such as lighting and darkroom techniques, the B.F.A. program highlights a greater creative expression in digital photography with subjects such as image manipulation and color theory.

Students also learn about using a variety of computer software programs and about numerous types of photography. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma apart from possessing a digital camera and, in some schools, demonstrating a portfolio.

Bachelor’s Programs in Digital Photography

Many types of bachelor’s degree programs in digital photography are available to students depending on their career goals. Technical and business coursework is emphasized by a B.S. program. The development of design and creative skills is important in a B.F.A. or B.A. program.

All the degree programs related to digital photography teach students how to take photographs, work with them in a digital darkroom, make prints, and prepare them for demonstrating them to others. Topics covered include design skills, color theory, photo composition, and lighting. Students are expected to own their own digital SLR camera and tripod. Computer or software requirements necessary for students seeking to complete assignments and coursework are also available in some programs.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to most bachelor’s degree programs in digital photography to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma. Flexible admission guidelines are available at some schools, where applicants are considered on the basis of their ability to complete any work the program may require. Students enrolled in digital photography programs may have to submit a portfolio accompanying application materials.


Apart from foundational courses in lighting and photography techniques, classes specific to the technical and creative aspects of digital photography may also have to be completed, including topic areas such as:

•Web design concepts
•Image manipulation skills
•Principles of digital imaging
•Introduction to digital prepress
•Digital lab skills

Career Choices

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program in digital photography may seek entry-level jobs. While some may prefer to own their own studio or seek freelance assignments, others may aim for careers such as:

•Digital prepress operator
•School photographer
•Digital photo retoucher
•Photographer’s assistant
•Photo lab technician

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Programs in Photography

A broader understanding of photography is available through a B.S. in Photography, wherein coursework includes basic aesthetic and technical skills in digital and print photography. Coursework may be a combination of business skills and commercial art and focus on developing students’ creative vision. Students may learn technical skills such as studio techniques, editing, digital imaging, and lighting along with different types of photography related to documentary, news, nature, and fashion.

Students are required to possess a digital camera. A printer, lighting, lenses, and a scanner may also be requirements. Students enrolled in most programs are also required to complete a portfolio as part of the requirements of the degree program.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma and may, in some schools, include a minimum high school GPA standard.


General education courses augment core coursework that also includes the business aspect of photography and covers topic areas such as:

•Digital imaging techniques
•Image management
•Elements of studio photography
•Photographic lighting
•Photography on location
•Color photography
•Photo criticism
•History of photography
•Photo editing

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, job growth rate of four percent have been predicted for photographers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $28,490.

Career Choices

Digital and freelance photographers may enjoy more job opportunities in the future thanks to the growth of Internet media, such as online magazines and news. However, the job market could become more competitive on the back of declining prices of relevant digital technology and software advancements in general. Specialized skills,- including technical proficiency, and work experience could enhance the career opportunities for a photographer.

Continuing Education Choices

The Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Photography or Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) in Digital Photography may be available for bachelor’s degree holders that seek continuing education.

Studio management courses are augmented by advanced classes in illustration, image processing, composition, and lighting that address the artistic and business goals of students. A concentrated area of study, such as advertising photography, fine art, documentary, or fashion, may be available to students. A portfolio of their work is required to be put together by students enrolled in most programs. Students may avail both thesis and non-thesis options.

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