Photography (MFA)

Photography (MFA)

The MFA program provides advanced practice and intensive study of the photographic medium. Core curriculum covers historical perspective, advanced theoretical and conceptual development in traditional, experimental and digital photography capture, post-production and output. The program culminates with a formal thesis project and complete body of work that supports the thesis and showcases each student’s unique vision and talent.


Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree

Available Online

Major Classes

PH 601 Photography Concept Major/3
PH 603 The Language of Photography Major/3
PH 608 Lighting Major/3
PH 612 The Nature of Photography Major/3
PH 616 Photoshop and Lightroom for Photographers Major/3
PH 635 Digital Printing Techniques Major/3
PH 673 Portfolio: Concept and Development Major / 3 / Recommended for Summer


Unit Requirements

Major Coursework Units
Major 33
Directed Study 15
Electives 6
Graduate Liberal Arts 9
Total 63

Degree Requirements


  • Minimum grade of C in all required 63 units.
  • Minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA and the following Academic Study requirements:
    1 Art Historical Awareness & Aesthetic Sensitivity course
    1 Cross Cultural Understanding course
    1 Professional Practices & Communications course

Additional Information

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduate students will meet the following student performance criteria:

MFA Thesis Project

  • Produce an advanced-level thesis project within a digital or traditional specialization, demonstrating mastery and synthesis of the skills taught in the program

Thesis Project Development

  • Propose a solid concept suitable for refinement and development
  • Select an appropriately challenging and feasible project
  • Present a cohesive body of work
  • Successfully articulate the end result of the project
  • Demonstrate sufficient preparation for their project (research, problem solving)

Conceptual and Design Skills

  • Make creative decisions that optimize conceptual impact, cohesiveness and personal style
  • Integrate conceptual and technical elements of photography to convey a story, idea, or emotion
  • Effectively deploy design elements within the composition and presentation of the imagery

Technical Skills

  • Utilize effective lighting styles, techniques and equipment appropriate to art for commerce, photojournalism/documentary, or fine art applications, as determined by projects and professional focus
  • Master exposure, lighting ratios, and post–production skills as appropriate to the project

Communication and Analysis

  • Communicate ideas and proposals clearly, verbally and in writing, including defending work and choices made during capture, output and presentation
  • Demonstrate professional behavior throughout the review process
  • Critique their photographs with an understanding of technical, aesthetic, and historical context
  • Build on feedback to improve their body of work

Professional Readiness

  • Assemble a cohesive portfolio, which shows a unique personal view and style
  • Produce and present professional quality materials
  • Clearly articulate future plans and goals in the area of photographic specialty

Academy of Art University Learning Outcomes
Graduates of the Academy of Art University will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Produce a body of work suitable for seeking professional opportunities in their chosen field of art and design.
  2. Solve creative problems within their field of art and design, including research and synthesis of technical, aesthetic, and conceptual knowledge.
  3. Communicate their ideas professionally and connect with their intended audience using visual, oral, and written presentation skills relevant to their field.
  4. Execute technical, aesthetic, and conceptual decisions based on an understanding of art and design principles.
  5. Evaluate work in their field, including their own work, using professional terminology.
  6. Recognize the influence of major cultural and aesthetic trends, both historical and contemporary, on art and design products.
  7. Learn the professional skills and behaviors necessary to compete in the global marketplace for art and design.
  8. Engage with a variety of communities beyond the classroom through internship opportunities, study abroad programs, athletics, student interest clubs as well as collaborative, civic and pro bono projects.

*Semester plans are subject to change at any time. Semester breakdowns displayed are suggested and additional options are available to help customize your educational experience. Speak to an admissions or student services representative for more information. Please see our catalog for more details at:

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