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SNHU Graduate Caitlyn Carey working on a laptop. With the text Caitlyn Carey '15

Associate Degree in Photography Online

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Register By: August 28 Classes Start: August 30

Earn an AA in Photography Online

  • $320/credit (60 credits)
  • Transfer up to 45 credits
  • 100% online instruction
  • Work with professional photographers
  • Learn essential business skills
  • No application fee or SAT/ACT scores required

Associate in Digital Photography Online Program Overview

Take your love of photography to the next level with an Associate of Arts (AA) in Digital Photography degree from Southern New Hampshire University. Along with courses in writing, communication and social sciences, you’ll cover the business and history of photography.

You’ll learn design theory, how to use light and color, and how to create and process digital images. Post-production editing and other technical skills are paired with a strong foundation in the humanities throughout. And, all courses are online – so you're free to learn from anywhere with internet and at any time that fits your schedule.

This program is for anyone seeking to launch or advance an exciting career in professional photography. You’ll complete this program ready to develop your own creative voice and your brand identity. You’ll also be ready to seamlessly transition to the bachelor's online digital photography degree program should you choose.

Learn how to:

  • Develop professional skills aligned with best practices of the industry
  • Employ industry-appropriate tools and techniques
  • Apply the elements and principles of art and design
  • Communicate ideas and themes to specific audiences

Career Outlook

While an associate degree in photography can give you a competitive advantage, the best job candidates have multiple talents and related skills. Accountability and professionalism will serve you well in any career. Creative intelligence and collaboration are two strong skills you’ll develop by studying commercial arts. And written and verbal communication never go out of style.

Graduates of an associate degree in digital photography can become commercial photographers in fields such as photojournalism and industrial or product photography. Freelance photography is also a growing field. In fact, there are many ways to use your associate degree in photography that could lead to a rewarding career. You can apply the credits earned in the associate in photography toward a BA in Digital Photography as well.

"A photography degree says that you have made an investment in your career," said RJ Johns, a photography instructor for Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). "While many still view photography as a glorified hobby, to have a degree shows a commitment to your craft and career."

The median hourly wage for a photographer was $17.44 in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 That allows for a lot of potential to earn a solid wage as you build your career. You can also apply your associate degree in photography to a BA in Digital Photography or online graphic design degree.

Or, you could also apply your photographic expertise as a craft or fine artist working in a commercial studio, where the median salary was $48,760 per year in 2019.1

Once you complete the online Associate of Arts in Digital Photography program, you'll be ready to work in a number of exciting career fields, including:

  • Portrait photography. Specialize in photographing people, groups or even animals. You may apply your photography skills to documenting weddings or other special events, and may work in a studio space or on location. Strong communication skills in addition to technical expertise is helpful here.
  • Commercial and industrial photography. Take pictures of a variety of subjects ranging from buildings and merchandise to models and landscapes. You may work in a studio or on location.
  • Aerial photography. Use specialized photography equipment to take high-quality images from airplanes or helicopters.
  • Scientific photography. Use your photography skills to document scientific or medical data. You may use microscopes to capture images too small to see with the naked eye. Your strong humanities background will be especially helpful here.
  • News photography. Photograph people, places, and events. Your photos might be used for a variety of print or digital media, such as magazines, newspapers or even television. Also known as photojournalism, strong digital photography skills will be especially helpful here.
  • Fine arts photography. Sell your photographs as works of art. This role combines photographic skill, a creative eye and a sound background in marketing and business.
  • University photography. Work as a staff photographer for a college or university. You may produce, edit and present photographs for all manner of university-related events. Your photographs may be used in official university publications, websites, emails and more.
  • Production assistant. A dynamic entry-level role, you'll assist lead photographers in conducting photo sessions at a studio or on site. A high level of technical ability is needed here, in particular with lighting and equipment. Strong communication skills may also serve you well as there is often a customer service aspect to this role.
  • Digital photo technician. Apply your technical skills to scan and manipulate images. Your aesthetic skills would be helpful in this role, as you may work on retouching, sizing and adjusting the color and contrast to create the best images for your clients. Good customer service and communication skills are helpful here as well.
  • Photo editor. A role with a strong management component, you may select and edit photos yourself, though the focus of this role involves managing other photographers by assigning and coordinating their projects. Business and communication skills would be helpful here, because you may negotiate fees and obtain rights and permissions to use images.
  • Lighting technician. Set up lighting for stages, location sets or studio spaces. A strong knowledge of aesthetics, media, business and design may help you excel in this role. You may work in commercial settings, in television or film production or as a freelance artist.

Colleen Vandenberg with the text 'Colleen Vandenberg'No matter which career you choose, “earning your online degree at SNHU will afford you the opportunity to lay the foundation of being an expert in your craft, and have a deeper understanding of professional photography," said Colleen Vandenberg, photography faculty at SNHU.

Start Your Journey Toward an Online Digital Photography Degree

Courses & Curriculum

The Associate of Arts in Digital Photography degree at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is designed to give you the leading edge for a career in commercial photography.

Taught by industry-leading faculty, you’ll enjoy foundational coursework grounded in business and the liberal arts. Then, you’ll focus on courses covering all aspects of digital photography. Lighting, aesthetics, design and communications come together to offer a well-rounded degree.

"Photographers today often are hired on a contract basis and it is essential that they are educated in the successful creation, marketing and running of a photography business," said Sloan Kelly, associate dean of fine and applied arts at SNHU.

In addition to learning the most advanced camera, lighting and editing technology, you’ll enjoy a robust feedback process to enrich your learning experience. Coursework examines the artistic and business sides of the profession.

"Learning how to build and maintain a freelance business and the importance of a brand – and marketing that brand – is essential for students to learn," Kelly said.

Credits earned for the associate degree in photography can be easily applied toward a bachelor’s degree in digital photography, graphic design and media arts or a variety of other liberal arts majors.

Curriculum Requirements & Resources

  • General education courses: All associate in photography students are required to take 21 credits of general education courses, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, providing the edge employers are looking for. This foundation will position you to be competitive in your career and in a future bachelor’s degree program online, or on campus, should you decide to continue on with your education.
  • Major courses: All associate in photography students will earn 27 credits of digital photography, communication and graphic design theory courses. Major courses may include Media Communication and Visual Literacy, Business of Photography, Lighting, History of Photography or Design and Color Theory.
  • Free electives: Every student has 12 free electives to use toward their associate degree in photography. You may use these courses to customize your study based on your interests and career goals.
  • Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
  • Hardware and software support: As noted below, you will need a DSLR camera, tripod and lighting kit to complete this program and be successful as a commercial or fine art photographer. Coursework includes instruction on popular photographic software, such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. You'll also learn about hardware and other technical equipment such as scanners, still cameras and lighting kits. You'll cover methods and techniques for creating and editing graphics. And, of course, you will have opportunities for the hands-on practice of your new skills.

In addition to the technical and theoretical photography skills you will learn in this exciting program, your coursework will prepare you for the business aspects of working as a commercial photographer.

Communication, business, critical thinking and internet savvy are all skills that will serve you well for a future career or to move on to a bachelor’s degree. Many of your courses for the associate degree in photography can be applied to a bachelor’s degree, so continuing on with your education will be seamless.

Tuition & Fees

As a private, nonprofit university, we’re committed to making college more accessible by making it more affordable. That’s why we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation—and haven't raised our costs in a decade.

We also offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.

Online Undergraduate Programs Per Course Per Credit Hour Annual Cost for 30 credits 
Degree/Certificates $960 $320 $9,600
Degree/Certificates
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
$675 $225 $6,750

Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.

Additional Costs
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)

Frequently Asked Questions

University Accreditation

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.

References