Online Photography Degree

Associate Degree in Digital Photography

The Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) in Digital Photography degree at Sessions College is an intensive two-year degree program for students seeking to enter careers as contracted, freelance, or fine art photographers. Designed for high school graduates and adult learners, the program offers a strong foundation in the visual language of photography and a working knowledge of the equipment, software, and production techniques essential for work in the photographic industry.

Start your future in photography with a degree from Sessions College. Our affordable online courses can fit any lifestyle.

Photography work by AOS student Yulia Yushina

Launch Your Career with a Degree in Photography


Creative Classes, Expert Instructors

Focus on Career Preparation

Build Professional Skills and a Portfolio

Program Overview

The Sessions College Associate of Occupational Studies in Digital Photography is an intensive two-year degree program for students seeking to enter careers as independent freelance photographers. Designed for high school graduates and adult learners, the program will offer a strong foundation in the visual language of photography and a working knowledge of the equipment, software, and production techniques essential for work in the photographic industry.

First-year classes cover fundamental concepts in photography, lighting, and image editing, as well as color and composition. Second-year classes place an emphasis on exploring a range of commercial photography assignments and finding areas of strength. A focus on real world scenarios and a training in complementary skills such as photo editing and video production ensures that students are prepared to work in a range of professional contexts.


The Associate of Occupational Studies Degree in Digital Photography is a 72-credit program completed in two years. Part-time schedules are available.

Digital Photography Major - Year One

First Semester

Second Semester

Third Semester

Digital Photography Major - Year Two

Fourth Semester

Fifth Semester

Sixth Semester

Students must complete 54 credits of Art/Design coursework and 18 credits of General Education. (DES = Design, PHO = Photography, WEB = Web, DIG = Digital Media, ILL = Illustration, DEG = Degree, GEN = General Education)

* Elective course may be replaced by any other 3-credit course in the program, subject to availability and prerequisites.


Program Outcomes

By completing the program, Digital Photography majors 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.
  6. Critical Thinking and Writing. Develop ideas utilizing critical thinking skills and clearly communicate them through writing within academic or professional contexts.
  7. Portfolio. Develop a high-quality portfolio of photographic work in preparation for marketing your photographic skills and services.

Course Descriptions

Program highlights for Photography majors in the AOS in Digital Photography program.

DES 151 Digital Photography I - 3 credits

Explore the interaction of photography techniques and environmental factors to create powerful digital images. Students learn the fundamentals of lighting, perspective, and set up and explore techniques for classic assignments: portraits, product shots, indoor and outdoor location shoots, and fast-action sports. A mastery of digital photography gives you creative control of the medium.

PHO 104 History of Photography - 1.5 credits

This course provides a historical overview of photography, from the invention of the photographic process, to the evolution of the medium, to the role of the image in contemporary art and design. You'll gain an introduction to the styles and achievements of important photographers, and be provided the tools to understand the context of their work as well as their influence on society.

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.

PHO 152 Digital Photography II - 3 credits

Take your digital photography artistry to a higher level. Advanced photography techniques and approaches to composition, learning how to correct images using Photoshop and print high-quality images. The emphasis of the class is developing a solid technical understanding of the medium and identifying one's individual expressive vision. Advanced projects explore experimental methods for enhancing photographs with digital effects.

PHO 106 Photo Retouching - 1.5 credits

Learn techniques for removing, correcting and manipulating photographic flubs or flaws using Photoshop. You will explore professional selection techniques, and how to clone, patch, and heal problem areas, and adjust colors and tones to create a seamless and professional quality product. The course examines image correction and enhancement scenarios a designer or photographer might typically encounter.

PHO 204 Commercial Photography I - 3 credits

Event photography is the primary source of business for most professional photographers. Capturing the important moments in a concert, wedding, sporting even requires planning and a mastery of equipment, lighting, and location. In this course, you'll learn practical skills for managing paid event photography shoots. Discover how to approach projects professionally and deliver the client a high quality product.

PHO 205 Digital Photography with Lightroom - 3 credits

Learn how to manage, develop, print, and present your shots more efficiently with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Discover 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. The course will challenge you to take your shots to the next level of organization, quality, and presentation.

PHO 207 Commercial Photography II - 3 credits

Explore and practice advanced techniques for developing your skills and presence as a commercial photographer. Make images that accomplish specific objectives, with a focus on location-based event photography for weddings, night life, and fashion. Finally, you'll learn about photography products, including prints, books, and more.

PHO 208 Color Correction - 3 credits

Learn how to achieve an effective color balance in your Photoshop images and optimize them for print output. Students explore professional techniques for working with scanned, film, and digital source material, learn how to control, correct, and enhance the color palette of digital images for print media. Course projects emphasize developing a technical knowledge and an artistic understanding of color calibration for professional-quality digital imaging.

PHO 214 Narrative Photography - 3 credits

Explore the use of an editorial approach to photography in order to tell stories with images. Throughout the course you will use conceptualism in conjunction with documentary photography approaches to build photo essays and other narrative projects. Learn how to research, pitch, shoot, edit and present a body of work that encompasses unifying themes.


Financial Aid

Did You Know? Eligible students entering Associate Degree 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

"You'll leave the Digital Photography program with the vocabulary and skills necessary to compete in the rapidly changing marketplace. The curriculum is designed to allow maximum creative freedom while teaching essential skills."

Felicia Kieselhorst, Department Head of Digital Photography

Featured Faculty

Taz Tally Taz Tally is an industry-leading expert in digital imaging and pre-press techniques.
Felicia Kieselhorst Felicia Kieselhorst is a veteran wedding and product photographer.

Career Information

Everyone can snap a photo, but employers want a photographer with more than just a keen eye. To start a successful career in photography, formal training will take you a long way. Do you like the idea of starting your own business? Most photographers are self-employed. Our photography degree program will help you build a foundation for careers across a number of industries. Here are some examples:

  • Broadcasting
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Print Design
  • Promotions
  • Newspapers/periodicals

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

Job Facts

An associate degree in photography can help you begin your career in the field. You can take that first step today. Here are some job statistics to consider:

Facts are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. For more information about photography careers and the community visit: National Press Photographers Association, American Society of Media Photographers, or American Photographic Artists.


Average Income for photographers in printing and related support activities in May 2017 was $63,950 a year.

7 in 10

About 7 in 10 Photographers were self-employed in 2016.

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

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.


Complete your application with essay, work samples, and transcripts.


Ask us about program options and financial aid.


Select your start date and preferred study schedule.

Program At a Glance

Classes start in January, May, and August, with early start options in February, June, and October.

To apply, you'll need to complete our convenient online application and provide an application essay, official transcripts from high school OR for any college degree completed, and 5-10 samples of your art/design work. (Transcripts must be provided for any course you wish evaluated for credit transfer.)

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.

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 .
  • A digital video camera and ability to connect it to a computer to capture footage.
  • Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere CC 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 full-time Associate Degree students is as follows:

Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) Program
$365 per credit
$4,380 per semester
$13,140 per year
$26,280 total program tuition

Tuition for part-time students is $415/credit and paid by semester. Federal financial aid available for eligible students. Ask about our $500-$2,000 scholarships for exemplary applicants.

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. See Associate Degree Tuition and Payment options.

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