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Master of Photography Degree Program Overview

Majors Overview February 23, 2016

This article talks about master’s degree programs in photography and their coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master of Photography Programs

Students enrolled in master’s degree programs in photography are allowed to hone further the artistic and technical skills necessary for working as either a teacher or practicing photographer. Photography skills are developed by program graduates via studio work, seminars, and graduate teaching assistant opportunities. The emphasis of an intensive 2-year Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Photography program is on creativity and research related to the conceptual, technical, and aesthetic facets of photography. Bachelor’s degrees in photography or a related field are expected to be held by incoming students.

Schools may also consider those who hold degrees in unrelated fields if they have extensive work experience in photography. Incoming students may also have to submit curriculum vitae showcasing exhibitions and artistic work, in addition to artist statements or letters of intent, portfolios and letters of recommendation. Some schools may insist on participation in a personal interview. A public exhibition of students’ work and presentation of a formal written thesis are usually requirements toward the end of a program.


Academic advisors assist students in graduate photography programs to tailor their coursework in accordance with personal interests. Computer courses are available in many programs oriented towards artists; these courses cover topics in networking, programming, and operating systems. Schools conduct the majority of graduate level courses in the form of seminars that covers aesthetics, Japanese art, and criticism. Students will spend a large amount of time in the studios working to produce images for their portfolios. Seminars may typically cover:

•Visual effects
•Technical photography
•Photography criticism
•Art history
•Photography and Media

Job and Wage Outlook

Photographers, including freelance photographers, are expected to see a three percent job growth, over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, photographers brought in an average annual wage of $30,490 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education may enhance their skills by earning graduate certificate programs offered through some universities and colleges. Their creativity is expanded as they gain experience in electronic photo editing and manipulation.

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