Online Photography Certificate

Undergraduate Certificate in Digital Photography

The Undergraduate Certificate in Digital Photography will provide students with a foundation in the skills required to practice as a professional photographer. In a two semester, credit-bearing program, students will gain experience in a wide range of professional photography scenarios and proficiency in using Photoshop and Lightroom for digital imaging and asset management.

Student work by Ryan Evans, UC in Digital Photography

Unleash Your Photography Skills Just Eight Months


Creative Classes, Expert Instructors

Gain Software and Design Skills


Complete Your Program in 8 months

Program Description

The Sessions College Undergraduate Certificate in Digital Photography provides students with a foundation in the skills required to practice as a professional photographer. Students will gain experience in commercial photography scenarios and develop proficiency in using Photoshop and Lightroom for digital editing and asset management. Students explore typical photography assignments, including portraiture, event photography, and product photography, learning how to adjust for lighting and location for professional results.


The Undergraduate Certificate in Digital Photography is a 24-credit program completed in two semesters. Part-time schedules are available.

First Semester

Program Outcomes

By completing the program, UC in Digital Photography students develop the following competencies:

  1. Photography. Knowledgeably use your digital camera to create photographs applying effective framing, composition, perspective, distance, and lighting.
  2. Lighting Setup. Stage and setup photoshoots by adapting for a variety of typical settings, lighting situations, and project goals.
  3. Software and Image Enhancement. Apply retouching and color correction techniques to improve or enhance your images to a professional quality utilizing software including Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
  4. Design. Create polished, professional artwork demonstrating knowledge of color, pattern, details, and composition.
  5. Projects. Confidently apply techniques used for professional photography work in a wide range of settings including portraiture, event photography, real estate, food photography, and more.

Course Descriptions

The program builds a foundation for entry-level photography work or further study. All credits can be later transferred into the Associate in Digital Photography degree program.

DES 121 Photoshop I - 3 credits

This course provides a foundation in the leading imaging program Adobe Photoshop. Practical assignments give students experience in isolation, layering, masking, retouching, image composites, and more. The focus of the course is on learning how to create sophisticated images using a straightforward, efficient workflow.

DES 151 Digital Photography I - 3 credits

Digital photography can be an essential creative tool for any designer. In this course, students learn the fundamentals of lighting, perspective, and camera set up required to capture high-quality images. The skills learned are applied in a series of creative photo shoot assignments, including portraits, product shots, indoor and outdoor location shoots, and fast-action sports.

PHO 105 Photo Setup - 3 credits

Focus on the planning and preparation that lead to the successful execution of a photo shoot. Develop a thorough understanding of different types of lighting, both natural and artificial. Learn the limitations and advantages of varied shooting conditions, and explore methods to effectively stage and style photographs to achieve your desired effect.

DES 104 Color Theory - 1.5 credits

Color is a fundamental medium for any designer. In this course, students explore how digital color works, discovering how to develop harmonious color schemes for art and design clients. Geometric relationships between colors on the color wheel are examined. Exercises give students practice in using hues, values, and intensities. Students also gain a foundation in color psychology and the interpretation of color on screen and in print.

PHO 106 Photo Retouching - 1.5 credits

It doesn’t matter how great a photographer you are—nearly every photograph can benefit from retouching, whether it’s to correct subtle color problems or make major changes to the subject or background. In this course you’ll learn how to turn good photographs into showstoppers. Using Photoshop’s tools and filters, you’ll make seamless changes, realistically enhancing your images so that no-one knows work was done.

PHO 152 Digital Photography II - 3 credits

To take great photographs every time requires both technical and aesthetic mastery. In this course, you’ll learn technical concepts and artistic challenges that will stretch your digital photography skills. Class projects include still-life, action, panoramic, candid, and location photos in addition to retouching and printing.

PHO 205 Digital Photography with Lightroom - 3 credits

Have you ever spent more time working on a photo shoot at your desk than you did taking the pictures? If so, consider managing, developing, printing, and presenting your shots efficiently with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. In this online Lightroom course, working with a photography pro, you'll learn how to collect and catalog your images with ease, use basic and advanced development and retouching tools to create stellar shots, and present your work in slideshows, on the Web, and in print.

PHO 204 Commercial Photography I - 3 credits

Turn creativity into career by using photography as a communication tool in commercial and advertising scenarios. In this survey course, you will explore the equipment and techniques used for professional photography work in portraiture, product photography, real estate, and more. You will also learn how to represent yourself professionally and build your online presence.

PHO 208 Color Correction - 3 credits

Even the best photographs (on the best of days) can be plagued by problems such as color casts, unnatural tones, dull highlights, murky shadows, or low contrast. By evaluating and correcting a wide range of images, students learn how to identify classic color scenarios and use both comprehensive and quick-and-dirty methods for correcting them. The course covers every aspect of correction, from how color channels work, to managing color settings and profiles, to Levels histograms and the Curves command, making target-based corrections, and preparing your images for print using sharpening, on-screen proofing, and CMYK conversion.

Financial Aid

Did You Know? Eligible students entering Undergraduate Certificate programs may be entitled to Federal financial aid. Grants and loans can help you cover the cost of your education.

Student Feedback

"I loved everything about Sessions online courses. The instructors were all fantastic! They answered any question that I may have had during the course. I learned so much during the time that I was a student." - Virginia Lamp, Undergraduate Certificate in Illustration Design

Student Work

Featured Faculty

Taz Tally Taz Tally is an industry-leading expert in digital imaging and pre-press techniques.
Piper Nilsson Faculty profile image Piper Nilsson is a graphic/Web designer and award-winning instructor.
Felicia Kieselhorst Felicia Kieselhorst is a veteran wedding and product photographer.

Career Information

Program graduates are prepared for entry-level positions as designers in the fields of digital photography and digital design. Potential employers for Digital Photography graduates will include small and large businesses and individuals interested in a range of services including weddings, event photography, product photography, and portrait photography. Job titles include Commercial Photographer, Portrait Photographer, Studio Director, and more.

Visit our Career Center for more information, or browse the Federal Occupational Handbook or O*NET database.

Take advantage of our award-winning programs. They’re accredited, affordable, and delivered 100% online.

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.


Complete our free, no-obligation application form online.


Ask us about program options and financial aid.


Select your start date and preferred study schedule.

Program At a Glance

Students entering the program are expected to have earned a high school diploma, GED, or state-approved home school equivalent. Any students under 18 years of age will need to provide the signed permission of a parent or guardian.

Classes start in January, May, and August, with early start options in February, June, and October. Our online application is simple and convenient, and there is no application fee.

To take this program, you’ll need the following:

  • Mac or Windows computer with an Internet connection.
  • A digital camera that offers manual control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance .
  • Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom software.
  • Your computer must meet software manufacturer requirements.
  • Webcam, headphones or speaker, VPN connection, and microphone connected to the computer for live proctored exams.

There are no textbook or course material costs to participate in this online program. Student discount on Adobe Creative Cloud software is available to enrolled students.

Effective July 1st, 2019, the tuition for Undergraduate Certificate students is as follows:

Undergraduate Certificate Tuition
$440 per credit
$5,280 per semester
$10,560 total program tuition

Tuition for part-time students is $490/credit and paid by semester.

A $200 registration fee is required to process your enrollment in the program. Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from the scheduled beginning of program orientation. (Active service members are exempt from registration fees.) See Undergraduate Certificate Tuition and Payment options.

Related Programs

Comparing programs? Browse some other degree or certificate programs you might like: