Best Online Bachelor’s in Photography Programs of 2021

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

August 23, 2021

Share on Social

Through lighting, composition, color, and editing, photographers take the ordinary and make it extraordinary by memorializing glimpses in time through their photos. A photography career requires creativity, technical savvy, and business acumen. An online bachelor's in photography can teach the skills professional photographers need to compete in the global marketplace.

Graduates can pursue careers as freelancers, studio owners, and photographers for magazines and marketing agencies. Some may work as fashion photographers or fine art photographers. Others may choose careers in forensics or photojournalism. According to PayScale, graduates with a bachelor of arts in photography earned an average annual salary of about $54,860 as of July 2021. Top earners reported annual wages above $106,000.

2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Photography Programs

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Savannah College of Art and Design View School Profile Savannah, GA

SCAD is a Georgia-based private art college that offers undergraduate and graduate online photography degrees. Students interested in an online bachelor's in photography can select from both BA and BFA degree options.

In addition to general education requirements, course requirements for this online bachelor's in photography include advanced digital imaging, business practices for photography, and history of photography. All degree-seekers select a concentration in commercial, documentary, or fine art photography. BFA learners also tackle foundational studies in drawing, color theory, and design.

Applicants must submit high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and letters of recommendation. Prospective students must also submit a resume and statement of purpose and complete an interview.

Southern New Hampshire University View School Profile Manchester, NH

SNHU offers an online bachelor's in photography that eliminates all on-campus requirements. Focusing on the theoretical, technical, and professional elements of photography, the program also provides learners with foundational knowledge in the humanities and business.

Alongside general education requirements, students complete core courses in digital photography, lighting for photography, and photographic aesthetic concepts. Learners must complete 120 credits to graduate. The program delivers coursework both synchronously and asynchronously. All students pay the same tuition rate no matter where they live.

SNHU does not require applicants to submit standardized test scores and waives all application fees. Transfer students may bring up to 90 credits with them when they enroll.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Photography Program?

Photographers work in a competitive industry. Success in this field often requires a keen imagination, an eye for details, patience, and a passion for the art. Since many photographers own their own businesses or work as freelancers, these professionals also may need an understanding of business, marketing, and the latest advancements in digital technology.

An online bachelor's in photography can teach students the skills needed to pursue careers as freelancers, photojournalists, commercial photographers, and aerial or drone photographers. While each area of this field features its own specific processes, all photographers should learn the foundations of their craft, including composition, exposure, and lighting.

Most online bachelor's in photography programs require about 120 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete. Some programs culminate in a capstone project and provide valuable internship opportunities. Throughout the program, students develop a professional portfolio that can help prepare them for the job market.

Because of the broad nature of photography, many programs offer specializations that allow students to direct their studies to their area of interest. Below are a few possible concentrations.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Photography Program?

Digital Photography

This course covers the technical aspects of photography, including advanced Photoshop techniques, retouching, and color correction. Course topics may include digital printing, digital imaging, and digital camera controls, such as exposure and light meters. Students may also learn the computer's role as the new darkroom.

Lighting

Students learn about outdoor and indoor lighting. They can develop the skills needed to balance natural and artificial light and use illumination and shadow to bring an object's essence into focus. Topics covered in this course include advanced digital retouching, creating an intended mood, and lighting applications for set design.

Visual Storytelling

This course explores the use of lighting, composition, and viewpoint to tell a story. Learners can discover how to introduce the unexpected and develop a mood and narrative that elicits an emotional reaction and creates memorable images. Additional course topics may cover ways to connect with the intended audience and storyboarding essentials.

Composition

This course prepares students to see the world through a camera lens. It covers framing and background concepts. Students also learn composition rules and techniques. These can include the golden ratio or Fibonacci spiral, coherence, and negative space. Visual exercises can help learners see Earth's natural designs and their role in perfecting images.

Business Practices for Photography

In this course, students can learn the art of self-promotion, including creating and building their brand and developing an expanding clientele. Course topics include portfolio development, accounting basics, and marketing strategies. Students also learn about the legal aspects of the business, such as how to license works and fill out release forms.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Photography Degree?

Graduates with a bachelor's in photography can pursue careers at portrait studios and in the broadcasting and publishing fields. Many specialize in specific photography niches, such as portrait, landscape, documentary, and fine art. According to PayScale, graduates with a bachelor of fine arts in photography earned an average annual salary of about $58,240 as of July 2021.

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 4% job decline for photographers between 2019 and 2029, individuals with a strong portfolio and skills in editing and capturing digital video can still find success. Additionally, newer technologies, such as drone photography, may also lead to increased demand in niche areas of the field.

See where a bachelor's in photography can take you. Learn more about photography careers.

Advertising Photographer

Advertising photographers may work for marketing agencies, design firms, or publishers. They create the photographs used in marketing campaigns. Depending on the company, they may shoot models, products, businesses, or locations. These professionals need knowledge in brand awareness and target markets.

Drone Photographer

Drone photographers may work in the commercial sector, taking pictures of buildings and landscapes for real estate and construction companies or government agencies. This type of photography is also becoming popular at special events like weddings and concerts. Photographers who commercially operate drones must obtain licensure from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Fashion Photographer

Fashion photographers take photos that highlight models and the clothes they wear. They may work for fashion designers, fashion magazines, or as freelancers. Regular tasks include setting up the lighting and location, suggesting poses, editing photos, and ensuring images portray the brand.

Photojournalist

Photojournalists, also called news photographers, take pictures and videos of newsworthy events happening locally or worldwide. These photographers may work for magazines, newspapers, websites, or as freelancers. These professionals can take photographs that record political news stories, sporting events, or investigative features.

Portrait Photographer

Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals and groups of people in their studio or on location, such as at a client's home. Some of these professionals also take photos for weddings and schools or of family pets. Others specialize in headshots for actors, models, business leaders, and writers.

Photography Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Photography Programs

true Is a bachelor's in photography worth it?

This degree is worth it for many aspiring photographers. While not all photographers earn a bachelor's in photography, those who do can develop the latest technical and professional skills needed to achieve success. The internships, networking, and professional portfolio students can complete during their program may help them break into a competitive market.

true How much does it cost to get a bachelor's in photography?

Costs for an on-campus or online bachelor's in photography vary based on the type of school, a student's residency status, and the educational format. The College Board reports that, for the 2020-2021 academic year, in-state students paid an average annual tuition of $10,560 at public colleges, while out-of-state students paid $27,020. Students attending private schools paid an average annual tuition of $37,650.

true Are photography majors in high demand?

Photographers face a competitive job market. The BLS projects that those applying new technologies, such as drone photography, may experience increased demand. Portrait photographers may see steady demand, as should commercial photographers who work in advertising and marketing.

true How much money can I make with a bachelor's in photography?

According to PayScale, individuals with a bachelor of arts in photography earned an average annual salary of about $54,860, with reported salaries ranging from roughly $31,000-$106,000, as of July 2021. Additionally, photo editors earned an average wage of about $54,450, while commercial photographers made about $48,300.

true What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in photography?

While salaries vary based on location and experience, as of July 2021, PayScale reported that freelance photographers earned an average hourly rate of about $25.20, while the top 10% of earners boasted an hourly pay above $121.60.

The president confirmed free community college had been scrapped from his Build Back Better plan and proposed an increase in Pell Grant payments instead. Trade education is on the rise. Colleges should embrace transferrable and stackable credentials so students can transition easily between educational paths. Discover the strategies college students with disabilities can use to determine a career path, search for a job, and navigate barriers to employment.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.