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What Classes Do I Need to Get a Master's in Photojournalism?

by Van Thompson, studioD

A master's degree in photojournalism can prepare you for a careers such as journalistic photography and private wedding and event photography. You'll have to complete an undergraduate degree before you can pursue your master's. Some schools offer master's degrees in photojournalism, while others require student's to pursue a master's in journalism or photography and then specialize in photojournalism. Every program has slightly different requirements, but most programs require that you learn basic photojournalism standards and techniques.


No matter where you attend school, you'll have to take classes introducing you to the basics of photojournalism. At Boston University, for example, students have to take advanced photojournalism during their first semester. In your photojournalism classes, you'll learn the mechanics of camera operation, the elements of good storytelling, photographic techniques and photojournalistic styles. You may also learn about theories of photojournalism and various approaches photographers use in their trade.

Development and Editing

Whether you're using digital or film cameras, you'll have to learn how to process your images. Corcoran College of Art and Design, for example, requires students to take a class in editing and production, while Boston University requires classes in digital fundamentals and photo editing. You'll learn how to properly process your images to get the clearest, most compelling picture and will master the use of popular photo editing programs.

Ethics and Law

Photojournalists often have to make challenging ethical decisions. For example, when is it acceptable to photograph a person being injured or suffering serious pain? Classes in photographic ethics and legal considerations can prepare you to face these dilemmas. The University of California at Berkeley requires at least one ethics class, while Boston University requires a class in media law and ethics. You'll learn about legal restraints on photographers, how the rules differ between countries and contexts and how best to comply with journalistic ethics and laws.

Seminar and Thesis

At many universities, you'll have to take a seminar during your last year of school. This seminar could involve a supervised project or might be an in-depth examination of common issues in photojournalism. At Corcoran College of Art and Design, students are required to take three seminar classes. You might also have to create a thesis, which will likely be a body of photojournalistic work expanding on a specific concept within the field.

About the Author

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images