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Diploma Programs to become a Master Photographer Overview

Majors Overview February 12, 2016

Although diploma programs in photography are not common, students can get the necessary photography skills through associate’s, bachelor’s, and certificate programs.

Information on Master Photographer Programs

Several years of practice can lead to a career as a master photographer; however, interested individuals can acquire the skills necessary to becoming a master photographer via various photography degree programs. Schools offer photography training in various forms, including certificate and bachelor’s degree programs. Schools often require incoming students to possess a camera; other prerequisites can vary by school. Portfolio building, studio practice, and darkroom assignments are devised to impart hands-on training. Program coursework may cover other topic areas of learning such as Photoshop, digital printing, and the photography business.

Undergraduate Certificate Programs in Photography

Enrollees in certificate programs can seek entry-level photography positions. Students can gain skills in the use of digital and film cameras, photography business basics, and basic general and studio. They may also create their portfolio.


Program coursework typically covers the basics of photography and often combines the use of digital and traditional film platforms. Hands-on training in taking photographs are available to students who may work to create their portfolio of work. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Portrait photography
•Digital printing
•Understanding light
•Digital Photography
•Digital imaging workflow

Associate’s Programs in Photography

Trade schools and 2-year community colleges are among those that offer associate’s degree programs. Students are taught the theory and principles of their craft while they develop their photography skills. In many programs, traditional photography techniques are combined with digital photography and students are required to own both a film and a digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera. Expertise is available for students in digital photo manipulation and printing, as well as the development of traditional film in a wet darkroom.


Program coursework is devised to cover career-relevant skills in the areas of wedding, commercial, and portrait photography. Schools also offer additional courses in advertising, photojournalism, and commercial photography. Basic business courses are in the curriculum of some programs. Students are taught about operating lights, cameras, and computer software while honing their skills in aesthetics. Core coursework is devised to teach the theory and principles of photography, and covers topic areas such as:

•Industrial photography
•Studio lighting
•Photo composition and design
•History of Photography

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek entry-level positions in the industry as photography retail sales clerks or photographer’s assistants. Freelance photographer positions may be available to those with additional experience and a well-developed portfolio.

Bachelor’s Programs in Photography

Full-time students may take four years to complete bachelor’s degree programs that offer a choice of various concentrations such as fine art, fashion, photojournalism, and commercial and architectural photography. Students can expect to gain expertise in the technical aspects of photography and find their artistic identities.


Program coursework is devised to impart a broad liberal arts education and includes general education courses as well as photography courses. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Studio lighting
•Darkroom practices
•Imagery and design
•Introduction to Photography
•Photo manipulation

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a three percent job growth is expected for photographers, including freelance photographers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The expected growth is due to an anticipated increase in online media requiring digital images, as well as a rise in population. In May 2012, photographers brought in an average annual wage of $30,490 (BLS).

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