The Benefits of Getting a Master's Degree in Photography
September 3, 2014
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What are the benefits of getting a master's degree in photography? It's a question that has been asked by many who are already in school or who are thinking about continuing their education in the arts. While a degree in photography is not always necessary to forge a successful career path in the field, it can be very useful for those looking to teach or specialize in a skill.
What Is an MFA?
Many post-graduate photography degrees come in the form of a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). One specializes in a specific area in these degree programs; specific areas of study could be anything from Creative Writing to Graphic Design. An MFA in photography would provide graduates the academic background needed to teach approaches to photography, various specialized or advanced photographing techniques, development, and theoretical and academic approaches.
The Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) accredits art schools in the United States and Canada and describes the MFA in the following way:
"The MFA (Master of Fine Arts) is a specialized, terminal degree available on the graduate level in both fine arts and design. The same aspects that distinguish a BFA from a BA distinguish an MFA from an MA. The MFA is a concentrated 'professional' degree for students seeking advanced education prior to becoming practicing artists or designers. ... In virtually every state in the country, the MFA is considered a 'terminal' degree in fine and applied arts majors. That is, there is no higher-level degree available or required for the practice-oriented student."
While there are no licenses or certification requirements for photographers to work, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that photographers should see only a 4 percent employment increase between 2012 and 2022. This means that those with master's degrees in the discipline are more likely to be hired as the demand for photographers increases.
Employers will generally hire those with more educational skills (coupled with a great photography portfolio), so people with advanced degrees in this field are likely able to save time that a budding photographer usually spends acquiring clients, building a portfolio and practicing techniques that were introduced at the undergraduate level.
Savvy employers will always strike a balance between the academic, theoretical and technical training aspects of almost any potential candidate. When it comes to hiring a photographer, similar rules apply, indicating that a master's degree in photography can only help open doors of opportunity rather than shut them.
Application and Specialty
Photographers with advanced degrees provide an array of services in various industries. Photojournalism, landscape photography, technical photography, advertising, cinematography and the film industry are all areas in which photographers with advanced work. Many photographers find business education appealing and open their own studios and work as freelancers for commercial arenas, weddings and in both the medical and natural scientific fields.
Those looking to teach photography at the college level will almost always need a master's degree in photography. Courses provided to students run the gamut from Art History and Criticism to the Psychology of Image-Making. These are just some of the many benefits of getting a master's degree in photography.
Students who do not wish to teach in an academic setting or open their own photography studio will find that there are other benefits of getting a master's degree in photography. Film directors, cinematographers, animators, graphic designers and stagecraft managers have all found advanced degrees in photography advantageous to their professions.
A master's degree in photography is certainly worth considering for an excellent career path and for the long-term future, and it can provide an advantageous edge over other job seekers.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons