Oct 21, 2021  
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2019-20 
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2019-20 [Archived Catalog]

Photography - MA

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Degree Title and Name:  Master of Arts in Photography

Program Name and Number:  Photography – MA6926

Department/Unit:  School of Visual Communication

Delivery Mode:  Athens campus

Term(s) of Entry:  Fall

Program Overview:  VisCom offers a program of study leading to the Master of Arts degree with a specialization in visual communication. Major fields of study include: Photojournalism (including documentary photography), Commercial Photography (including illustrative photography), Informational Graphics (including data visualization) & Interactive Design (including UX & IA), and Visual Media Management. Students in this graduate program study a range of coursework in their chosen concentration, as well as adding to their studies through elective courses to meet their goals. Students will push their skills in this area to the next level through advanced coursework, interacting with our professional faculty and collaborating with award-winning peers and students.


Photojournalism: Using photography as a communication tool to show others people and situations, the courses focus on documentary photojournalism and provide students the opportunity to go in-depth in their approach including editorial, essay, picture story and magazine. Graduates in this major work in the news and communication field and take on roles at magazines and newspapers as well as having successful freelance careers. They also work as picture editors, event photographers and multimedia editors. This sequence takes three semesters to complete, and many students opt to continue a fourth to expand coursework and/or work on their master’s project.

Commercial Photography: This sequence focuses on advertising photography, product/still-life photography, fashion/portrait photography, commercial video, architectural and interior design photography, and the business aspects of operating a photographic studio. Commercial photography graduates go on to become studio owners, magazine photo editors, digital retouchers and photographers within the advertising industry. This sequence takes three semesters to complete, and many students opt to continue a fourth to expand coursework and/or work on their master’s project.

Information Graphics, Publication Design and Interactive Design: This sequence combines the professional practice of publication design, data visualization and information graphics design as well as user experience and front-end web design using best practices in user experience and interactive architecture. Students do their storytelling through design and typography, graphics, websites, mobile platforms, and other methods of choice such as motion graphics and video. Graduates of this program work as designers, information graphic designers, interactive and user experience designers, website developers, and art, creative and communications directors. This sequence takes three semesters to complete, and many students opt to continue a fourth to expand coursework and/or work on their master’s project.

Visual Communication Management: This sequence is an intense two-semester program geared toward students with 5+ years of experience in the visual communication profession, including those who want to develop skills within visual communication industries. A broad program, this sequence gives the opportunity for students to choose more than half of their coursework to fit their goals, including audio/video storytelling, management, design, interactive, photography and picture editing, applying these skills to creative production work, collaboration and discussion. Graduates of this program find leadership positions as picture editors, editors, directors of photography and leaders in interaction and design, as well as other areas of visual communication.

Program Learning Objectives:

  • Equip students with the necessary skills to be successful in the visual communication profession, with the background and motivation to enable them to compete for leadership roles in the field.
  • Provide assistance and professional guidance in visual communication to working photographers, editors, designers and other personnel working in newspapers, media companies, magazines, photography departments, trade associations, studios, online outlets, creative firms, agencies, and other visual communication outlets.
  • Understanding of the high standards of visual integrity and aesthetics as well as communication ethics.
  • Promote and foster scholarly research and creative activities.
  • Opportunities for Graduates:

Students receiving the Master of Arts degree from VisCom go on to become leaders in the visual communication field, including documentary photographers, freelance and newspapers photographers, picture editors, magazine designers, app and user experience designers, media company founders, front-end developers and infographics designers.

Fellowship Programs: 

The Knight Fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity for a mid-career professional to earn a Master’s degree from the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. Residing in Athens, Ohio, and attending Ohio University for one academic year, the selected Fellow will receive the following: full-tuition support as well as a generous stipend (approximately $25,000) provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Fellow will also work with VisCom faculty members in their academic coursework, which includes working on a master’s project of their choice. Additionally, the Fellow will engage with award-winning VisCom students through teaching and mentorship. The successful Knight Fellowship applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree and substantial professional experience.

The Enlight Fellowship is funded graduate support for Chinese students to study photojournalism, information design or commercial photography in the School of Visual Communication.  Residing in Athens, Ohio, and attending Ohio University for a minimum of two academic years, the selected Fellow will receive the following: full-tuition support as well as a generous stipend (approximately $12,000 per year) provided by the Enlight Foundation. This fellowship may be renewed for up to three years to complete the MA degree. The goal is to underwrite education for exceptional students from China to earn an advanced degree as a visual communication professional.

Link to Program:  https://www.ohio.edu/viscom/graduate/

Link to Program Handbook:  https://www.ohio.edu/sites/default/files/sites/Scripps/Masters-program-guidelines_revAug2017.pdf

Graduation Requirements:  The M.A. requires at least 30 credits of graduate coursework, plus a master’s project (5 master’s project hours, including an hour for defense). Course requirements for all VisCom graduate students include: VICO 5014 (Information Design Basics), 5022 (Graduate Seminar), 5400 (Illustration I: Digital Imaging), a master’s project, and 20 to 24 credit hours in a major field of study including a related 6 to 8 hours in a cognate area. Photojournalism students are also required to take VICO 5435 (Picture Editing), and JOUR 5100 (Communication Law) depending on experience in the field. Typically, at least half of the courses taken while attending the graduate program are electives, and a faculty advisor works with each student to explore interests. Internships are both required and encouraged for all graduate students, unless significant professional experience within your selected area has been gained prior to entering the program. This internship or practical education is not taken for credit towards your degree.

The Photojournalism, Commercial Photography and Informational Graphics & Interactive Design sequences take three semesters to complete coursework, with most students opting to stay a fourth to take additional courses or to complete their master’s project. The Visual Communication Management program can be completed in two semesters.

A required progress review is held in week 10 of the first semester, or registration/completion of 15 credits, to assess the student’s suitability for continued study. Students may be passed into full candidacy, held for second review at the end of the semester, or dismissed from the program. The committee for the progress review consists of the student’s academic advisor and two other School of Visual Communication faculty members.

Culminating Experience:  After completing the required course work for a defined sequence, students are required to produce a master’s project in collaboration with their selected graduate chair and committee, including successful defense of the project. Students are required to take a minimum of 5.0 credit hours and maximum of 15.0 Master’s project hours during their program of study.

Admission Requirements:  To apply, you must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale. Other factors, including professional experience or an outstanding portfolio, may qualify you for probationary admission if your undergraduate GPA was below the minimum requirement. You will need to submit completed application forms, send in an application fee, and arrange for official transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended to be sent to the Graduate College

In addition, you must also submit, preferably via the online application, the following material: a resume, a link to an online portfolio or link to downloadable file (please contact the graduate director with any special circumstances), a 500-word statement of intent outlining why you want to attend graduate school, and three letters of reference. VisCom does not require applicants to take the GRE. Contact Associate Professor Rebecca Sell (sell@ohio.edu, 740-593-4894) for additional information, questions or alternative portfolio submission options.

All students whose native language is not English and do not have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States are required to demonstrate English language competency by achieving an adequate score on the IELTS: International English Language Testing System or TOEFL: The Test of English as a Foreign Language. Current minimum score requirements is a TOEFL of 550 and IELTS 6.5 composite, all bands 6.5.

Successful applicants for the Information Graphics & Interactive Design, Photojournalism and Commercial Photography programs will generally have three or more years of professional experience or education and a focused statement of intent. Applicants for the Visual Communication Management sequence will often have even more time in the profession.

International Students:  This program permits full-time enrollment in residence at Ohio University, and an I-20 may be issued based on admission to this program.

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