Online Photography Degree at Sessions College

Online Photography Degree

Associate Degree in Digital Photography

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August 26, 2024

Program Overview

The Sessions College Associate of Occupational Studies in Digital Photography is an intensive two-year online photography 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.

Everyone at Sessions that I encountered has been amazing. Miss Debra in Financial Aid has been amazing, Christopher in Student Services has been very attentive and checks in multiple times a semester. All of the teachers are so helpful and informative in their subjects. They have always made me feel comfortable asking questions.

Janelle Dohve

AOS in Digital Photography, Class of 2022

Student Work By: James Warren, Juliana Satele, Sharon Capps

Truly Affordable Education

Our Fall 2024 tuition is:


50% lower than the average annual cost of tuition at 4-year colleges in the United States.


Significantly more affordable than other online design / digital media colleges.


So affordable that 100% of tuition costs may be covered for eligible students.* Find out today if you qualify.

*Federal student aid and military education benefits available for eligible students.

Studying Online at Sessions

Founded in 1997, Sessions College has delivered accredited and affordable fully online programs for creative professionals for more than 20 years. Earning your Online Photography Degree at Sessions has never been more accessible. Take a virtual college tour in this video!

What Our Students Say

Associate Degree in Digital Photography Curriculum

The Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) 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 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 154 Landscape Photography - 3 credits

Landscape photography can be fascinating and endlessly inspiring, just like the natural world. In this course, you will explore a wide range of concepts and techniques to help you get more out of your nature photography. Each assignment will challenge you to go out and photograph the natural world, exploring compositional concepts and shooting techniques for different kinds of subjects and environments, ranging from macro and mobile to HDR and panoramic shots. To help you organize, edit, and showcase your work, the course will explore editing techniques using Adobe Lightroom. By the end of the course, you'll have created a stunning portfolio of images celebrating your favorite natural location(s).

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 Lightroom - 3 credits

Learn to manage, develop, print, and present your shots efficiently with Adobe Lightroom Classic. 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 take advantage of advanced production techniques and workflows such as Smart Collections.

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.

Associate Degree in Digital Photography Program Outcomes

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

1. Photography

Demonstrate effective and efficient use of a digital camera to create photographs applying well considered framing, exposure, composition, perspective, distance, and lighting.

2. Lighting

Stage and setup photoshoots by adapting for a variety of typical settings, lighting situations, and project goals.

3. Technology and Image Enhancement

Apply and demonstrate retouching and color correction techniques to improve or enhance photographic images to a professional level utilizing software including Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and other industry technologies.

4. Art/Design Principles

Demonstrate the ability to produce visually compelling work by applying knowledge of color, pattern, details, and composition.

5. Projects

Produce and present a variety of professional photographic work in a wide range of settings including portraiture, event photography, real estate, food photography, and more.

6. Critical Thinking and Writing

Employ critical thinking to generate, support, and convey ideas through writing for academic or professional contexts.

7. Portfolio

Apply creative problem solving and constructive feedback to conceive, produce, and present an impactful body of work that showcases your skills to employers and potential clients.

Outcomes Assessment

To learn more about our outcomes assessment process, visit our Academic Team.

Student Work

Program Benefits

Launch your Creative Career

Earn a degree and launch your creative career in our most rigorous 2-year program.


By Creatives, for Creatives

Collaborate with a community of creative learners and industry professionals.

Maximize Your Portfolio

Projects put you through your paces as you build a body of work. Your program culminates with a guided portfolio review.


Structure and Flexibility

Weekly deadlines keep you on track, but with no set login times you can build your studies around your schedule.

Education You Can Afford

Affordable programs with low per credit tuition, and financial aid available for those who qualify.


Convenient Online Application

Fast, convenient, and student-centered application process.


Taz Tally Dr. Taz Tally is an industry-leading expert in digital imaging and pre-press techniques.
Natalie La Scala is a Denver-based media artist and educator.
Felicia Kieselhorst is a veteran wedding and product photographer.


Get expert feedback in classes taught by our industry-leading faculty.

Instructor Biography Degree(s) Earned
Andrew Shalat

Andrew Shalat is an author, designer/illustrator, educator, and Mac expert who is a regular speaker at Macworld and has written several books on design for McGraw-Hill and Peachpit Press.

  • MFA, Savannah College of Art and Design
  • MA in English and American Literature, Brandeis University
  • BA in English Language and Literature, State University of New York at Stonybrook

Carolyn Zaikowski is the author of the novel A Child Is Being Killed (Aqueous Books, 2013) whose fiction, poetry, and essays have been published widely.

  • MFA in Creative Writing, Naropa University, CO
  • BFA in Psychology, University of Massachusetts, MA

Felicia Kieselhorst is freelance photographer with her own business based in Oakland, CA. Felicia specializes in wedding and product photography, and works in digital and film photography, using primarily Nikon, Hasselblad, and an array of toy cameras.

  • MFA in Photography, Academy of Art University, BA in Visual Arts
  • Photography Concentration, Chatham University

Kevin Hedgpeth is an Arizona native who makes his home in Phoenix, where he actively writes and illustrates in addition to teaching college-level visual arts courses. He is co-author and illustrator of several published books.

  • BA in Studio Art at Arizona State University, AZ
Kristen Becker

Kristen Becker is an educator and a graphic and business designer specializing in e-commerce. With over 12 years of experience as an award-winning educator, Kristen has developed curriculum and taught courses in graphic design, multimedia, and e-commerce/marketing.

  • MA in Digital Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art
  • BA in Environmental Systems, University of Maryland

Natalie La Scala is a Denver-based media artist with 20 years of work experience in creative direction, project management, and higher education. Recent clients include Z1CareerZone, Engage, LLC, and the Performing Arts Academy.

  • MFA in Film and Television, Savannah College of Art and Design
  • BA in Studio Art, University of Kentucky
Piper Nilsson Faculty profile image

Piper Nilsson is a graphic/Web designer and educator. Piper has been working with the Web since 1997, working in various roles as a designer, programmer, and information architect, Piper blueprinted sites for such global clients as MetLife, Pepsi, ETS, and Citibank.

  • AOS in Graphic Design, Pratt, NY
Taz Tally

Dr. Taz Tally is the president of Taz Tally Seminars and Taz Tally Photography and author of numerous graphics and print production books and instructional videos, CDs, DVDs and online training courses on scanning, prepress and printing, Photoshop, and color correction.

  • PhD in Geology, University of California Santa Barbara, CA

View all faculty.

Career Outlook for Photographers

Photographers produce creative work for a myriad of clients including capturing images (digital and video) for commercial, industrial, news, and scientific uses, and projects for print, web, and a variety of media including television, film, and live streaming. Photographers need to demonstrate technical expertise, artistic ability, business skills, computer skills, customer-service skills, detail oriented, and interpersonal skills.

Job Titles

Graduates could be employed as an Aerial, Commercial, Industrial, Drone, Fine Arts, News, Portrait, and Scientific Photographer, or Video Editor, Content Producer, Art Manager, and Videographer.

Median Annual Wage

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual wage* for photographers was $40,760.

In May 2023, the median hourly wages for photographers in these top industries they work within:

Media and communication equipment workers$25.89
Total, all occupations$23.11

*per May 2023 reporting

In May 2023, the median annual wages for camera operators, television, video, and film in these top industries they work within:

Motion picture and video industries$75,800
Professional, scientific, and technical services$56,010

In May 2023, the median annual wages for film and video editors in these top industries they work within:

Motion picture and video industries$75,560
Professional, scientific, and technical services$59,980

Largest Areas of Employment

Largest employment opportunities for photographers (by percentage) were as follows:

Self-employed workers69%
Photographic services16%

Largest employment opportunities for camera operators, television, video, and film were:

Self-employed workers33%
Motion picture and video industries27%
Professional, scientific, and technical services10%

Largest employment opportunities for film and video editors were:

Motion picture and video industries37%
Self-employed workers34%
Professional, scientific, and technical services10%

Job Projections

Employment opportunities for photographers are projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032.

There are about 13,900 openings projected for photographers each year, on average, over the decade.

Employment opportunities for film and video editors and camera operator jobs are projected to grow 7 percent from 2022 to 2032.

There are about 8,200 openings projected for film and video editors and camera operators each year, on average, over the decade.


To learn more about this field, visit: American Society of Media Photographers. For more information about testing and obtaining certification to operate commercial drones or unmanned aerial systems (UASs), visit Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). For more information about university photographers, visit University Photographers’ Association of America.

Getting Started

Our Online Photography Degree application process makes getting started easy, fast, and convenient.

How Do I Apply?

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

We have a convenient and student-friendly online application process.

To apply, simply complete our application form and provide transcripts, an application essay, and 5-10 samples or art/design work or alternative written assignment, and a $75 application fee. Applications are reviewed by our Acceptance Committee and generally returned within a business week. See our complete application guide and credit transfer policy.

You can begin your creative journey by completing our online application today. There is no charge until you submit your application materials and no obligation to enroll.

How Long is the Program?

The Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) program is a 72 credit program completed in six semesters or two years by a student on a full-time schedule. Students with transfer credit can graduate in under two years and part-time schedules are available.

Will the Program Fit My Schedule?

Weekly deadlines help you stay on track. And with no set login times, you can build your studies around your schedule, wherever you are located. That’s why more than 50% of our degree students complete their programs while working full-time. 

What Software or Supplies Do I Need?

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

  • Mac or Windows computer with an Internet connection.
  • Access to a standalone digital camera with manual control over ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, and White Balance, that allows for shooting in RAW format.
  • 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.

What are the Program Costs?

Truly Affordable Tuition. Since our founding in 1997, we have been committed to making the highest-quality design and digital media education available at the lowest cost.

Our truly affordable Fall 2024 tuition is:

Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) Program - Fall 2024 Tuition
$300 per credit
$3,600 per semester
$7,200 per academic year
$21,600 total program tuition

Per-credit tuition is the same full-time and part-time students. Federal financial aid available for eligible students. Ask about our $500-$3,000 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 Degree Program Admissions.

Is Financial Aid available?

Federal Student Aid. Federal student aid is available to students who qualify. If you are eligible, you may be able to fund your program using Pell Grants and Federal student loans. Check out our Financial Aid Information pages and ask to set up an interview with our Financial Aid Director.

Military Student Aid. Military servicemembers and their families who are eligible for GI Bill Education Benefits or active service member Tuition Assistance (TA) may also be able to utilize these programs to pay for their education.

Adult Learner Scholarships. Ask about our innovative scholarships for adult learners. The Designed for You Scholarship Program can help you offset your tuition costs.

Accreditations and Approvals

Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)

Get Started Today

Take the first step on a rewarding creative journey towards earning an Associate Degree in Digital Photography.

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