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Best 15 Photography Schools in 2021

August 12, 2021 | Staff Writers

Photography Schools
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BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Do you have an artistic eye & an unbridled passion for photography? Would you like to parlay that love and talent of photography by enhancing your knowledge & skill in a bachelor’s degree in photography from one of the country’s top photography schools?

Photography is one of the most creative but technically demanding careers, which is why most professional photographers earn at least a bachelor’s degree from one of the many accredited photography schools available across the United States.

Top 5 Photography Schools

Although photography has evolved from old fashioned film canisters and dusty darkrooms to amazingly complex digital camera options, a quality photographer who captures a professional quality picture that delivers the intended message – will always be in high demand. 

Programs offered at the baccalaureate level in photography require the completion of basic general education, plus studio work, design history/theory, plus photographic experiences working with established and qualified photographers on professional shoots. The coursework is designed to foster each photography student’s innate talents by allowing them to explore the many media and digital options now available.

Most graduates with a bachelor’s degree in photography enter the workforce in the area of film, fashion, advertising, TV, or video production, among others.  As such, many accredited photography schools offer photography degree programs available to meet each photography student’s educational and career objectives.

There are many quality photography schools in today’s educational marketplace that develop each student’s conceptual and aesthetic talents while delving deeply into the fundamental photographic principles.

Best 15 Photography Schools

1

AI Miami International University of Arts & Design (MIUAD)

  • Miami, Florida
  • Graduation Rate: 36%

Miami International University of Arts & Design offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Digital Photography that provides students the opportunity to academically explore studio techniques, color management, portraiture, digital darkroom, and editorial photography name a few.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 12,037 per semester for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 180 quarter credits (four years)
Student Enrollment: 1,104
Accreditation: SACSCOC
Visit School Website
2

Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

Established in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Photography & Film with an academic specialty in Photography that provides students with the conceptual and technical knowledge to succeed as a professional photographer. Classes include digital imaging, moving pixels, lighting, and contemporary critical perspectives, plus a thesis, among others.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 12,094 per semester (Resident) for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 29,757
Accreditation: SACSCOC
Visit School Website
3

California Institute of the Arts (CIA)

  • Santa Clarita, California
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

Located in Valencia, California, the California Institute of the Arts’ School of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Photography & Media that integrates a broad curriculum of general education plus a host of photo classes. The core curriculum for this baccalaureate degree from one of California’s most innovative photography schools includes advanced lighting, photoshop, video post-production, exhibition production, and digital bookmaking, to name a few.

  • Accreditation – WASC & The National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD)

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 13,212.50 per semester for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 1,520
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4

Columbia College Chicago (CCC)

  • Chicago, Illinois

Columbia College Chicago (CCC) offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Photography that offers degree candidates three academic photographic concentrations in fine art, fashion, or commercial photography. As one of the Midwest’s best photography schools, CCC is also home to the MOCP – the Museum of Contemporary Photography, an international hub that attracts some of the most innovative and finest photographic artists through its programs.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 13,305 per semester for 12 to 16 credits
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 6,947
Accreditation: HLC
Visit School Website
5

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt)

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Graduation Rate: 71%

Photo by Matthew Monteith

Massachusetts College of Art and Design, located in Boston, offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Photography that allows students to explore color theory, composition, photo history, contemporary photographic trends, and digital media, among others. As one of the most innovative photography schools, MassART offers its renowned lecture series of photographers and curators worldwide.

In the Photography Department, they see the medium as an ongoing opportunity for conversations, both visual and verbal, about evolving perspectives in a changing world. Students learn an array of analogue and digital techniques in order to make images that reflect their unique perspectives and distinctive stories. Rooted in a spirit of experimentation and thoughtful engagement with the history and traditions of the medium, the curriculum enables students to become accomplished and innovative image makers. Through critique, collaboration, and critical thinking, students from all programs strive together with accomplished faculty to explore the fascinating and flexible visual language of photography.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 14,200 per semester (MA Resident) for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 2,095
Accreditation: NECHE & NASAD
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6

Judson University (JU)

  • Elgin, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 58%

Judson University, a Christian higher learning institution, offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Art with an academic specialty in Photography from one of the state’s most innovative photography schools. Students enrolled in Judson University’s BFA in photography program will complete 79 credit units in coursework that helps develops a student’s skills in art and design in digital and darkroom photography.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 14,420 per semester for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 1,233
Accreditation: HLC
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7

Lesley University

  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Graduation Rate: 60%

Lesley University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in photography that prepares students for rewarding careers as a studio technician, a freelance photographer, a medical photographer, or a photography educator, among others. Classes for this degree from one of Boston’s most innovative photography schools include alternative processes, documentary photography, and art history, plus several senior portfolio studio classes.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 14,600 per semester for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 123 credit units
Student Enrollment: 4,510
Accreditation: NECHE, and NASAD
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8

New York Film Academy (NYFA)

  • New York City, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 69%

New York Film Academy (NYFA), located in Burbank, California (and many locations around the world), offers a BFA degree – a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography that provides students an accelerated option to complete the program in only three years. Students enrolled in one of the finest photography schools in the world are offered a two-year conservatory, plus a host of short-term workshops, plus studio work and classroom teaching.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 15,375 per semester for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 1,918
Accreditation: NASAD, WASC
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9

The New England College (NEC)

  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Graduation Rate: 29%

The New England College, on its Manchester, New Hampshire campus, offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Photography that prepares graduates for rewarding careers in commercial photography, photojournalism documentary film making, or fine art photography, to name a few. As one of New England’s most innovative photography schools, theNew England College Institute of Art and Design, students study these topics – controlled lighting, digital photography, the camera view, digital print, and moving images, to name a few.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 19,214 per semester for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 3,527
Accreditation: NECHE
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10

The University of Hartford (UH)

  • West Hartford, Connecticut
  • Graduation Rate: 59%

The University of Hartford’s Art School offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Photography from one of New England’s finest photography schools. Classes for this baccalaureate degree from UH in photography include color photography, view camera, professional practice, and digital photography, plus several seminars in photography. Degree candidates graduate with the technical and foundational artmaking design skills for a successful photography career.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 20,245 per semester for 12 to 18 credit units
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 6,773
Accreditation: NECHE & NASAD
Visit School Website
11

DePaul University

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 74%

DePaul University’s College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Art, Media & Design with an academic concentration in photography & media art. As one of Chicago’s most innovative photography schools, DePaul University offers classes in digital photography, photojournalism, the photographic book, and experimental film & video, to name a few.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 20,601 per semester (2019/2020) for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 22,064
Accreditation: HLC
Visit School Website
12

The School of Visual Arts (SVA)

  • New York City, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 70%

NYC’s School of Visual Arts, one of the Big Apple’s most innovative photography schools, offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Photography and Video from one of the most renowned photography schools. Classes for this undergraduate degree from the School of Visual Arts include the history of photography, digital photography I & II, visual literacy, printmaking, and advanced lighting techniques, to name a few.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 21,700 per semester for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 120 credit units
Student Enrollment: 4,562
Accreditation: MSCHE and NASAD
Visit School Website
13

The College for Creative Studies (CCS)

  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 70%

Founded in 1906 and located in Detroit, the College for Creative Studies is one of Detroit’s most innovative photography schools, offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Photography. Classes for the College for Creative Studies photography degree includes advanced studio – art/commerce, studio lighting, digital media, color theory and practice, and fine art concepts, plus two photo theses, among others.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $23,085 per semester for 12 to 18 credit unit
Credit Units Required: 126 credit units
Student Enrollment: 1,533
Accreditation: HLC and NASAD
Visit School Website
14

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Graduation Rate: 72%

Maryland Institute College of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) from one of Maryland’s best photography schools accredited by the NASAD for nearly 75 years. Classes for the photographic baccalaureate degree include digital photography, contemporary directions in photography, plus a thesis, a handful of studio electives, plus a relevant photographic internship, to name a few.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 23,255 per semester for full-time students
Credit Units Required: 120 – 126 credit units, depending on major/minor combination
Student Enrollment: 2,225
Accreditation: MSCHE & The National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD)
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15

Pratt Institute (Pratt)

  • New York City, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 70%

Pratt Institute, one of the most innovative photography schools in New York City, offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Photography that prepares graduates to become the next generation’s next leaders in photographic arts. The core curriculum for Pratt University’s undergraduate degree in photography from Pratt includes art since the sixties, between image and word, digital photography, large format photography, and critical studies, to name a few.

School Overview

Tuition Fees: $ 25,877 per semester for 12 to 18 credit units
Credit Units Required: 126 credit units
Student Enrollment; 5,069
Accreditation: MSCHE and NASAD
Visit School Website

Our Ranking Methodology

The photography schools ranked above offer photography students a glimpse into the many traditional academic options available for students interested in earning their bachelor’s degree in photography from a university or college.

The colleges and universities listed above include accredited photography schools available in the national educational marketplace. The schools are ranked with those photography schools with the most affordable tuition fees noted first.

Tuition fees noted represent those costs for the school year 2020/2021 unless specifically stated otherwise. Additional information included in the above analysis was extracted from the school’s website or the NCES’ website.  

  • Tuition costs per semester for 12 credits, although some higher learning institutions allow for up to 18 credit units for no extra charge. If this is the school’s policy, it will be so noted.
  • Credit units to finish the program details the degree program’s depth.
  • Student enrollment data provides information regarding the school’s overall size.
  • The school’s graduate rate.
  • School or program accreditation status.

Have you noticed erroneous information used to analyze the above- noted photography schools? Please contact BestValueSchools.com should you wish to comment or edit the information detailed in the rankings above.

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