If you are starting college on the East Coast soon and are planning on earning a photography degree, it is important to take the time to learn your options. Which classes can you choose from and what should you expect from the overall experience? Determining whether schools on your shortlist are public or private will impact your tuition costs, as will whether you live in or outside the institution’s state. 

Even if you are not sure you want to proceed with getting a photography degree yet, learning about some of the top programs in the region can shape your expectations and help you feel more confident when making a decision. Besides reading the descriptions below, consider taking a campus tour or seeing if the university offers a virtual one. Pursuing a degree is a significant commitment, but you are more likely to embrace all it entails if you are well-informed. Cover image by Brett Jordan.

1. New York University’s Photography & Imaging Degree

New York University is a public university dating back to 1831. If you are eager to learn about photography in an urban, energetic setting, NYU offers it.

Those earning their photography and imaging degrees will have most classes at the Tisch School of the Arts. Students work with virtually all types of digital and analog photography, making them well-equipped for the future.

Expect a challenging curriculum that caters to the flexibility necessary for helping individuals achieve their aspirations. Besides focusing on some of the photographic techniques many students may have already tried, this NYU program exposes them to newer options, such as post-photographic technologies related to 3D simulations.

This photography degree attracts students from around the world. After completing their education, learners go on to fill a variety of roles, ranging from editorial photographers to art historians.

2. Lycoming College’s Studio Art Degree With a Photography/ Digital Art Concentration

This option is a private liberal arts college located in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Thanks to its close-knit arts program, you can look forward to plenty of professor support. This institution’s nurturing atmosphere helps people meet and foster friendships with like-minded learners.

Your photography journey here starts with choosing a studio art degree. Then, you will select the photography/digital art concentration. The subjects you will study include art history, drawing, and traditional and digital photography.

The skills people learn prepare them to use photography in commercial or fine art applications. Students will dive into specific options, such as capturing black-and-white photos and using professional lighting equipment. People can also use their acquired skills in real life by interning at photography studios.

This college’s photography facilities include two large black-and-white darkrooms, an alternative process darkroom and studio spaces. While studying here, people will be encouraged in their creative pursuits while learning the foundational skills that will shape their careers.

3. Lesley University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Photography Degree

Lesley University is a private university located on seven acres in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Students who earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography here will immerse themselves in a rigorous curriculum that teaches the technical and artistic aspects of taking memorable photos.

Some of the required courses are photo labs and seminars, creating opportunities for students to engage in activities that develop critical thinking and foundational skills. People will also learn about art history, allowing them to discover the photographic elements that have influenced where things are today.

There is an internship seminar where students focus on improving their portfolios and identifying the most suitable places to gain real-world experience. Many opportunities are in the Greater Boston area. Experienced faculty members expand learners’ horizons by encouraging them to think differently and offering tailored support. As students progress, they will get feedback from various people working in artistic roles. They can also display their work in peer-curated and solo exhibitions. 



Learners working toward their photography degrees enroll in a 123-credit program on campus for full or part-time students. Upon graduating, students will have the specific skills to work in a challenging and fast-paced industry.

4. Virginia Commonwealth University’s Photography and Film Bachelor of Fine Arts With a Photography Concentration

Virginia Commonwealth University is a public higher education institution in Richmond, Virginia. The excellent location lets learners explore many historical and cultural sites. People here earn their photography degrees by deciding on a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography and film with a photography concentration.

Those overseeing the Department of Photography and Film use an approach that gives ample creative freedom and access to explore artistic visions. The thoughtfully designed curriculum covers traditional and contemporary techniques. Students will also sharpen their oral and visual communication skills, learn current business practices, and discover the various creative venues for displaying their work.

Whether attendees want to focus on digital or analog photography in their careers, this university’s curriculum thoroughly covers both. Learners participate in research projects, lectures and practical skill development, making them well-rounded and ready to enter various possible careers.

This experience starts when people are first-year students, helping them develop foundational skills. Learners will also explore how to apply these concepts to emerging photography trends while availing of the many specialized facilities on campus.

5. The University of South Carolina’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography: Studio Art Degree

People considering becoming photography majors at the University of South Carolina will do so at a public institution established in 1801. Due to its location in the state’s capital city, students will find many interesting activities to enjoy during their free time, as well as numerous subjects for their future photographs.

If you do not have any photography gear yet, there is no need to worry. Participants in the Photography: Studio Art program get access to a wide variety of products to support their schoolwork and personal skill development. Get ready to learn traditional techniques along with the latest digital developments.

Stimulate your desire to show off your work by creating books, portfolios and exhibitions after reaching the upper-level courses. You will also showcase your photographs in individual and group exhibitions. After completing this program, people go on to have careers as arts administrators, gallery owners and more.

6. Vermont State University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography

Aspiring photography students often appreciate chances to study in various locations. That gives some the option of studying while still living at home or looking for housing in several places rather than only one. Vermont State University is a public institution that offers people in the photography program opportunities to study in Lyndon, Castleton and Johnson. In addition to the cross-campus possibilities, students may have chances to complete some coursework remotely.

This institution focuses on project-based courses for photography students, so learners gradually build diverse portfolios to showcase their potential. Thanks to the small class sizes, your professors will get to know you and your aspirations.

Each campus has a photo studio and digital production room, along with several galleries. Look forward to exhibiting your work on campus and in Vermont galleries, whether individually or with your peers.

Set Your Photography Degree Goal

The concepts, techniques and trends learned while earning a photography degree can help you build a strong foundation for a rewarding career. Consider these top choices among your primary contenders.

Read next: Lessons I Learned When I Bought My First Film Camera

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