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Jobs and Career Info for a Masters Degree in Photography

Earning a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Photography can prepare students for advanced jobs in the field, including senior positions in commercial or industrial, fine arts, news or scientific photography, as well as portraiture. MFA in Photography graduates also might be eligible for college or university teaching positions.

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Career Requirements for Photographers

In general, there's no specific level of education required to become a professional photographer. However, completing a master's degree program in photography could help aspiring photographers develop the technical proficiency and creativity they need to succeed in the field. These programs also can introduce students to new aesthetics and technology, build their communication skills and teach them to perform research related to the photographic arts.

Job Options for MFA in Photography Graduates

Many MFA in Photography graduates go on to work in postsecondary education. However, some graduates choose careers as working artists and exhibitors, and others enter the corporate world. The latter might find advanced positions in commercial or industrial, news, portrait or scientific photography.

Photography Professor

With a master's degree in photography, graduates generally can work as adjunct or part-time professors at colleges or universities. Additionally, some schools might offer MFA graduates full-time, tenure-track positions. Professorships usually require some level of previous teaching experience.

Commercial or Industrial Photographer

These photographers take pictures of artifacts, buildings, landscapes and equipment. Graduates of MFA programs typically have strong skills in lighting, production and various methods of printing that might benefit them in this career.

Fine Arts Photographer

Fine arts photographers, who sell or exhibit their photos as artwork, might choose to complete a master's program to gain awareness of the business side of fine arts photography, as well as to learn more about aesthetics. An MFA program also might help aspiring fine arts photographers to develop a creative portfolio of work.

News Photographer

News photographers, also known as photojournalists, photograph individuals or events that are considered newsworthy. Master's in photography recipients often have completed an internship and built an extensive portfolio that can help them enter the industry as a freelancer or staff member at a newspaper or magazine.

Portrait Photographer

Portrait photographers, who might work for commercial photography studios or operate their own businesses, take pictures of individuals or groups of people, such as families, students or sports teams. A graduate of an MFA in Photography program should have the business and communication skills needed in this field, as well as the ability to use position, lighting and location effectively.

Scientific Photographer

Those interested in scientific photography might pursue a master's degree in photography to learn advanced technical skills, as well as new digital methods. These professionals use specialized imaging techniques, such as time-lapse photography, to photograph scientific experiments and phenomena.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates 4% growth in job opportunities for all photographers in the years 2012-2022, which is slower than average. The BLS reported that photographers earned $29,280 as a median annual wage in 2013.

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

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  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at George Washington University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate 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
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Illinois include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional 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
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Film and Cinema Studies
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional 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
        • Film and Cinema Studies
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, 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
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics