MFA Photography

Overview of our MFA in Photography

Our Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Photography is a two-year program for students with a previous education or demonstrable expertise in photography. New York Film Academy master’s degree programs are offered at our Los Angeles campus.

Fulbright Spotlight with Photographer Monika Sedziute

New York Film Academy MFA degree programs are offered at our Los Angeles and South Beach Campuses.

An MFA in Photography program at the Photo Arts Conservatory at the New York Film Academy (PAC at NYFA) is an accelerated, conservatory-based, graduate program designed for full-time study over the course of four semesters. We provide a creative setting in which to develop, challenge, and inspire the skills and talents of prospective photographers in an immersive, stimulating environment. By combining seminars and lectures with intense, hands-on classes, students acquire a sound understanding and appreciation of still photography and learn to integrate knowledge and professional experience.

At the Photo Arts Conservatory at NYFA, students engage with a diverse international student body and a core faculty of working professionals. This master's degree program includes visits to museums, galleries, and studios, along with guest lectures and critiques by photographers, artists, and curators. PAC embraces all lens-based media, offering a unique curriculum that includes digital and film-based photography. Though all MFA candidates must take two semesters of Lighting, Imaging, Printing, and Introductory Theory, beginning in Semester Two students are able to choose the rest of their course load themselves.

PAC faculty are committed to our Photography students and their futures as successful image-makers. Through demanding, hands-on coursework, instructors help students keep pace with technological change and push them to excel in all the areas needed to compete in the ever evolving marketplace.

Candidates for the MFA in Photography from PAC at NYFA must complete at least 63 credits, maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA, and produce a successful thesis project to be eligible for degree conferral.

Applicants to the program who have graduated from NYFA’s One-Year, Two-Year, or BFA in Photography programs, or an equivalent program from another institution, may attempt to test out of certain foundational courses within the MFA program. All evaluations and decisions are at the sole discretion of the department chairs, and are final. Students who successfully test out of any courses will substitute other courses in their place, and must fulfill the 63 total credit minimum, as well as all course category requirements.


In the first and second semesters of pursuing a photography MFA degree, students work intensively with available and artificial lighting on a wide variety of assignments, learn to analyze and critique images, and develop essential skills in conceptualizing, composing, and developing their own visual language.

In addition to their required core courses in their first two semesters, students choose from a variety of concept-driven courses that continue to introduce new skills and techniques while exploring ideas that push them to develop their voice. Students are required to take a certain number of classes within five areas of study--lighting, imaging/printing, business/marketing, history/theory, and art practice.

The final work is created for exhibition with feedback from a thesis committee, peers and instructor, accompanying statement by the artist. Students choose a fine art, documentary, journalistic, or commercial approach, and are evaluated by the standards established for those genres. Thesis projects are assessed by the chairs, faculty, and mentors.

MFA photography students also learn the best methods for marketing to their target audiences. Coursework includes branding approaches, marketing plans, and self-promotion techniques.

Students in Semesters Two - Four choose classes within these categories of study:

Lighting Learning Outcomes
  • Perform professional photo shoots using mirrorless, DSLRs or analog cameras with fixed and zoom lenses.
  • Evaluate the components of exposure by comparing and contrasting aperture ranges, shutter speeds, lenses, lighting tools, and filtration options on a wide variety of subjects.
  • Recognize the characteristics of light and make creative use of lighting tools, perspective, and environments.
  • Pre-visualize an image and realize it through lighting and photographic techniques.
Imaging/Printing Learning Outcomes
  • Apply advanced digital darkroom skills using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.
  • Output accurate prints to inkjet printers with advanced color management.
  • Orchestrate tone and color through post-production software to accurately create a specific aesthetic.
  • Investigate the role that photographic materials, processes, and techniques play in the pursuit of photography as a creative medium.
  • Utilize Lightroom as a file management, workflow processing, and resolution tool.
Business/Marketing Learning Outcomes
  • Produce business and marketing plans appropriate to current business practices in the professional photography industry.
  • Identify and apply best business practices for their chosen genre.
  • Study and apply the elements of successful branding.
  • Demonstrate innovative entrepreneurial and networking skills.
  • Prepare relevant marketing plans and branding to reach their targeted professional audience.
  • Apply advanced technical skills, creative vision, and personal aesthetic to their final portfolios and exhibition.
Theory Learning Outcomes
  • Apply advanced theories of aesthetics, semiotics, design, composition, and color.
  • Analyze theoretical history of photography texts and apply them to their work and the work of others.
  • Demonstrate advanced critical thinking skills in evaluating a diverse range of historical and contemporary art works.
  • Examine and discuss the work of seminal visual artists from the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Investigate current trends and key technical, formal, and conceptual issues in photography, and articulate these in verbal and written form.
  • Apply technological, artistic, social, and cultural currents from the history of photography and contemporary photographic practice, and be able to relate their work to photographic history and practice.
Art Practice Learning Outcomes
  • Analyze the effect visual media has on the way contemporary society reads images.
  • Identify key technical, formal, and conceptual issues in their creative work and the work of others, and articulate these in verbal and written form.
  • Explore multiple mediums of art to develop an authentic voice and style.
  • Write a 15 - 20 page thesis paper that meets master’s-level expectations and supports their thesis project.
  • Plan and design their final thesis exhibition, including the sequencing, sizing, and printing of images, using mounting, framing, and/or hanging techniques, with awareness of contemporary exhibition protocols.
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$44,910 Per Year

International student tuition fee

2 Years


Aug 2024

Start Month

Jul 2024

Application Deadline

Upcoming Intakes

  • August 2024
  • January 2025
  • May 2025
  • August 2025

Mode of Study

  • Full Time