May 24, 2024  
Ohio University Graduate Catalog 2015-2017 
Ohio University Graduate Catalog 2015-2017 [Archived Catalog]

Photography - MA

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Degree Title: Master of Arts

Program Name and Number: Photography - MA6926

Department/Unit: School of Visual Communications

Delivery Mode: Athens Campus

Program Mission: The heart of VisCom is centered around storytelling in various mediums. Studying photojournalism, commercial photography, informational graphics and interactive design, or visual communication management, students will push their skills in this area to the next level, becoming leaders in the visual communication profession.

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 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.

Program Overview:  The School of Visual Communication (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 & Interactive Design, and Visual Media Management. Students study a range of coursework in their chosen concentration, as well as adding to their studies through elective courses to meet their goals for time in the graduate program. 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 project.

Commercial Photography: This sequences focuses on advertising photography, product/still-life photography, fashion/portrait photography, 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 project.

Information Graphics and Interactive Design: This sequences combines the professional practice of data visualization and designing information graphics as well as user experience and front-end web design. 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 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 opportunities 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.

Opportunities for Graduates: Students receiving the Masters 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.

Link to Program:

Graduation Requirements: The M.A. requires at least 30 credits of graduate coursework, plus a Master’s project (5 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. 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 adviser 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 toward the end of the first semester, or completion of 15 credits, to assess the student’s suitability for continued 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 two 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, 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 (, 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 600.

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

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