Jul 13, 2024  
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2021-22 
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2021-22 [Archived Catalog]

Photography - MA

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Master of Arts in Photography

Photography – MA6926

School of Visual Communication
Schoonover Center 250
20 E. Union Street
Athens, OH 45701

Delivery Mode: Athens campus

Term 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 to the next level through advanced coursework, interacting with our professional faculty, and collaborating with their peers.



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

Information Graphics 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, 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 at least three semesters to complete, and many students opt to continue a fourth, in order to expand on their coursework and/or work on their Master’s project.

Visual Communication Management

This sequence is an intense two-semester program geared toward students with more than five years of experience in the visual communication profession, including those who want to develop skills within visual communication industries. A broad program, this sequence allows 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 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.

Further Information

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

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 is 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, via the online application, the following materials: 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 the school’s current graduate director 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 Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Current minimum score requirements are iBT 80 composite, all bands 17 or 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.

Graduation Requirements

The M.A. in Visual Communication requires a minimum of 35 credit hours, including 5 hours of Master’s Project (VICO 6960). Complete the requirements as follows:

Concentration Requirements

Students should complete the required courses for one of the following concentrations:

Cognate Area

All VisCom students must complete a minimum of 6 hours in a cognate area as approved by their advisor.

Master’s Project Hours

All VisCom students must complete a minimum of 5 hours in VICO 6960. A maximum of 15 project hours may be completed, but only 5 hours may count toward degree requirements.

Additional Requirements

All students must successfully complete a first-semester review. This progress review is held during the tenth week of the first semester, or after 15 credits, to assess the student’s suitability for continued study. With a committee of three faculty members, including their advisor, students are either passed into full-candidacy, held for second review at the end of the first semester, or dismissed from the program.

Culminating Experience

Students must complete and successfully defend an approved Master’s project.

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