To become a photographer, the right education and training are needed. Since most photographers work freelance and in particular areas of photography, choosing the right online program and school helps tailor career goals. If you plan to work as a wedding photographer, you will want to take classes that prepare you for this particular career. Thankfully, online photography degree programs and classes are available, even in niche areas of photography.
15 Best Online Photography Degree Programs Methodology
Our initial pool of schools included 35 selections. We narrowed our original pool of schools by taking into consideration the acceptance rate of each institution. We then determined accreditation and the number of online photography degree programs offered. In addition to selectivity, accreditation, and number of online programs, we evaluated cost and sufficient financial aid assistance. Since some of the schools on our list offer rolling admission and a one-hundred percent acceptance rate, we evaluated the nature of the coursework and complexity of curriculum to help us determine school placement and ranking.
Below are the 15 best online schools for photography.
#15 – Academy of Art University
San Francisco, California
Online associate’s, BFA, master’s, MFA, and certificate in photography
Listed as one of the best online schools for photography, Academy of Art University offers rolling admission and a one-hundred percent acceptance rate. The institution is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and WASC Senior College and University Commission. Through careful mentorship and guidance, Academy of Art University offers online degrees and certificates in photography. In fact, online degree options include the associate, BFA, master’s, MFA, and certificate in photography.
As an accredited institution, Academy of Art University graduates successful art and photography students destined for transition into an art career. Graduates gain success thanks to the Academy of Art University thanks to the network of AAU professors, fellow students, and alumni. Some graduates have even credited alumni connections with gainful employment following graduation.
In addition to accreditation, AAU has received rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a regionally ranked institution in the West. Also, the online bachelor’s programs, including online photography degrees, have received rankings of #264-#348 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.
#14 – American Intercontinental University
Online Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Media Production – Digital Film and Post Production
Individuals seeking online photography degree programs, including a BFA, should consider American Intercontinental University. With rolling admission and a one-hundred percent acceptance rate, getting into art school is no problem. However, fortitude, drive, and talent will make you successful on your endeavors. AIU, accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, offers one online degree for those interested in film and photography.
The online BFA in media production with a specialization in digital film and post production is open to applicants with a high school diploma and proficiency in math and English. A total of 180 credits are required for fulfillment of degree stipulations. Students take online courses taught by AIU faculty. These courses include advanced digital cinematography, audio production, camera and lighting, field recording techniques, film and audio aesthetics, and postproduction recording. Graduates acquire a strong understanding of photography, film, and production. Thanks to the comprehensive education received at AIU, students gain positions with many industry departments and become valuable assets in film and photography.
AIU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top institution. Additionally, the online bachelor’s programs at AIU rank #200 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.
#13 – Columbus State Community College
Online Associate and Certificates in Digital Photography
Columbus State Community College is one of the few community colleges out there that serve as an online photography school. As do most community colleges, Columbus State offers rolling admission and a 100 percent acceptance rate. The only criteria for admission are a high school diploma, an adequate high school transcript, and SAT or ACT scores.
For individuals seeking a degree in photography with online options, Columbus State Community College offers an online associate’s in digital photography. In addition to the AA degree, an online certificate in digital photography is available. Upon enrollment, students immerse themselves in courses that pertain to digital photography. They gain a strong foundation and advanced knowledge in techniques, design, and business as they are related to the field. Graduates can expect to gain connections through the alumni network and mentorship of instructors.
Columbus State Community College has received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Also, the school has received rankings by U.S. News and World Report as a top community college. Due to the strong reputation Columbus State has received, the school earns a spot on our list of best online schools for photography.
#12 – Dakota College of Bottineau
Bottineau, North Dakota
Online AAS and Certificate in Photography
Dakota College of Bottineau is one of the best online schools for photography. The school offers an Associate of Arts and Science in photography, as well as a certificate in photography. Both programs are offered online. Students who take classes exclusively online will be guided to purchase their own lighting equipment and conduct all photography labs and assignments from home. While classes and learning objectives vary by program, students at Dakota College of Bottineau can expect to gain knowledge and demonstrate proficiency in photography. Students study branding policies, business practices in photography, marketing, pricing, printing processes, and portfolio making.
Dakota College of Bottineau has been in existence almost as long as the state of North Dakota. The college is one of eleven institutions in the North Dakota University System and is governed by the North Dakota State Board of Education. Also, the Higher Learning Commission accredits the school.
#11 – New York Institute of Photography
New York, New York
Online Photography Courses
The New York Institute of Photograph offers online photography courses designed to help when earning an online photography degree. The school offers a one-hundred percent acceptance rate and rolling admission. While it may be easy to get accepted, NYIP requires time and dedication to stay in good academic standing. The school is known for its low-cost tuition prices and highly affordable monthly payment plans. Students seeking an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in photography find affordable options for classes that are transferable to most online programs. Sample coursework in photography includes business for photographers, fundamentals of digital photography, nature and landscape photography, photojournalism, and wedding photography.
Students enrolled at NYIP also have the option of taking courses that lead to a specific photography certificate. While the school does not currently offer certificates, students gain insightful critique on their work while taking classes. Also, courses that are transferable help shorten the length of time it takes to earn a certificate or associate’s degree in photography. Graduates of classes at New York Institute of Photography gain a strong command of photography and are ready to make an impact in the art world.
#10 – Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
Online BFA in Cinematography, Commercial Photography, Digital Imaging, Photojournalism
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is a top online photography school, offering a 100-percent acceptance rate. The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in a number of photography-related disciplines. Students may earn a BFA in Photography with specializations in cinematography, commercial photography, digital imaging, drawing, lighting, or photojournalism. Programs help students develop a comprehensive portfolio that establishes expertise following graduation.
If you’re passionate about art and photography, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design wants you to get a jump start on your career. Even the admissions interview and application process are designed to help you succeed. Classes start throughout the year and are delivered online. Working students benefit from the flexible schedule that Rocky Mountain’s online programs offer.
In addition to being accredited, the school ranks among art schools recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Rocky Mountain offers affordable tuition, flexible online options for a bachelor’s degree, and has a rolling admission process. As a result, we selected Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design among the top online schools for photography.
#9 – San Joaquin Delta College
Online Associate’s in Photography
For individuals seeking an online photography degree that is both accredited and affordable, San Joaquin Delta College offers options. The photography AA degree (associate’s in photography online) prepares students with development of creative expression and visual awareness. The program also lays a foundation for acquiring technical skills needed in photography as a business and media platform. Students who major in photography and earn an associate’s degree in photography become career-ready or eligible to transfer to a four-year institution. The AA in photography is available online with classes taught by San Joaquin Delta College instructors. Two available certificates are also possible in areas like multimedia and photography.
San Joaquin Delta is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The school is also recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top ranked community college. As like most community colleges, San Joaquin offers rolling admission and a one-hundred percent acceptance rate.
#8 – Santa Barbara City College
Santa Barbara, California
Online Associate’s and Certificate in Photography
Santa Barbara City College, a public community college in Santa Barbara, California, offers a wide range of associate degree and certificate programs. It is one of the top online photography schools on our list and accepts everyone who applies. In fact, the one-hundred percent acceptance rate and rolling admission makes it a popular choice for busy students. Online options for those seeking an associate’s degree in photography are offered by Santa Barbara City College. Students may earn an associate’s degree or certificate in photography. Both programs offer online classes taught by the college’s experienced instructors.
For those seeking an AA degree, online options include the associate’s (AA) in applied photography. Courses are delivered online and cover topics like advanced photography and lighting strategies, color management, digital darkroom, introduction to photography, photojournalism, and travel and street photography. Fun and unique electives include children and pet photography, fine art copy work, and wedding and event photography. According to major publications like U.S. News and World Report, Santa Barbara City College ranks among the top community colleges. Also, the school and its programs are fully accredited.
#7 – Sessions College for Professional Design
Online Associate in Digital Photography
Sessions College for Professional Design ranks as one of the best online schools for photography. The associate’s in digital photography is a uniquely designed degree program that can be completed entirely online. The program is for high school graduates and adult learners looking to gain knowledge and skill in digital photography. It is an intensive, two-year degree for those seeking independent freelance photography careers. As indicated, courses are delivered online. These courses, taught by Sessions College instructors, cover a range of photography and digital photography topics. Courses include business and technical writing, color correction, color theory, history of photography, introduction to marketing, and narrative photography. Students will gain a working knowledge of the equipment and acquire production techniques.
Sessions College for Professional Design is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a top community college. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) accredits Sessions and its degree programs. Also, Sessions College is licensed by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. We rank Sessions College as the 5th best online school for photography on our list.
#6 – The Photography Institute
San Francisco, California
Online Courses in Photography
When searching for the top online photography schools and programs, we determined The Photography Institute to be among the top ranked colleges and universities. This online photography institution offers online diploma courses in all areas of photography. The school connects students with experience faculty through 12 online course modules. Each module focuses on an area of photography and prepares students with knowledge that can be applied to their work. Modules include cameras and lenses, equipment and software, exposure and metering, light and color, lighting, photography business and studio essentials, and refining the image process. The school is committed to provide high quality education through online instruction and student and teacher support systems.
In addition to quality classes, The Photography Institute offers low-cost tuition, accreditation, and a one-hundred percent acceptance rate. The International Accreditation and Recognition Council accredits the school, which is also recognized by the Better Business Bureau as a reputable institution. As far as affordability goes, The Photography Institute takes its budget-friendly promise to a new level, offering payment plans and a seven-day money-back guarantee.
#5 – Arizona State University
Online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art (Digital Photography)
Recognized by major publications as a top ranked national university, Arizona State University also ranks highly for its offerings of online photography degree programs. ASU offers an acceptance rate of 85 percent and photography degree options. In fact, the online Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art earns the school a top spot on our list. This BFA program may be completed entirely online by taking classes in digital photography. A total of 40 classes are required for the online BFA in Art (Digital Photography). Courses run seven weeks in length and cover a wide range of photography topics. Courses include advanced digital photography, digital photography, and photography now.
ASU is home to world-class artists and photographers. A large alumni network offers connections for students with individuals who’ve made an impact in the world of photography. Faculty emphasize a range of research areas and allow students to contribute to their findings. In fact, students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty, as research interests permit. Some possible areas of research include arts education and arts-integrated education, design and arts, and the study of creative work.
ASU offers a long history of quality education. Currently, ASU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 117th best national university. Also, the online bachelor’s programs, including online photography, rank #2 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.
#4 – Long Island University
Brookville, New York
Online BFA in Photography
With an acceptance rate of 76 percent and degree offerings like the online BFA in photography, Long Island University earns a top spot on our list of best online schools for photography. The online BFA in photography offers an exciting study in history, aesthetics, and the evolution of photography through the ages. Small class sizes taught by Long Island University professors, who are themselves award-winning photographers, deliver material designed to prepare students for professional careers. Some of the course topics include basic lighting techniques and aesthetics, digital large format printing, experimental and advanced techniques, and intermediate course in techniques and aesthetics.
Incoming freshman to the BFA in photography program must have a solid 3.0 GPA and an average of 1000 on the SAT or 20 on the ACT. To graduate with the BFA in photography, students must maintain a GPA of at least 2.00.
Long Island University, a private institution, ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 240th best national university. Other rankings include #328 in top performers on social mobility.
#3 – Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Online Bachelor’s in Digital Photography
With an acceptance rate of 73 percent, affordable tuition, and rankings with major publications like U.S. News and World Report, Southern New Hampshire University earns a top spot on our list of best online schools for photography. SNHU offers a bachelor’s in digital photography that can be completed entirely online. This flexible photography degree program is taught by SNHU instructors who have gained real-world experience. Online courses cover topics such as digital narratives and documentary, digital photography, innovations in digital imaging, media communication and visual literacy, and photographic aesthetic concepts. While courses are delivered online, students are expected to have at-home equipment. These equipment needs include a DSLR camera, lighting kit, and tripod. Required software includes the full Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.
SNHU is a reputable and accredited institution. In fact, New England Association of Schools and Colleges accredits the institution. In addition to accreditation, SNHU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 92nd best regional university in the North and the number 1 most innovative school. SNHU earns a top 3 spot on our list of best online schools for photography.
#2 – Savannah College of Art and Design
Online Bachelor’s, BFA, and Master’s in Photography
Savannah College of Art and Design earns a top 2 spot on our list of best online schools for photography due to its acceptance rate of 20 percent. This low acceptance rate makes SCAD one of the finest art schools in the country. Not only does the school cater to the needs of traditional art and photography students, but services online needs as well. In fact, SCAD offers online photography degree programs such as the online bachelor’s, BFA, and master’s in photography. The online programs adhere to the same standards of the traditionally delivered, on-campus degrees.
Thanks to SCAD’s impressive reputation, including accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, over 20,000 SCAD alumni credit the school for launching their creative careers. Many students, even at the undergraduate level, select minors to complement their major. Minors often allow students to tailor their degree toward career goals or personal interest. Due to the flexibility that SCAD offers its students, it’s no wonder it is a top art institution and best online school for photography. We rank SCAD #2 out of the top 15 photography schools due to its selectivity, plentiful online photography degree programs, and affordability.
#1 – California Institute of the Arts
Online digital arts, design language,
California Institute of the Arts is ranked among the best online schools for photography. With an acceptance rate of 23 percent, the school is the most selective on our list. Credit and non-credit bearing course options are available online and on-campus. The school also offers courses in the arts and photography through massive open online course providers (MOOC). To date, CalArts has engaged nearly 300,000 students in over 200 countries. Also, all courses are taught by CalArts faculty and are free for non-credit offerings. However, if you’re seeking certificates, fee-based options are available.
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