Online Course v College Degree

While sat down writing a new blog for iPhotography it occurred to us, with all this content we produce, we’ve never stopped to think (until now) how much you learn through iPhotography in comparison to a ‘formal education’.

So, we ask – Is an online photography course better than a University/College degree?

To find out the answer to this hypothesis then we need some hard evidence to form our findings, just like in science class, we need to research some of the best photography courses in esteemed universities and colleges across the world.

Online Courses v College Degree Comparison by

Universities with Photography Degrees

Spending some time online we have managed to narrow down our challengers to Falmouth University in the UK, the University of Southern California in the USA and the Griffith University in Australia. They are all formal establishments that are host highly ranked photography courses and have searchable curriculums for us to compare against.

We will not only look at the course curriculums but also some of the attending fees, because it’s not only what you learn but also how much that will cost you in the long run. These figures will be as accurate as possible at the time of publication, providing the school’s figures are up to date, but we will embed links to sources we use just to be fair.

What You'll Learn on a Photography Degree?

It is tricky to find out the exact topics on each school’s curriculum as they like to keep it a closely guarded secret from other colleges/universities so we can only go by what information is available on their official sites.

Some of their curriculum sounds a little vague and they do say topics are subject to change. In this list, iPhotography topics will be assessed across 3 of courses (iPhotography, Light Tricks and Portrait).

To make it fair, we can only legitimately tick off subjects that we can see in their available curriculum/prospectus’ – more elements may be covered but won’t be assumed unless we can find evidence of it.

iCAMERA photography book cover advert

Download our Latest FREE Photography Book

The overall feeling, we got from the 3 curriculums was that there is a heavier focus on how photography impacts the lives of society in a more artistic manner, as opposed to the technical aspects and basic building blocks. This may lead to suggestions that this information is already known before joining the course – possibly from middle school photography classes.

But with iPhotography we assume no prior knowledge and no experience behind the camera is necessary is needed to start any of our courses. We write each of our courses from the ground up, ensuring that a brand-new beginner can understand aperture, shutter speed and lots of other things without having to have taken a feeder course first!

How Much Practical Photography is Involved in Degrees?

Normally in a formal education setting your time will be split between practical exercises and assignments, essays and dissertations alongside periodic exhibitions. Each school varies in this ration but typically it is a 25/75 split towards practical elements.

Whereas iPhotography is 100% practical, there are no written submissions required. Our optional module assignments are available with a downloadable brief to work but we fully encourage that your time is spent behind the camera trying out the techniques you’ve read about.

The time spent reading through the modules will vary student to student, based on your free time, but ultimately, we’re not going to make you write a 5,000-word essay!

We have a no-pressure approach, you can hop online whenever you’re free, we don’t have live classrooms or deadlines so when you’re ready to learn – we’re here for you.

Online Courses v College Degree Comparison by

How Much Does a Photography Degree Cost?

We’ve tried to be as fair as possible when comparing fees for courses, but it was going to be fairly obvious that iPhotography was always going to be value for money! (That’s not why we wrote this blog though). It was truly to see how much of a difference there was in the expenditure and whether you got that value back through formal education.

These figures are solely tuition and searchable course fees, they don’t take into consideration living costs if you have to move away to study, but obviously, you can study iPhotography from home, work or on the go (if you have mobile internet) so we’ve got no extra costs!


• Griffith University (2019/2020) – AUSD $85,500 tuition fee (1-year total)

• Falmouth Uni (2019/2020) – £86,250 tuition fee (3-year total)

• University of Southern California – US $106,896 tuition fee (4-year total)

• iPhotography Courses – £3,500 (for our 17 current courses with lifetime access)


Plus, you don’t need to have a high-grade DSLR camera to take any of our iPhotography courses, whereas some colleges and universities may expect you to carry camera equipment with certain minimum requirements.

Online Courses v College Degree Comparison by

The Benefits of a College Photography Degree

Given the large financial gap between iPhotography and Universities then there must be a huge range of extras that aren’t available with online courses that you can only benefit from if you attend these types of schools? Let’s look a little deeper:

Online Photography Course Graduation Perks

But come the end of any course it’s all about the graduation and how it’s going to benefit you in the future. Universities and colleges will issue successful students with a degree which looks great on a CV to future employers.

It has been said that many employers who are looking for photographers have looked for experience in the field over formal education in recent research.

But don’t forget that iPhotography is also a certified course too. iPhotography is certified by CPD. You can find out more information and details regarding our accreditation by visiting CPD

Online Courses v College Degree Comparison by

iPhotography Extras

But we’ve got a couple of aces up our sleeve too which those big colleges and universities don’t know about!

Midweek we have a great Photo of the Day title to hand out to a member who has uploaded a brilliant photograph in the past 24 hours.

To take it further, every Friday we announce our Weekend Challenge and test your photography skills against a random topic. We have hundreds of entries every week – and when dogs are involved, we lose count!

We’ve also got a huge training library of downloadable resources about how to use your DSLR camera, making money from your photography, digital photography basics and more.

iPhotography also has a camera simulator too. It’s a brilliant interactive 3D feature where you navigate yourself around a typical DSLR camera and find out what all the features, functions and buttons do. Perfect for learning about your DSLR camera.

We also give out awards every year to our top-performing photographers as voted for by our iPhotography members. Even our members can graduate with summa cum laude (first in class) honours.

Online Courses v College Degree Comparison by

Online Courses v College Degrees: Summary

So, who’s the winner? Well, we don’t want to brag but……. it’s down to you!

In honesty, everyone wants something different out of a photography course. Some people just want to learn about their camera and how to take good snapshots, others want to explore the art of photography and its relation to society so it’s hard to give you one clear winner.

But what we have discovered is that even just learning the basics of photography doesn’t really require you to go to college and spend thousands on an education that you can get for a snip with iPhotography!

And if we haven’t convinced you yet then click below and join our wonderful photography community. Invest in yourself and your passion today on our comprehensive online photography course.

Online Courses v College Degree Comparison by

Article Sources

All facts were correct at the time of writing (April 2019)


FREE Photography Course

Become a confident and competent photographer in less than 30 minutes!


Photography Course

Perfect for Beginners

Before you leave, make sure you’ve secured your FREE online photography course (worth £29.99)

Each class is just 60-seconds or less making it the fastest and easiest way to learn photography!