Best Online Photography Degree Programs

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Contributor, Benzinga
April 23, 2020

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Do you dream of working as a professional photographer? Maybe you’re already in the field and want to advance your skills.

Consider an online photography degree to help pursue your passion or capture more impressive images. There are several programs to choose from — you can perfect your craft without disrupting your everyday life. You’ll also gain in-demand skills while you build or improve a professional portfolio that shines. 

Ready to get started? Benzinga is here to help you find the best online photography degree program for your busy lifestyle. 

Why Choose an Online Photography Degree?

It’s possible to learn the art of photography by trial or error. You can make an investment in your future by choosing an online photography degree program to learn the history and essentials of the industry, get exposure to different types of photography and deliver exceptional images to those you serve. You’ll receive valuable nuggets of wisdom from seasoned industry professionals and collaborate with peers who can give you feedback on your work. 

Many colleges and universities also offer career services to online students. You can take advantage of this opportunity to receive free assistance with resume building, interviewing skills and job placement while enrolled. This is a valuable benefit if you want to work for an employer before branching out on your own. 

Photography degree holders can also choose from several exciting career paths. You can pursue a role as a photographer in many industries — education, branding, entertainment, fashion, film, government relations, hospitality, public relations, publishing, production, real estate, special events and more. 

How to Choose an Online Photography Degree Program?

Not all online photography degree programs are the same. How do you know which options are worthwhile investments of your time and money? Keep these factors in mind as you evaluate programs.


You want an online photography degree program taught by professors with real-world experiences. They should also be able to convey core knowledge and industry insights in a way that’s easy to understand. 

Course Options 

How will the program help you meet your career goals? Do the course options cover topics you’re interested in? The best online photography degrees touch on all components of the industry, including the evolution of photography, technical aspects and best practices when working in the field. 


Review the tuition and fee schedule for your top prospects. The figures should be comparable. If you find that some programs are far more expensive than others, consider removing them from your list. You don’t want to spend more money than you have to on a program that yields the same results as a more affordable option. 

Jobs Waiting for You with a Photography Degree

An online photography degree opens the door to a host of job opportunities. Here are some of the top picks among recent graduates: 


This role is self-explanatory but encompasses many paths. As mentioned earlier, you can work in settings that require you to work locally, nationwide or around the globe. 

On average, photographers earn $36,280 per year or $17.44 per hour. However, you can boost your earning potential by working independently or taking on individual clients outside of your full-time role. 

Art Director 

Art directors play an integral role in developing the style and design for magazine images, movies, newspapers, products and television productions. They work closely with artists and designers to ensure visual standards are met and align with the overall branding strategy. 

In 2018, the median pay for art directors was $94,220 per year. 

Camera Operator 

Want to step outside your comfort zone as a photographer? If your degree program covered video editing, you might want to consider a role as a camera operator. You will capture digital footage for movies, television shows and other media and alter it to make the material more appealing to audiences.

The average annual salary for camera operators is $59,810. However, the amount you earn depends on if you work as a cinematographer, studio camera operator or videographer. 

Best Online Colleges for a Photography Degree

Here are Benzinga’s top picks for online photography degrees. We’ve also included a description of each program to help you find the program that best suits your needs. 

1. Southern New Hampshire University


Want to learn the essentials of the photography business? Consider an online Bachelor of Arts in digital photography Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). 

This program delves into the mechanics of digital camera operation, lighting, post-production image editing, visual literacy and so much more. It also covers the operational side of photography and what it takes to effectively market your services, garner the attention you deserve and attract top clients. 

Digital photography majors take the following core courses: 

  • Digital Narratives and Documentary 
  • Digital Photography 
  • Digital Photography Portfolio 
  • Innovations in Digital Imaging
  • Introduction to Digital Imaging  
  • Lighting for Photography 
  • Media Communications and Visual Literacy
  • Social Media 
  • Photographic Aesthetic Concepts 
  • Photographic Practice in the Digital Age
  • The Business of Photography 

When you reach the finish line, you will have the skills to work in aerial, commercial, industrial, news, portrait, scientific and university photography. You can pursue a role as an art director, camera operator, graphic designer or video editor. 

You need 120 credit hours to earn your degree. SNHU allows you to transfer up to 90 credit hours from an accredited college or university. 

2. Savannah College of Art and Design


Master the art of photography with an online Bachelor of Arts in visual communication from the Savannah College of Art and Design. This program teaches you to unleash your inner creativity and use it to drive you in your career as a professional photographer. Students are also encouraged to fuse their unique style with traditional techniques to create digital masterpieces. 

As a distance learning student, you’ll receive the same learning experience as your peers who study on campus. The photography concentration is comprised of the following core classes: 

  • Advanced Digital Imaging 
  • Business Practices for Photography 
  • Camera Exploration and Technique
  • Digital Imaging and Compositing 
  • Inkjet Printing for Photography
  • Lighting Applications: From Products to Portraits
  • Photography Project Seminar

Students will also participate in an internship program or SCADpro collaboration. A total of 180 credit hours are required to complete the program. 

3. Academy of Art University 


Interested in learning how to build a professional portfolio that shines? Let the online Bachelor of Fine Arts program from the School of Photography at the Academy of Art University show you the ropes.

The curriculum helps you build the aesthetic and conceptual skills needed to develop a stunning professional portfolio. You will also complete a series of courses to enhance your foundational knowledge of photography, including:

  • Advanced Digital Retouching 
  • Advanced Photo Imagery 
  • Architectural Landscape Photography
  • Commercial Photography 
  • Digital Printing 
  • Documentary 
  • Environmental Portraiture 
  • Fine Art Photography 
  • Imaging for Photographers 
  • Imaging Workflow and Process
  • Location Lighting 
  • Motion for Photographers
  • People Photography
  • Photo Design and Concept 
  • Photography Principles and Techniques
  • Portfolio Development 
  • Quality of Light 
  • Self-Promotion and Marketing 
  • The Business of Photography
  • Visualization 

You must successfully complete 132 credit hours to earn your degree. 

4. Arizona State University 


Arizona State University offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts in digital photography. It caters to individuals who want to pursue a career in advertising or commercial photography, design, gallery direction, museum curation, photo and art direction. This program may also be a good fit if you want to pursue a graduate degree in art or photography. 

It aims to help students implement creative practices and hone their visual literacy skills by completing hands-on projects. As you work through the program and create digital works of art, you will also have the opportunity to receive candid feedback from your instructors. 

Students complete a series of in-depth photography courses, including: 

  • Digital Photography I and 2
  • Photography Now
  • Photo Editing: Narrative/Non-Narrative 
  • Advanced Digital Photography  
  • Advanced Techniques in Digital Photography 

Another significant benefit is the ability to create a portfolio and artist statement that has been peer reviewed and is ready for viewing by potential employers or clients. 

5. Cornell Online


A subsidiary of Cornell University, eCornell offers a digital photography certificate program. It’s a good fit for current and aspiring professional photographers, artists, amateur photographers, hobbyists, marketers and small business owners. 

This program covers the essentials of camera operation and lighting to achieve optimal results. You’ll also acquire the skills to capture meaningful images that are captivating and play on viewers’ emotions. You’ll take the following courses: 

  • Building a Photography Portfolio
  • Camera Selection and Mechanics
  • Digital Asset Management 
  • Lighting 
  • Photography Fundamentals
  • Professional Photography 
  • Style and Expression Through Photography 

Each course was developed by Barry Perlus, associate professor in the Cornell College of Architecture, Art and Planning. 

Expect to spend 4 months working through the courses. 

Get Started with an Online Photography Degree Program 

Make your dreams of becoming a professional photographer a reality or level up your skills. Consider a degree program from our list of recommendations. They are offered by reputable institutions at a rate you can afford, and the instructors are seasoned professionals who can steer you in the right direction as you embark on your career. 

Southern New Hampshire University Online

SNHU Online Offers:

  1. Flexible schedules
  2. Affordable tuition
  3. Online tutoring
  4. Access to electronic research materials
  5. Specialized academic advising
  6. Supportive online community