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Photographic and Imaging Arts (options in Advertising Photography, Fine Art Photography, Photojournalism, Visual Media) BFA

Therese Mulligan, Ph.D., Administrative Chair
(585) 475-2762, mtmpph@rit.edu

Program overview

The BFA major—with options in advertising photography, fine art photography, photojournalism, and visual media—has a rigorous curriculum designed with individual achievement in mind. It features an immersive and hands-on perspective geared towards creativity and innovation. Enrollment in photography classes begins on day one of the first year. Theoretical and experimental components lead to the development of broad-based skills required of professionals in today’s ever-changing image culture, art world, and industries. With access to more than 150 unique photography, video, multimedia, web-based, and publication courses, students are challenged using real-world problems to produce successful real-world results. Graduates of the photographic and imaging arts program see a 93.4 percent job placement rate after graduation. 

Photographic and imaging arts majors participate in an educational community that includes both undergraduate and graduate studies. It is a community where students have the opportunity to work and study with our highly respected and accomplished faculty in state-of-the-art facilities. The School of Imaging Arts and Sciences also offers a wide array of visiting professionals, events, and talks, including the Charles Arnold Lecture Series and the RIT Big Shot, along with non-credit bearing summer workshops

Options

Advertising photography

The advertising photography option prepares students for diverse and rewarding careers in the field of visual communications. While encouraging and nurturing students’ individual image-making practice, students learn to create photographs and moving media for a wide range of commercial use in today’s fast changing media environment.

The option provides flexibility and specialization within the course curriculum, providing students with a broad overview of the field. Advanced courses allow students to explore a variety of commercial specializations from traditional still life and portraiture, to interdisciplinary courses that model real world team collaborations with graphic designers, new media artists, industrial designers, and computer scientists. The flexibility of the option also enables students to take elective courses from other departments across the university, in majors as diverse as graphic design, visual culture, philosophy, or fine art, in order to enrich their personal visual expression. Within the curriculum, advertising photography students study the inner workings and business aspects of the photographic and imaging industries. In an ever-growing global market, the school encourages and offers many study abroad opportunities for students.

The faculty consists of both full- and part-time professors—all of whom continue their personal photo arts practice and have extensive commercial experience as professional photographers. Students work collaboratively to conceive and execute lens-based work that is both cutting-edge and strategic. Along with conventional print-based imagery, students have the option to work in moving media, emerging and interactive technologies that have real-world application in the commercial industry. Students build a strong professional portfolio throughout their time in the program.

Advertising photography internships

Students participate in internships with some of the nation’s most respected professional photographers, advertising and design agencies, magazine publishers, photography agents, equipment rental, and production services. Working in a variety of commercial and studio environments, students have the opportunity to learn from photographers, picture editors, art directors, and other professionals. In collaboration with their professors and the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, students identify and apply for relevant internships, which provide real-world work experience that becomes an invaluable part of students’ educational experience.

Career opportunities in advertising photography

Advertising photography graduates work as studio photographers, editorial photographers, art directors, and picture editors. A significant number of students also become self-employed freelance photographers. Recent graduates have been hired by Saks Fifth Avenue, Conde Nast Publications, Martha Stewart Living, artist agencies, Neiman Marcus, among many others.

Fine art photography

The fine art photography option prepares students for careers as visual artists, educators, or freelance artists. The primary goal is to nurture the artist’s personal aesthetic vision through photographic expression. Studying the theoretical and practical skills needed to create thought-provoking and meaningful images develops technical, conceptual, and aesthetic abilities, and furthers students' goals as contemporary image-makers. Graduates are employed in a number of professional fine-art related institutions such as museums, archives, studios, and commercial galleries.


The interdisciplinary curriculum enables students to explore other related fields in the fine arts, including painting, drawing, sculpture, graphic design, video, film, animation, printmaking and printing, computer graphics, and web publishing. Foundation and specialized courses include digital imaging workflow, alternative processes, new media, history and aesthetics of photography, and exhibition display.


Students have the opportunity to enroll in independent projects, educational internships, or co-ops in galleries, workshops, or other art and imaging centers. Students may choose to spend a year abroad earning credit in an applicable field of their choosing. Upon graduation, students are prepared to pursue a career in a variety of fine art fields, commercial photography industries, or print and electronic media businesses.

Fine art photography internships

Students apply for internships with some of the nation’s most respected print and online galleries, museums, and workshop providers. They work behind the camera in editorial, commercial, and studio environments and have the opportunity to learn from photographers, picture editors, art directors, curators and other professionals. Students receive assistance from their professors, as well as from the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, in identifying and applying for internships. Internships provide real-world work experience, which is an invaluable part of our students’ educational experience.

Career opportunities in fine art photography

Graduates find careers as exhibiting artists, photo educators, picture editors, art directors, photographers’ representatives, photographic archivists or curators, museum and gallery staff, multimedia specialists, self-employed photographers, custom-image printers, and film/video artists or animators. Many students choose to pursue graduate work and earn an MFA degree in the arts.

Photojournalism

Photojournalism teaches students to produce non-fiction visual reporting that tells the stories of real-life people and events for diverse and modern media outlets including digital and print. Students learn to create and publish both still photographic reporting as well as moving and interactive media that document our diverse culture, evoking both the momentous and the everyday circumstances of contemporary life and society.

The photojournalism option allows flexibility and individual specialization where students can find their primary interest. Students take required courses in photojournalism fundamentals, picture editing, and multimedia, including sound, video-gathering, and video editing. From there, students may choose to take extra courses in an area in which they want further specialization, including picture editing, still photojournalism field-work, or multimedia storytelling.

Students contribute to the creation of special publications centered on community activity and awareness, and provide staff support to RIT’s student-run magazine, The Reporter. Students also have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and New York to meet with potential employers that represent the wide spectrum where photojournalists currently work.

Photojournalism internships

Students apply for internships with some of the nation’s most respected newspapers, websites, and magazines as both photographers and editors. They work behind the camera on a variety of stories and have the opportunity to learn from photographers, editors, and other professionals in the newsroom. Students receive assistance from their professors, as well as from the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, in identifying and applying for internships. Internships provide real-world work experience, which is an invaluable part of students’ educational experience.

Career opportunities in photojournalism

Photojournalism graduates go to work for some of today’s best digital publications, newspapers, and magazines. A significant number of students also become self-employed freelance photographers. They seek freelance assignments with news organizations, picture agencies, non-profits, stock photo agencies, and as editorial photographers. Many graduates are employed as picture editors, website producers, content curators, and television or multimedia editors.   

National Press Photographers Association

Photojournalism students are the driving force in our National Press Photographers Associate (NPPA) student chapter. Students regularly attend activities sponsored by the NPPA, including regional and national conferences. They also publish their own website. The chapter manages a yearly contest of student work that is judged by alumni who also share their experiences in photojournalism and review student portfolios. The chapters also hosts guest speakers. The RIT student chapter was awarded the nation’s top chapter by the NPPA in 2016.

Visual media

Visual media allows students to integrate the graphic communications professions of photography, media design, and business. This option prepares students for a career as a visual
 media specialist or other professional positions that have a demand for photographically skilled professionals who can work effectively with graphic designers, print media specialists, and multimedia professionals.

The visual media curriculum emphasizes photographic proficiency, in both photographic and digital imaging techniques, and has two specialized focuses on media design and business (management and/or marketing). Students also may take college-wide electives to broaden your interests.

This option is ideal for students who wish to experience various aspects of the graphics industry. Students are strongly encouraged to spend time in internships to strengthen their education and to gain hands-on experience. Upon graduation, students are diversely skilled visual media professionals who are ready to enter an exciting career in photography, media design, business management, marketing (including art directing and project management), or advertising. 

Visual media internships

Students apply for internships with some of the nation’s most respected print and online photographic, graphic design firms, and printing/publishing venues. They work behind the camera or in creative collaboration in a variety of professional photo and multimedia environments, and have the opportunity to learn firsthand from photographers, picture editors, art directors, publishers, designers, and other professionals. Students receive assistance from their professors, as well as from the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, in identifying and applying for internships, which provide real-world work experience and is a invaluable part of students’ educational experience.

Career opportunities in visual media

Visual media graduates go to work as graphic designers, multimedia designers, picture editors, social media and app developers, web designers, and advertising project managers. Recent employers include companies such as Crate and Barrel, Zipcar, Geico, MLB.com, and organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, CURE International, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Curriculum

Photographic and imaging arts (advertising photography option), BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
PHAR-101, 102 Photo Arts I, II 8
PHPS-106, 107 Photo Technology I, II 6
FDTN-111 Drawing  3
  LAS Perspective 1 3
ARTH-135 LAS Perspective 2: History of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval 3
ARTH-136 LAS Perspective 3: History of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern 3
  LAS Perspective 5, 6 or 7 3
  First Year Writing Seminar 3
ACSC-010 Year One: College Experience 0
  Wellness Education* 0
Second Year
FDTN-121 2D Design I 3

FDTN-141

4D Design

3
PHAR-202 Elements of Advertising Photography 3
Choose two of the following: 3

   PHAR-201

   Elements of Fine Art Photography

 

   PHAR-203

   Elements of Photojournalism

 
   PHAR-204    Elements of Visual Media  
PHAR-211, 212 Histories and Aesthetics of Photography I, II 6
  Free Electives 6
  LAS Elective 3
Third Year
PHAP-301, 302 Advertising Photography I, II 6
  Advertising Photography Specialization Courses† 6
  Advertising Photography Professional Electives 6
  CIAS Elective§ 3
  LAS Immersion 1, 2 6
  Free Elective 3
Fourth Year
Choose one of the following: 3
   FINC-120    Personal Financial Management  
   MGMT-150    The World of Business  
   MGMT-215    Organizational Behavior  
   MKTG-230    Principles of Marketing  
   MKTG-370    Advertising and Promotion Management  
   MKTG-489    Seminar in Marketing  
  Imaging Core Course 3
  Advertising Photography Capstone I, II 6
  Advertising Photography Specialization Course† 3
  CIAS Electives§ 9
  Free Elective 3
  LAS Immersion 3 3
  Advertising Photography Professional Elective 3
Total Semester Credit Hours 122

Please see New General Education Curriculum–Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) for more information.

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two Wellness courses.

† Please consult an adviser for a complete list of courses that fulfill the advertising specialization requirement.

‡ Please consult an adviser for a complete list of courses that fulfill the professional elective requirement. 

§ CIAS elective refers to any course in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

Photographic and imaging arts (fine art photography option), BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
PHAR-101, 102 Photo Arts I, II 8
PHPS-106, 107 Photo Technology I, II  6
FDTN-111 Drawing  3
  LAS Perspective 1 3
ARTH-135 LAS Perspective 2: History of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval 3
ARTH-136 LAS Perspective 3: History of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern 3
  LAS Perspective 5, 6, or 7 3
  First Year Writing Seminar 3
ACSC-010 Year One: College Experience 0
  Wellness Education* 0
Second Year
Choose one of the following:  3
   PHAR-202    Elements of Advertising Photography  
   PHAR-203    Elements of Photojournalism  
   PHAR-204    Elements of Visual Media  
PHAR-201 Elements of Fine Art Photography 3
PHAR-211, 212 Histories and Aesthetics of Photography I, II 6
FDTN-121 2D Design I 3
FDTN-141 4D Design 3
  LAS Perspective 4 3
   Free Electives 6
  LAS Elective 3
Third Year
PHFA-301, 302 Fine Art Core I, II  6
PHFA-401 Professional Development for Artists 3
  Fine Art Photography Specialization Courses† 6
  Fine Art Photography Professional Electives 6
  CIAS Elective§ 3
  LAS Immersion 1, 2 6
  Free Elective 3
Fourth Year
PHFA-402, 403 Fine Art Portfolio I, II 6
PHFA-401 Professional Development for Artists (WI) 3
  Fine Art Photography Professional Elective 3
  Fine Art Photography Specialization Course† 3
  CIAS Electives§ 9
  Free Elective 3
  LAS Immersion 3 3
Total Semester Credit Hours 122

Please see New General Education Curriculum–Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) for more information.

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two Wellness courses.

† Please consult an adviser for a complete list of courses that fulfill the fine art photography specialization requirement.

§ CIAS elective refers to any course in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

Photographic and imaging arts (photojournalism option), BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
PHAR-101, 102 Photo Arts I, II 8
PHPS-106, 107 Photo Technology I, II  6
FDTN-111 Drawing  3
  LAS Perspective 1 3
ARTH-135  LAS Perspective 2: History of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval 3
ARTH-136 LAS Perspective 3: History of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern 3
  LAS Perspective 5, 6 or 7 3
  First Year Writing Seminar 3
ACSC-010 Year One: College Experience 0
  Wellness Education* 0
Second Year
Choose one of the following: 3
   PHAR-201    Elements of Fine Art  
   PHAR-202    Elements of Advertising  
   PHAR-204    Elements of Visual Media  
PHAR-203 Elements of Photojournalism 3
PHAR-211, 212 History and Aesthetics I, II 6
FDTN-121 2D Design I 3
FDTN-141 4D Design 3
  LAS Perspective 4 3
  Free Electives 6
  LAS Elective 3
Third Year
PHPJ-301 Foundations of Photojournalism 3
PHPJ-302 Photojournalism I 3
PHPJ-307 Ethics and the Law 3
PHPJ-315 Non-Fiction Multimedia 3
  Photojournalism Professional Electives‡ 6
  CIAS Elective§ 3
  LAS Immersion 1 (WI), 2 6
  Free Elective 3
Fourth Year
PHPJ-401 Senior Project (WI) 3
PHPJ-402 Photojournalism Portfolio and Professional Development 3
  Photojournalism Professional Electives‡ 9
  CIAS Electives§ 9
  Free Elective 3
  LAS Immersion 3 3
Total Semester Credit Hours 122

Please see New General Education Curriculum–Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) for more information.

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two Wellness courses.

‡ See adviser for a complete list of photojournalism professional electives. 

§ CIAS elective refers to any course in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

Photographic and imaging arts (visual media option), BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
PHAR-101, 102 Photo Arts I, II 8
PHPS-106, 107 Photo Technology I, II  6
FDTN-111 Drawing 3
  LAS Perspective 1 3
ARTH-135  LAS-Perspective 2: History of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval 3
ARTH-136 LAS-Perspective 3: History of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern 3
  LAS Perspective 5, 6, or 7 3
  First Year Writing Seminar 3
ACSC-010 Year One: College Experience 0
  Wellness Education* 0
Second Year
Choose one of the following 3
   PHAR-201    Elements of Fine Art Photography  
   PHAR-202    Elements of Advertising Photography  
   PHAR-203    Elements: Photojournalism  
PHAR-204 Elements of Visual Media  
PHAR-211, 212 Histories and Aesthetics of Photography I, II 6
FDTN-121 2D Design I 3
FDTN-141 4D Design 3
  LAS Perspective 4 3
  Free Electives 6
  LAS Elective 3
Third Year
Choose one of the following: 6
     Marketing‡  
     Manangement§  
Choose one of the following: 3
     Print Media**  
     Graphic Design††  
  CIAS Elective‡‡ 3
  LAS Immersion 1, 2 6
  Visual Media Professional Electives 6
  Free Elective 3
Fourth Year
Choose one of the following: 3
     Marketing‡  
     Manangement§  
Choose one of the following: 3
     Print Media**  
     Graphic Design††  
PHVM-301 Visual Media Career Research (WI) 3
PHVM-401 Visual Media Capstone 3
  CIAS Electives‡‡ 9
  Free Elective 3
  LAS Immersion 3 3
  Visual Media Professional Elective 3
Total Semester Credit Hours 122

Please see New General Education Curriculum–Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) for more information.

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two Wellness courses.

‡ Students may choose from the following marketing courses: Principles of Marketing (MKTG-230), Internet Marketing (MKTG-320), Product and Services Commercialization (MKTG-340).

§ Students may choose from the following management courses: Organizational Behavior (MGMT-215), Managerial Skills (MGMT-320), Digital Entrepreneurship (MGMT-360).

** Students may choose from the following print media courses: Foundations (MAAT-101), Type and Page Design (MATT-106), Print Production and Workflow (MAAT-206), Database Publishing (MAAT-301).

†† Graphic Design sequence courses include Graphic Design (GRDE-106), Time-based Design (GRDE-107), and Typography (GRDE-201).

‡‡ CIAS elective refers to any course in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

Additional information

Accreditation

All four options of the BFA program in photographic and imaging arts, as well as the MFA program in imaging arts, are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).




Effective fall 2013, RIT converted its academic calendar from quarters to semesters.
View this program's information from the retired quarter calendar

Quarter Curriculum - For Reference Only

Effective fall 2013, RIT converted its academic calendar from quarters to semesters. The following content has been made available as reference only. Currently matriculated students who began their academic programs in quarters should consult their academic adviser for guidance and course selection.
 

Program overview

The programs of the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences are designed to prepare students for a wide range of careers in photographic and related imaging fields. Studies in photographic practices provide both technical and creative experiences for visual problem solving. The principles of imaging are taught through courses investigating the tools and processes used to make pictorial-, data-, and information-based images. All first year students are required to have their own hand held small- or medium-format digital SLR camera and a professional light meter.

Students have the opportunity to supplement their course work with participation in cooperative education, internships, study abroad programs, field trips, presentations by invited guests/guest lecturers, departmental student organizations, and related activities.

Students are urged to take advantage of Rochester’s historic connection with photography. A comprehensive schedule of programs, including exhibitions, lectures, and seminars, is offered by the city’s array of cultural institutions.

Advertising photography option

The advertising photography option prepares students to utilize their skill and creativity in the challenging world of commercial photography. Whether creating images for advertising agencies, magazines, or designer projects, students learn the technical and artistic skills necessary to create successful photographs. Graduates receive a bachelor of fine arts degree in professional photographic illustration.

The program is flexible enough to develop each student’s particular talents, with the ultimate goal of providing art for commerce. During their junior and senior years, students can choose from courses that include editorial, food, portraiture, architectural, and still-life photography. Additional courses include advanced studio and location photography, publication design and production, and collaborative courses with graphic design students. All advertising photography courses emphasize visual communications and professional business practices.

Curriculum

Professional photographic illustration (advertising photography option), BFA degree, typical course sequence (quarters)

Course Qtr. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
2067-201, 202, 203 Photo Arts I, II, III 15
2039-225, 226, 227 Survey of Western Art and Architecture I, II, III 9
2076-211, 212, 213 Materials and Processes of Photography 9
  Liberal Arts* 12
1720-050, 052 First-Year Enrichment 2
  Wellness Education† 0
Second Year
2067-xxx Photo Arts Elements 15
2067-306, 307, 308 History and Aesthetics of Photography 9
2013-211 Drawing I 3
2013-231 2D Design I 3
2013-xxx 4D Design 3
2067-xxx Career Seminar 1
  Liberal Arts* 12
  Wellness Education† 0
Third Year
2067-411, 412 Advertising Photography 10
  Advertising Core‡ 5
  Minor or CIAS Electives§ 18-20
  Business Elective 4
  Liberal Arts* 12
Fourth Year
  Advertising Core‡ 10
2067-473 Portfolio Development 5
  Minor or CIAS Electives**§ 12-20
  Open Electives# 12-15
Total Quarter Credit Hours 184

* Please see Liberal Arts General Education Requirements for more information.

† Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information.

‡ Advertising core, minimum of 15 credits required.

§ RIT-approved minor and/or CIAS elective, minimum 20 credits required.

** Open electives, minimum of 12 credits required