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Photojournalism Careers: Looking at Photojournalism Degree Requirements

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 10/28/2010

Here is a look into the photojournalism degree through the requirements, coursework, and degree types.

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    A Career as a Photojournalist

    Photojournalism is a career that owes itself just as much to that of the reporter and communicator as it does to a photographer as a visual artist. Photojournalism does not tend to look as creatively composed as that of fine art or fashion photography, but it may be even more difficult to manage as you look into the elements of story, investigative journalism, observance, ethics, and all the other elements that combine to create the multifaceted construction of photojournalism. Just as with most professions, you will really need to take a look at education to join photojournalism as a career, but it is debatable exactly what your degree would look like and what the photojournalism degree requirements would be.

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    Journalism or Photography

    If you are looking into a career in photojournalism and are looking to get a photojournalism degree to support it, you may have some negotiations to make. A degree in photojournalism specifically is not all that common, and instead you may have to focus on one of the two elements that make this up. In this situation you should begin to look at what specifically about photojournalism interests you the most so that you can try to shift more in that direction. If you consider yourself primarily a journalist that chooses to focus in on the image then it may be best to look into a journalism program that allows for a focus or minor in photojournalism that you can the augment with photo art classes.

    If you see yourself as a photo artist that wants to fit into the pattern and ethics of photojournalism then you should try to get a degree in photography in a broader sense and then look into a minor in journalism. You can also try to acquire a double major in photography and journalism, but you are going to need to have classes about photojournalism specifically because it is such a specific type of photography that has its own aesthetic and reporting principles that are unique.

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    Photojournalism Degrees, Internships, and Portfolio

    There are some schools that offer degrees in photojournalism specifically, such as the Rochester Institute of Technology's famed photo program's Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photojournalism. If you are looking over your photojournalism degree requirements there is likely going to be a focus on projects and portfolio work, but the photojournalism degree requirements will likely involve coursework that will bridge everything else in the profession. These photojournalism degree requirements may be things like research methods, writing classes, publishing classes, and other coursework that focuses on the mass media. More than likely this will also focus in on photojournalism internships as the field is incredibly competitive and you are going to need experience to start out. If the photojournalism internships are not part of the degree requirements specifically, you will need to focus in on acquiring several photojournalism internships before graduating so that you can build your resume. You will also expect to have less knowledge of photo editing programs like Adobe Photoshop since there is less alteration done in photojournalism.

    Your portfolio and work is going to be your most important element once you are applying for positions as this will indicate the quality of your work much more than your photojournalism degree. Make sure that your coursework and photojournalism degree requirements support the development of a large portfolio as well as a knowledge of where to start when career hunting in photojournalism.

Photojournalism 101

Whether you are simply looking for the definition of photojournalism, are considering a career in this field, or want to learn tips and techniques on mastering this type of photography, here are several articles that will help you learn what photojournalism is all about.
  1. The Definition of Photojournalism: Looking at Ethics in Photojournalism
  2. Basic Principles of Photojournalism
  3. Photojournalism Careers: Looking at Photojournalism Degree Requirements
  4. Photojournalism Photography: Capturing Events (Pre-Shooting)
  5. Preparing for Your First Shoot as a Photojournalist