Bachelor of Science (BS): Digital Photography Degree Overview

Get details on the technical skills you can gain in a Bachelor of Science in Digital Photography program, as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts program in the same major. See what education and experience you need to be eligible for admission, and learn about some of the career statistics and continuing education paths in this field.

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Essential Information

Programs in digital photography may be available as Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs, but they're usually found as Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs. Some B.S. in Photography programs may offer courses in digital photography. While both programs share courses in topics such as darkroom techniques and lighting, the BFA program highlights more creative expression in digital photography with subjects like color theory and image manipulation.

The use of various computer software programs is another area of discussion, as are the many types of photography. Basic admissions requirements include having a digital camera, holding a high school diploma or GED and sometimes showing a portfolio.


Bachelor's Degrees in Digital Photography

Students interested in earning a bachelor's degree in digital photography have several options, depending on their career goals. A B.S. program generally emphasizes business and technical coursework. A B.A. or BFA program stresses developing creative and design skills.

Regardless of degree sought, digital photography students learn the fundamentals of taking photographs, working with them in a digital darkroom, making prints and preparing them for showing to others. Lighting, photo composition, color theory and design skills are covered. Students are expected to have their own digital SLR camera and tripod. Some programs also have computer or software requirements that students will need to meet in order to be able to complete coursework and assignments.

Educational Prerequisites

Most bachelor's degree programs in digital photography expect applicants to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some schools have flexible admission guidelines and will consider applicants based on their ability to perform the work required of the program. Digital photography programs may prefer or require submission of a portfolio along with application materials.

Course Topics

In addition to foundational courses in photography techniques and lighting, students may take classes specific to the creative and technical aspects of digital photography. Topics can include:

  • Introduction to digital prepress
  • Principles of digital imaging
  • Web design concepts
  • Digital lab skills
  • Image manipulation skills

Popular Career Options

Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in digital photography usually qualify for entry-level jobs. While some students do open their own studio or perform freelance work, others find a job as a:

  • Photographer's assistant
  • Digital photo retoucher
  • Digital prepress operator
  • Photo lab technician
  • School photographer

Bachelor of Science in Photography

For students who'd like a more broad understanding of photography, a B.S. in Photography can provide basic technical and aesthetic skills in print and digital photography. The curriculum may strike a balance between commercial art and business skills and the development of students' creative vision. Students learn technical skills such as lighting, digital imaging, editing and studio techniques. Students may learn different types of photography from news and documentary to fashion and nature.

Students are required to own their own digital camera. Other required equipment may include a scanner, lenses, lighting and printer. Most programs also require completion of a portfolio as part of the degree requirements.

Educational Prerequisites

Admission requirements, including a minimum high school GPA, may vary by school. Commonly, applicants need to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Course Topics

Students are generally required to take general education courses in addition to the core classes. Some classes may help prepare students for the business aspect of photography. Courses may include:

  • Color photography
  • Photography on location
  • Photographic lighting
  • Image management
  • Digital imaging techniques
  • Photojournalism
  • Photo editing
  • History of photography
  • Photo criticism
  • Elements of studio photography

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted employment of photographers would grow by 4% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Growth of Internet media, such as online news and magazines, may open up opportunities for digital and freelance photographers; however, the rise of software advancements and the falling prices of relevant digital technology created a competitive market. According to the BLS, work experience and specialized skills such as technical proficiency may help increase a photographer's chances of employment. According to the BLS, the annual median salary of a photographer was $28,490 in 2012.

Continuing Education

Students interested in graduate-level courses may pursue a master's degree in photography. Degree options may include a Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography or Master of Fine Arts in Photography. Advanced classes in lighting, composition, image processing and illustration are coupled with studio management courses that address students' business and artistic goals. Students may pursue a concentrated area of study, like fashion, fine art, documentary or advertising photography. Most programs require that students put together a portfolio of their work. Thesis and non-thesis options may be available.

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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Colorado (1 campus)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    • Bachelor
        • BFA in Commercial Photography (Online)
        • BFA - Fine Art
        • BFA in Undeclared
        • BFA in Art Education

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Miami include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Film and Cinema Studies
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Syracuse University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at New York University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Temple University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Film and Cinema Studies
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • Oregon (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Oregon include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Film and Cinema Studies
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • Ohio (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Dayton include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • Washington (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Western Washington University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Central Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Photography

Popular Schools

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