Visual Media Option - Photographic and Imaging Arts BFA

Overview for Visual Media Option - Photographic and Imaging Arts BFA

The visual media option allows students to integrate the graphic communications professions of photography, media design, and business. Most visual media students earn a minor in 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, multimedia and social media professionals. This option is part of the photographic and imaging arts BFA program.

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 utilize electives to broaden their 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), social media, or advertising.



  • Design

  • Advertising, PR, and Marketing

Careers and Experiential Learning

Typical Job Titles

Art Director Branding Specialist
Business Owner and Entrepreneur Business Strategist
Graphic Designer Photo and Graphics Editor
Photographer Project Manager
Social Media Strategist Web App and Print Designer

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.

Visual Media Internships: Students in the visual media option 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 an 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,, and organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, CURE International, and the Museum of Modern Art.

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 Visual Media Option - Photographic and Imaging Arts BFA

Photographic and Imaging Arts (visual media 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-Global 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
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 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).
Histories and Aesthetics of Photography I
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 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).
CAD Electives
General Education – Social Perspective
General Education – Ethical Perspective
Open Electives
Third Year
Any 200-level SCB Business Course
Sequence Core Course
Visual Media Professional Electives‡
CAD Elective§
General Education – Immersion 1 (WI-GE), 2
Open Elective
Fourth Year
Visual Media Career Research
This course will introduce students to the practical methods for researching possible careers and opportunities after graduation. Using Internet and library research, students will identify a career field that might interest them. Further investigations will focus on the realities of working in that environment so that further decisions can be made leading to that career. This course is required for all 3rd year Visual Media majors. (Prerequisite: PHAR-204 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Visual Media Capstone (WI-PR)
This course is the second required for all 4th year students in visual media and is the last required course in the curriculum. Students will be finalize their career preparation in anticipation of entry into the industry of choice. This course will require a major media project, allowing students to create a package/portfolio that represents their photographic, design, printing and management skills. (This course is restricted to PHIMAG-BFA, VISMED-BFA, PHVMEDIA or PHITLL-BFA students who have completed First-Year Writing.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Sequence Core Course
CAD Electives§
Open Elective
Any 200-level SCB Business Course 
General Education – Immersion 3
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 advisor for a complete list of courses that fulfill the visual media specialization requirement.

‡ Please consult an advisor 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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