Photojournalism Option - Photographic and Imaging Arts BFA

Overview for Photojournalism Option - Photographic and Imaging Arts BFA

The photojournalism option teaches students to produce non-fiction visual reporting that tells the stories of people, social issues 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. This option is part of the Photographic and Imaging Arts BFA program.

Students then 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.

Career Opportunities in Photojournalism

Photojournalism graduates go on to work for some of today’s leading digital and print publications, as well in other types of organizations that capitalize on our students' visual storytelling skills. Our graduates are regularly recognized for their outstanding work. Eleven alumni have won a combined 15 Pulitzer Prizes for their work in visual journalism. 

In addition to photographers and videographers, many graduates are employed as picture editors, website producers, content curators, archivists, social media producers, and filmmakers. A significant number of graduates also become self-employed freelance photographers, videographers, and editors who work with news and editorial organizations, picture agencies, production companies, non-profits, government agencies, and other types of organizations.

National Press Photographers Association

Photojournalism students are the driving force in the school's National Press Photographers Associate (NPPA) student chapter. Students regularly attend activities sponsored by the NPPA, including regional and national conferences. 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.


Careers and Experiential Learning

Typical Job Titles

Director of Photography Multimedia Editor
Multimedia Journalist Multimedia Producer
Photojournalist Picture Editor
Picture Researcher Visual Archivist

Cooperative Education and Internships

What’s different about an RIT education? It’s the career experience you gain by completing cooperative education and internships with top companies in every single industry. You’ll earn more than a degree. You’ll gain real-world career experience that sets you apart.

Co-ops and internships take your knowledge and turn it into know-how. Co-op in the College of Art and Design provides hands-on experience that enables you to apply your artistic capabilities in dynamic professional settings while you make valuable connections between classwork and real-world applications.

Photojournalism Internships: Students apply for internships as photographers, videographers, editors, and producers with some of the nation’s most respected digital and print publications, as well as other types of organizations. Visual storytelling is central in a rapidly evolving world and the types of positions for which our students apply continues to expand dramatically. In these positions, students work collaboratively and have the opportunity to learn from leading industry 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 students’ educational experience. 

Creative Industry Day

RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education hosts Creative Industry Day, which connects students majoring in art, design, film and animation, photography, and select computing majors with companies, organizations, creative agencies, design firms, and more. You'll be able to network with company representatives and interview directly for open co-op and permanent employment positions.

Featured Work

Featured Profiles

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Photojournalism Option - Photographic and Imaging Arts BFA

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Photographic and Imaging Arts (photojournalism option), BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
Any 100-level ARTH course (General Education-Artistic Perspective)
Any 100-level ARTH course (General Education-Artistic Perspective)
Drawing I
This course is an introduction to the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, and assigned projects. Designed to provide a broad introductory experience, students will experiment with a wide variety of media, tools, techniques and subjects to develop drawing expertise and problem solving skills related to design and composition. Course work will be assessed through critique, facilitating self-assessment, and the growth of both a visual and verbal vocabulary. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication. (Undergraduate Art and Design) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring).
2D Design I
This course is a structured, cumulative introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design. Organized to create a broad introductory experience, the course focuses on the development of both a visual and a verbal vocabulary as a means of exploring, developing and understanding two-dimensional compositions. Concepts are introduced through lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, assigned projects and critiques. The course addresses a wide variety of media, tools, techniques both traditional and technological, and theoretical concepts to facilitate skill development and experimentation with process. Visual comprehension, the ability to organize perceptions and horizontal thinking that crosses other disciplines and theories, are key foundational components to the development of problem solving skills. Accumulative aspects of the curriculum included the exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience. (Undergraduate Art and Design) Studio 6 (Fall, Spring).
Photographic Arts I
This course will provide an immersive introduction to the field of the photographic arts. It will emphasize both craft and visual problem solving. The course will explore: seeing and appreciating the quality of light, image capture, photographic vision, historical and contemporary genres of photography, best practices and workflow as well as an introduction to the critique forum and its practices. (Co-requisites: PHPS-106 or equivalent course.) Critique 2 (Fall, Spring).
Photographic Arts II
This course will reinforce and build upon the skills learned in the first semester of Photographic Arts I. It will emphasize aesthetics, craft, visual problem solving and critical thinking skills - the foundations of the Photographic Arts curriculum. In this semester, the studio will be introduced as a space that can be used to create and control light. This course's curriculum will continue to emphasize both craft and visual problem solving required in high-level photographic imaging. (Prerequisites: PHAR-101 or equivalent course.) Critique 2 (Fall, Spring).
Photographic Technology I (General Education)
This is the first in a two-course sequence that explores the technology of photography. This course demonstrates the application of physics, mathematics and optical science to the technology of image making. The course also provides the students with the opportunity to employ statistical data analysis to identify trends through laboratory exercises utilizing principles of scientific inquiry. Among the topics explored are the optics and physics of image formation, lens evaluation, light sources, digital light-sensitive materials, digital workflows, variability, quality control and photographic effects. Lab 2 (Fall).
Photographic Technology II
This is the second course in a two-semester course based in the study of the technology of photography, with emphasis on applications to real world photographic problems. Among the topics studied will include color vision, Munsell color system, CIELAB system, color theory, color management, digital color balance during post-processing, digital tone reproduction, and digital workflows. (Prerequisite: PHPS-106 or equivalent course.) Lab 2 (Spring).
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies. Lecture 1 (Fall, Spring).
General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
Choose one of the following:
   General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective
   General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective
   General Education – Mathematical Perspective A or B
Second Year
4D Design
4D Design introduces students to the basic concepts of art and design in time and space. The course explores elements of moving images such as continuity, still and moving image editing, transitions and syntax, sound and image relations, and principles of movement. Computers, video, photo, sound and lighting equipment are used to create short-form time-based work relevant to students in all majors and programs required to take this course. The course addresses the both historical conventions of time in art and recent technological advances, which are redefining the fields of Fine Art and Design. In focusing on the relations between students' spacing and timing skills, 4D Design extends and supplements the other Foundation courses, and prepares students for further work with time-based media. (Undergraduate Art and Design) Lab 5 (Fall, Spring).
Elements of Photojournalism
This course will serve an introduction to visual story telling as it relates to professional photojournalism. It will provide relevant practice in basic technical, compositional and interpersonal skills necessary in all aspects of modern photography. Students will be exposed to photojournalism - documentary, editorial, narrative and editing - as well as explorations of current career possibilities. Lectures, critiques, demonstrations and assignments will provide participants the opportunity to explore the still, audio, and multimedia strategies used for story telling in this era. Students will be expected to meet tight project deadlines and participate in both class discussions, critiques and practices required to be successful in this field. If you are pursuing the Photojournalism option this course is required. (Prerequisites: PHPS-102 or PHAR-102 or PHAR-161 or equivalent course.) Lab 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Histories and Aesthetics of Photography I (General Education)
The objective of this course, part one of a two semester sequence, is to present an overview of the multiple, intersecting histories and aesthetic practices of photography as utilized for fine art, snapshot, documentary, scientific, commercial and propaganda purposes in a global perspective. Course lectures include the medium's pre-history and a detailed development of the camera obscura. Students will learn about many technical processes, as well as, the multiple interpretations of notable images during the period 1800-1915. Lecture 3 (Fall, Summer).
Histories and Aesthetics of Photography II
The objective of this course, the second course of a two-semester sequence, is to present an overview of the multiple, intersecting histories and aesthetic practices of photography from the development of Modernism to the present, including the medium's transformation by digital imaging in the 21st century. Photography's applications within fine art, documentary, scientific, journalistic, commercial and vernacular practices will be investigated within a global perspective, but primary emphasis is placed upon developments and movements within the United States and Europe. Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).
Choose one of the following:
   Elements of Fine Art Photography
This course will offer students an introduction to the discipline of fine art photography. Conceptually driven projects will be investigated through a variety of photographic techniques; reading, writing and discussion about the intent and meaning of photographic imagery will be emphasized. Aspects of still photography and moving imagery as artistic choices and practices will be presented. The goal of the course is to establish theoretical, aesthetic and technical strategies for the production of photographic artwork. If you are pursing the Fine Art Photography option this course is required. (Prerequisites: PHPS-102 or PHAR-102 or PHAR-161 or equivalent course.) Lab 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
   Elements of Advertising Photography
This course will provide an introduction to the field of commercial photography, as well as encourage students to develop their own artistic vision. Students will create images from assignments that relate to projects they will encounter after graduation. They will be instructed in the basic photographic skills needed in the commercial field. Practical use of exposure metering and digital workflow will be discussed. Training will be provided in the use of professional cameras and lighting equipment, as well as developing a web presence. Portraiture and still life photography will be covered both in the studio and on location. Students will learn about career choices available in the commercial photography business. (Prerequisites: PHPS-102 or PHAR-102 or equivalent course.) Lab 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
   Elements of Visual Media
This course will provide an introduction to the professional opportunities where the fields of photography, graphic design and print media overlap. Students will develop an understanding of the working relationships between professionals involved in each of the three career areas. Successful visual media experts require a contemporary understanding of the business practices necessary to manage the workflow, financial operations and personnel necessary for success. Students in this class will experience the breadth of interactions between these three career paths, and appreciate the management necessary in their dynamic relationships. Students pursing the Visual Media option are required to take this course. (Prerequisites: PHPS-102 or PHAR-102 or PHAR-161 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
General Education – Social Perspective
General Education – Ethical Perspective
CAD Elective
Open Electives
Third Year
Foundations of Project Development (WI-PR)
This course is designed to help students develop and refine project ideas and write a successful project proposal. Students will develop ideation techniques and research skills necessary to create a written proposal that describes, in detail, their intention and process. Students will learn how to develop the infrastructure necessary to successfully see their idea through to completion. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
Photojournalism I
This course will explore the use of the photographic image in narrative, documentary and editorial form. There will be an emphasis on publication, public need and independent projects. Lectures, critiques, demonstrations and assignments will provide participants the opportunity to explore the still, audio, video, and multimedia aspects of story telling. Students will be expected to meet project deadlines and participate in both class discussions and critiques. (Prerequisites: PHAR-203 or equivalent course.) Lab 3 (Fall).
Picture Editing
This course focuses on image selection, usage and design. Using images from a variety of sources, we discuss picture selection relative to context and desired impact in print and online. Effective use of images for a variety of story applications are discussed. Design techniques that maximize impact and storytelling are investigated, including scaling, proportion, sequencing, visual variety and sizing. Students will design a number of assignments from single pages to multi-page essays of varying length. Students will design a number of single pages to multi-page essays for various publishing and storytelling platforms that include print, online, and mobile delivery. (Prerequisites: PHAR-201 or PHAR-202 or PHAR-203 or PHAR-204 or equivalent course.) Lab 3 (Spring).
Ethics and Law
This course will introduce students to the principles and theories of ethics and their application to editorial photography and photojournalism for mass communications. It will establish a basic understanding of philosophical ethics, social responsibility, and professional practices within protections and responsibilities of the First Amendment. The course will also review the legal issues relating to photographic practices and access to subjects. The course will examine a wide range of case examples used in classroom discussion and analysis to build a foundation for professional practice. (This course is available to RIT degree-seeking undergraduate students.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Non-Fiction Multimedia
This course will teach students how to tell stories in the digital world. Students will learn the skills necessary to gather and edit audio and how to combine audio, images, and text for compelling online storytelling. In addition to basic technical skills, the course will explore contemporary concepts for effective multimedia storytelling. (Prerequisites: PHAR-203 or equivalent courses.) Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).
Advanced Non-Fiction Multimedia
This course will provide students with advanced multimedia techniques and introduces photographers to storytelling and reporting using still cameras with video and sound capture features. Students will research and produce multimedia work in class. (Prerequisites: PHPJ-315 or equivalent course.) Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).
CAD Elective§
General Education – Immersion 1, 2
Open Elective
Fourth Year
Photojournalism Capstone 1 (WI-PR)
This is the first of a two-course capstone sequence for students in photojournalism. Students will create an independent senior capstone project proposal that also demands the student research. Students will have the support and guidance of a faculty member. The students will research and plan for the production of a visual media presentation, a book/hardcopy portfolio or a collaborative editing portfolio and a written statement and conclusion. Course will include weekly group presentations on various topics to include time management, research, planning, photographic and photojournalistic subjects. (Prerequisites: PHPJ-301 or equivalent course and completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement.) Lab 5 (Fall).
Photojournalism Capstone 2
This course will explore career options, assess individual skills and temperament, and establishes initial and long-term career goals for each student. Students develop portfolios with an emphasis on their established goals. Issues in new media and forms of presentation are addressed, as well as building a professional life beyond the entry-level job. Job research, resume development, preparation, application and interviewing skills are incorporated into an examination of the changes in media publications and their use of photographers and photographic images. (Prerequisites: PHPJ-401 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
CAD Electives§
Open Elective
General Education – Immersion 3
Photojournalism Professional Electives‡
Total Semester Credit Hours

Please see General Education Curriculum (GE) 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 different Wellness courses.

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

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

§ CAD elective refers to any course in the College of Art and Design.

** Please consult an advisor for a complete list of imaging core courses.

Admissions and Financial Aid

This option is part of the Photographic and Imaging Arts BFA. Please visit the degree program page for admission requirements.

Learn How to Apply

Financial Aid and Scholarships

100% of all incoming first-year and transfer students receive aid.

RIT’s personalized and comprehensive financial aid program includes scholarships, grants, loans, and campus employment programs. When all these are put to work, your actual cost may be much lower than the published estimated cost of attendance.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships

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