The School of Photography at the Academy of Art University is one of the preeminent photography schools in the nation. Today's photography industry is in demand of highly educated professionals who can combine technical proficiency with visual creativity. Our forward-reaching curriculum is designed to teach students the skills necessary to succeed in this field.

Through innovative curriculum, we encourage students to develop their individual styles and coach them to create powerful portfolios demonstrating their unique artistic visions. In addition to providing students with the necessary technical, conceptual and professional skills, we also support our students with excellent networking opportunities with industry professionals. Our instructors are active professionals chosen for their expertise and achievements, as well as their working knowledge of contemporary trends in the industry.

Through effective and innovative curriculum, access to highly trained faculty, guidance in exceptional portfolio development, and support through professional connections in the industry, students in our photography degree programs graduate with the unique skills and vision required for success.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

The Master of Fine Arts program imparts a high level of digital and traditional photography skill and graduate-level aesthetic theory, and it substantially educates and supports students in their investigation of the applied and fine arts specializations. This is accomplished through the mastery of specific skills according to the student's needs, strong education in relation to relevant theory, emphasis on the student's personal vision, a professional faculty that provides depth as well as breadth of experience, and facilities that provide a professional context for study.

Students have the opportunity to concentrate in the area of photography of specific interest to them learning about core principles related to photography as a medium. Our school supports graduate students in becoming leaders rather than followers in their area of specialization.

Photography courses include a mix of studio courses, individual advisement, and seminars. Strong conceptual and technical knowledge is the underpinning of the curriculum, with a powerful and cohesive final thesis project being the tangible result.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

The Bachelor of Fine Arts program provides students with a solid foundation in technical, aesthetic, critical and practical skills necessary to thrive in the challenging and diverse photography profession. Under the guidance of our faculty of photography professionals, students will refine their individual photographic style, in terms of both content and approach. Once fundamental technical and design skills are solidified, the student will select an area of specialization: fine art, art for commerce, or documentary. They will then be guided through advanced curriculum relevant to their professional goals as a photographer. 

The philosophy of the program is to foster the development of a unique independent approach to the medium, to offer guidance as students develop dynamic and cohesive portfolios, and to provide the skill sets necessary for graduates to successfully thrive in the marketplace upon graduation.

Associate of Arts (AA)

The Associate of Arts program develops technically and aesthetically sound photographers, capable of successfully entering and competing in the photography marketplace upon graduation. Students are led through a series of classes conducted by working professionals in the field of photography, providing them with an understanding of photographic design. Instructors guide each student to finding his or her style, in content and approach. Armed with technical skills along with design and concept knowledge, the student may develop a cohesive portfolio that has a personal signature in every image.

Online Award of Completion

The Online Award of Completion in Digital Photography requires completing three classes designed to improve students' skills in several areas of digital photography. These classes were specifically built for non-degree-seeking students who are looking to improve their technical knowledge and abilities.

The main topics of the classes are digital camera operation, fundamentals of photography, Photoshop, and the presentation of images. Successful completion of these courses can also be credited towards a degree at the Academy of Art University. Note that degree-seeking students must satisfy existing degree requirements.

Please Note: The Online Award of Completion requires that all courses must be taken online.

Required Courses
(3 units each unless otherwise noted)

PRO PH510: Digital Photography: Shooting
PRO PH512: Digital Photography: Photoshop
PRO PH517: Digital Photography: Presentation

Course Hardware Requirements

All online photography classes can be completed on a Mac or PC computer. However, Mac is the industry standard for photography and most creative fields. Demonstrations, lectures, screen shots and examples found in the online photo classes are created on a Mac. For anyone interested in a career in the photography industry, a Mac is recommended. The individual online class home pages will identify all hardware and software requirements.

Firms Hiring Our Grads

Wired, Levi Strauss & Co., The New York Times, Sun Microsystems, Inc., Time, Newsweek, Apple, Associated Press, Revo, J.Crew, Lucasfilm Ktd,, Adbusters Magazine, Museum of Children's Art, Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Ruby Bird Studios, Sharpe + Associates, Apostrophe, Sephora, Ford Models, Surface Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Sony, Museum of Modern Art, 7x7, Fathom Communications.