Top 10 Affordable Online Photography Certificate Programs 2024

Key Takeaways:

  • Our #1 school for affordable online photography certificates is the New York Institute of Photography, followed by UC Berkeley Extension.
  • Whether getting a certificate in photography is worth it depends on several factors, including your goals, current skill level, and what you hope to achieve with the certificate.
  • A photography certificate offers benefits such as structured learning, skill development, portfolio building, networking opportunities, and increased credibility.
  • A few things to consider are the program’s cost, time commitment, and career goals. Some possible lower-cost alternatives are online tutorials, workshops, and instructional books.

Photography is a competitive field. Pursuing a certificate is a good way for aspiring photographers to improve their photography skills and set themselves apart. Professionals know that just having a decent digital camera is not nearly enough. Certification programs will add technical experience, and specialized certifications have many options to tailor to individual areas of interest. Earning the certificate online is ideal, allowing for flexibility in both location and scheduling. If, after earning your certificate, you decide you want to study more, you could earn your photography degree online. We also have an article to help you decide if earning that photography degree is worth it.

To assemble our list of the top ten affordable online photography certificate programs, we searched extensively online to find the right programs. The resulting list of schools was ranked according to the cost of the program.

Featured Programs

Reviewing the Cheapest Online Photography Programs

10. University of Washington

Seattle, Washington
Certificate in Photography Online

University of Washington logo


The University of Washington offers an affordable online certificate in photography that can be completed in just nine months. This three-course certificate program offers both evening and weekend classes. Students will gain the skills needed to help develop an artistic or commercial career in photography. The curriculum incorporates the extensive hands-on practice and aims to help students develop a better understanding of their own personal style as they enter the photography field.

Tuition: $4,650

9. Otis College of Art and Design Extension

Los Angeles, California
Photography Online Certificate

Otis College of Art and Design Extension logo


The online photography program at Otis Extension is made up of five core courses and five elective courses. This sequence of 10 courses is designed to offer training in the technical and creative skills needed to enter the commercial or fine art fields of photography. Graduates will be fully prepared to begin freelance work with the necessary knowledge of cameras, lighting, aesthetics, printing, and editing.

Tuition: $5,050

8. UCLA Extension

Los Angeles, California
Online Photography Certificate

UCLA Extension logo


UCLA Extension offers many affordable online certificates, including a photography certificate. This program consists of five required courses and one elective. Students have the flexibility to begin the program during any semester of the year, and the program is usually completed in one year for part-time students. The curriculum offers a solid foundation in the:

  • technical and visual aspects of digital photography
  • emphasizing digital image capture
  • editing
  • composition
  • the fundamentals of lighting

Tuition: $4,734

7. University of California San Diego

La Jolla, California
Professional Certificate in Photography Online

UC-San Diego logo


UC San Diego offers an online photography certificate with a concentrated study in the photographic arts. The program takes 15-27 months to complete and consists of five required courses and five elective courses. This purposefully flexible program allows students to choose an area of concentration and enroll in electives that help to fulfill personal interests and goals. The certificate program focuses specifically on enhancing creativity and technical abilities, as well as the final product, a portfolio of finished photographs.

Tuition: $3,290

6. Valdosta State University

Valdosta, Georgia
Certificate in Digital Photography Online Program

Valdosta State University - logo


The photography certificate at Valdosta State is an affordable option for those looking to complete their program entirely online. Students must complete five classes and are able to work at their own pace to finish the required courses within an 18-month period. The curriculum consists of a course in mastering digital photography, an elective in photo editing, and three additional electives chosen to best accommodate the student’s individual interests and goals. All of the course options are available online.

Tuition: $2,730

5. The New School Parsons School of Design

New York, New York
Certificate in Digital Photography Online

The New School Parsons School of Design


The New School Parsons offers an affordable online photography certificate that can be completed in just six to nine weeks. Students will need to complete three courses to graduate from the program. These courses include:

  • Introduction to Digital Photography
  • Photography Composition Study
  • Photography Workflow

Students will learn about the camera and the history of image-making so as to understand ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds as well as workflow, composition, and storytelling.

Tuition: $1,570

4. Cornell University

Ithaca, New York
Certificate in Digital Photography Programs Online

Cornell University logo


The online certificate in photography program at Cornell University explores how to visualize the world as a photographer. This affordable program consists of seven two-week online courses designed to be completed in a specific order, allowing students to graduate from the program in just four months. During the course of study, students will create a photographic project that can stand on its own as a portfolio, exhibition, job, or assignment. The program also teaches how to manage the commercial business elements of the photography profession.

Tuition: $1,499

3. UC Berkeley Extension

Berkeley, California
Specialized Program in Digital Photography Online

UC Berkeley Extension logo


UC Berkeley offers an online certificate in photography that explores the essentials of digital imaging. This affordable program helps students to deepen their understanding of the aesthetics and pictorial strategies of photography. The six-semester unit curriculum consists of two required courses and one elective, and all courses are available through the live online format. The program provides students with the opportunity to expand perceptual awareness and technical range so as to produce images that express their own artistic vision.

Tuition: $1,485

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1. New York Institute of Photography

New York, New York
Accredited Photography Certificate Programs Online

New York Institute of Photography logo


NYIP offers accredited and affordable online photography courses. Students receive a certificate upon the completion of any of the courses offered. All online certificate courses and programs are accredited by the DEAC and licensed by the New York State Education Department. Online course/certificate options include:

  • professional photography
  • portrait photography
  • wedding photography
  • photojournalism
  • travel photography

Tuition: $649

CVO Staff