Author: Brenda Rufener
Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
Reading Level: Grade 9
Read Time: 8 minutes, 8 seconds
Original Publication Date: January 2020
In this list, we profile the ten best online schools for photography. To become a photographer, you need the proper education and training. 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, take the classes that prepare you for this career. Thankfully, online photography programs and classes are available in niche areas of photography.
10 Best Online Photography Degree Programs Methodology
Our initial pool of online schools included 35 selections. We narrowed our original pool by considering the acceptance rate of each institution. We then determined accreditation and the number of photography degree online programs offered. Also, we evaluated cost and financial aid. Some schools on our list offer rolling admission and a 100% acceptance rate. We evaluated the nature of the coursework and the complexity of the curriculum. This helped us determine school placement and ranking.
Below are the ten best online schools for photography.
#10 – Dakota College at Bottineau
Bottineau, North Dakota
Online AAS and Certificate in Photography
Tuition: (in-state) $5,173; (out-of-state) $7,613
Dakota College at Bottineau is one of the best online schools for photography. The school offers an Associate of Arts and Science in photography and a certificate in photography. Both programs are offered online. Students who take classes exclusively online will be guided to purchase their lighting equipment and conduct all photography labs and assignments from home. While classes and learning objectives vary by program, Dakota College at Bottineau students can expect to gain knowledge and demonstrate proficiency in photography. Students study:
- Branding policies
- Business practices in photography
- Printing processes
- Portfolio making
Dakota College at Bottineau has existed almost as long as the state of North Dakota. The college is one of eleven North Dakota University System institutions and is governed by the North Dakota State Board of Education. The Higher Learning Commission accredits the school.
- 100% acceptance rate
- Small class sizes
- Can be lack of communication with online students
#9 New York Institute of Photography
New York, New York
Online Photography Courses
Tuition: Cost Varies by Course
The New York Institute of Photography offers online photography courses. They are 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 affordable payment plans. Students seeking a degree in photography find cheap options. Classes that are transferable to most online programs. Sample coursework in photography includes:
- Business for Photographers
- Fundamentals of Digital Photography
- Nature and Landscape Photography
- Wedding Photography
Students enrolled at NYIP can also take photography courses with a specific focus. Transferrable credits shorten the time for a certificate or associate’s degree. Graduates of classes at NYIP gain a strong command of photography and are ready to impact the art world.
- 100% acceptance rate
- Affordable monthly payment plans
- Lack of individualized attention
- Some materials can seem dated
#8 – Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
Online BFA in Photography
Tuition: (Undergraduate) $22,607; (Graduate) $15,144
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is a top online photography school. It offers a 100-percent acceptance rate. The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in several photography-related disciplines. Students may earn a BFA in Photography with specializations in:
- Commercial Photography
- Digital Imaging
Programs help students develop a comprehensive portfolio that establishes expertise following graduation.
If you’re passionate about art and photography, RMCAD 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 enjoy the flexible schedule that Rocky Mountain’s online programs offer.
RMCAD is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It ranks among art schools recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.
- Flexible online options for a bachelor’s degree
- A rolling admission process
- Some find tuition costs prohibitive. Reports of more affordable options in the same region
#7 – Santa Barbara City College
Santa Barbara, California
Online Associate’s and Certificate in Photography
Tuition: (In-State) $1,234; (Out-of-State) $9,322
Santa Barbara City College is a public community college in Santa Barbara, California. It offers various associate degree and certificate programs. It is one of the top online photography schools on our list and accepts everyone who applies. The 100% acceptance rate and rolling admission make it a popular choice for busy students. SBCC offers online options for those seeking an associate’s degree in photography. Students may earn an associate’s degree or certificate in photography. Both programs offer online classes taught by the college’s experienced instructors.
Online options for an AA degree include an associate’s) in applied photography. Courses are delivered online and cover topics like:
- Advanced Photography and Lighting Strategies
- Color Management
- Digital Darkroom
- Introduction to Photography
- Travel and Street Photography
Fun and unique electives include:
- Children and Pet Photography
- Fine Art Copy Work
- Wedding and Event Photography
U.S. News and World Report ranks Santa Barbara City College among the top community colleges. Also, the school and its programs are fully accredited.
- Consistently ranked among the top community colleges
- Some students report a lack of online faculty/student communication
#6 – Sessions College for Professional Design
Online Associate in Digital Photography
Sessions College for Professional Design ranks among the best online schools for photography. The associate’s in digital photography is a uniquely designed degree program. It can be completed entirely online. The program is for high school graduates and adult learners seeking to gain knowledge and skills 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 are taught by Sessions College instructors. They 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
- Narrative Photography
Students will become familiar with the equipment and learn production techniques.
U.S. News and World Report recognize SCPD as a top community college. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) accredits Sessions and its degree programs. 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.
- Photography students report excellent faculty feedback
- 100% acceptance rate
- Not enough financial aid options
- Students report some out-of-date curriculum
#5 – The Photography Institute
San Francisco, California
Online Courses in Photography
The Photography Institute ranks among the top colleges and universities for photography degrees. This online photography institution offers online diploma courses in all areas of photography. The school connects students with experienced faculty through 12 online course modules. Each course focuses on a specific area of photography. It 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
- Photography Business and Studio Essentials
- Refining the Image Process
The school is committed to providing high-quality education. Their online instruction and student and teacher support systems are excellent.
The Photography Institute offers low-cost tuition, accreditation, and a one-hundred percent acceptance rate. The International Accreditation and Recognition Council accredits the school. The Better Business Bureau also recognizes it as a reputable institution. The Photography Institute takes its budget-friendly promise to a new level. It offers payment plans and a seven-day money-back guarantee.
- Excellent online student support
- Deadline flexibility
- Some course modules can be challenging to navigate
#4 – Arizona State University
Online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art (Digital Photography)
Tuition: (Undergraduate) $11,618; (Graduate) $12,014
ASU also ranks highly for its offerings of online photography degree programs. Major publications also recognize it as a top-ranked national university. 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. 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
- Photography Now
ASU is home to world-class artists and photographers. The alumni network offers outstanding connections for students. Faculty emphasize various research areas and allow students to contribute to their findings. Students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty as research interests permit. Some possible research areas include:
- Arts education and arts-integrated education
- Design and arts
- 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 rank #2 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.
- ASU has an excellent, long-established track record
- High nationally ranked photography bachelor’s degree
- Courses can be time-consuming
#3 – Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Online Bachelor’s in Digital Photography
Tuition: (Undergraduate) $15,380; (Graduate) $18,900
SNHU earns a top spot on our list of best online schools for photography. It has an acceptance rate of 73 percent and affordable tuition.. SNHU offers a bachelor’s in digital photography that is entirely online. SNHU instructors who have gained real-world experience teach this flexible photography degree program. Online courses cover topics such as:
- Digital Narratives and Documentary
- Digital Photography
- Innovations in Digital Imaging
- Media Communication and Visual Literacy
- 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, the 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.
- No application fees or SAT/ACT requirements
- Excellent alumni networking opportunities
- There are many adjunct instructors
- Financial aid issues have been reported
#2 – Savannah College of Art and Design
Online Bachelor’s in Photography
Tuition: (Undergraduate) $39,605; (Graduate) $40,050
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. SCAD offers online photography degree programs, such as:
- BA in Photography
- Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography
- Master’s in Photography
The online programs adhere to the same standards as the on-campus degrees.
Thanks to SCAD’s impressive reputation, over 20,000 SCAD alumni credit the school for launching their creative careers. Many students select minors to complement their major, even at the undergraduate level. Minors often allow students to tailor their degrees toward career goals. Due to the flexibility that SCAD offers its students, it’s no wonder it is a top art institution and the best online school for photography.
- Outstanding alumni network
- Considered a top-rated art institution
- Online programming can be difficult to navigate
- High tuition costs
#1 – California Institute of the Arts
Online BFA and MFA in Photography and Media
Tuition: (Undergraduate) $55,056; (Graduate) $54,440
CIA 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 through 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.
- A top ranked art institution
- Supportive faculty
- Excellent student diversity
- Complicated financial aid process
- Lack of scholarship availability
- High tuition costs
- Bachelor’s in Environmental Design
- Bachelor’s in Film Studies
- Industrial Design Degrees
- Online Animation Degrees