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Factors to Consider When Selecting a Graduate School for Photojournalism

Higher Education Articles June 19, 2015

Those interested in combining the reporting and research skills of journalism with visual communication and photography skills in order to record events visually should look into photojournalism. Many universities in the U.S. offer graduate programs in photojournalism at the professional level.

Selecting a Graduate School for Photojournalism

Those who want to pursue careers in photojournalism must acquire knowledge of photography principles, including location selection and proper lighting, digital photography and location selection. Working knowledge of journalism fundamentals is also needed; these include research and reporting skills, media publishing techniques, and newspaper ethics and laws.

Programs that teach photography or journalism individually are more common than graduate degree programs in photojournalism. Coursework is often a combination of photojournalism and commercial photography, emphasizing communications and new media applications.


Many aspects of photography are in photojournalism degree programs, and research may have to be done by students to identify those who are compatible with their interests. The focus of some programs is on the computer editing and technical aspects of producing photos; while the focus of other programs is on the graphic and artistic generation of images.

Electives that can vary by degree allow students to focus on practical applications, such as distribution, computer editing, and the use of various equipment, or art skills and enhanced media.

Portfolio Development and Practical opportunities

Programs chosen by students should emphasize portfolio development and improvement, accompanied by opportunities for hands-on experience through seminars and internships.

Students are often required by photojournalism departments to own basic equipment including a professional-level camera, a tripod, and alternate lenses before they are allowed to enroll.

Experience in the development of a photojournalism project is obtained by program graduates. These include aspects such as the selection of lighting and location for a photo shoot and editing and distribution of the finished product in keeping with media and newspaper guidelines.

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Photojournalism

The primary emphasis of an MA in Photojournalism is on the creative and artistic elements of photojournalism. Students opt for fine arts courses within the photojournalism curriculum, which allows them to gain a diverse set of artistic skills. Classes often cover topic areas such as:

•Publication design
•Interactive media
•Graphic design
•Commercial photography

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Visual Communications

Students enrolled in MA in Visual Communications programs are given substantial training in photojournalism principles, such as ethical considerations, photo composition, and multimedia production. Students are given additional experience in the skills necessary for pursuing a career as a photojournalist through an emphasis in photojournalism; these include picture editing, commercial photography, publication design, and graphic design. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Communication laws
•Media applications
•Journalism integrity

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