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Commercial Photography (Graduate)

M.A. Program: Commercial Photography track

Students who are interested in advertising photography, product and still-life photography, fashion and portrait photography, architectural and interior design photography, and the business aspects of operating a photographic studio are suited for the Commercial Photography track in our Master of Arts (MA6930) program.

Alumni of the commercial photography program go on to become studio owners, magazine photo editors, digital retouchers and photographers within the advertising industry. They have had successful careers in the industry in a variety of capacities and have worked at a variety of places, including BurkleHagen Photography (Cleveland), Matt Reese Photo (Columbus), Versatile Studios (New York City), Power Creative (Louisville, Ky.), Richard Reinsdorf Photography (Los Angeles, Calif.), Sarah Silver (New York City), Sarah Kehoe Photography, (New York City), (Cincinnati), Liz Von Hoene Photography (Atlanta, Ga.), Amazon (Kentucky), Marie Claire Magazine (New York City) • Outsider Magazine (Santa Fe, N.M.), and the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops (Santa Fe, N.M.).

This sequence takes three semesters to complete, and many students opt to continue a fourth to expand coursework and/or work on their Masters Project.

Questions? Please contact Graduate Director Stan Alost,

Learn more about applying to VisCom's M.A. program

Student work

Students in commercial photography create images that focus on advertising, still-life, architecture, fashion, and portraiture photography, all with a heart of storytelling. See more student work.


woman dancing
Photo by Sean Yuan

The coursework

Three of our four tracks are three-semester programs, with most students opting to stay a fourth for additional courses, research, and Masters project defense. The M.A. requires at least 30 credits of graduate coursework, plus a Master’s project (taking an additional 5 credit hours, including 1 hour for the defense).

Course requirements for all VisCom graduate students:

  • VICO 5022, Graduate Seminar
  • VICO 5014, Information Design Basics
  • VICO 5400, Illustration I: Digital Imaging
  • Master’s project (5-15 hours)

Students take 20-24 hours in their field of study. For the Commercial Photography track, this includes:

  • VICO 5227, Fashion Photography / Portraiture
  • VICO 5228, Still Life / Architecture Photography
  • VICO 5435, Picture Editing
  • VICO 6432, Business Practices
  • VICO 6227, Business Studio


  • VICO 5200, Video Capture for Commercial Photography
  • VICO 6401, Multimedia Production for Visual Communication
  • VICO 6229, Illustration Application

Desired electives both within VisCom and across the university are also available. In the three to four semesters, about 50 percent of the coursework is elective. Commercial students often take courses in social media, business, animation, small systems lighting, design and other areas of interest.

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.

Internships are 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.

Download the curriculum for the VisCom Master of Arts program

View the catalog descriptions of all VICO graduate courses

Equipment requirements and facilities

Commercial Photography equipment requirements

Commercial Photography students are required to have a minimum of the following equipment by the start of their first semester in the Master of Arts program:

  • A professional-level DSLR camera
  • Two lenses with f/2.8 or faster aperture: one 28mm or wider focal length, and one with a 135mm
  • to 200mm focal length (zoom lenses are also acceptable if fixed aperture)
  • Dedicated electronic flash
  • Professional tripod
  • Download the Commercial Photography Equipment list

Equipment checkout room

VisCom also has an Equipment Checkout Room with the support of Nikon, Canon, Mamiya Corporation of America and Sony. Students can check out DSLR and mirrorless cameras, lenses, lighting gear, audio and video equipment, tripods and other stabilization tools.

A form will be emailed to students every year to gain access to the equipment room. This opportunity is available ONLY to VisCom students and those taking VisCom classes. Questions can be directed to Josh Birnbaum at or (740)-597-1778.

Computer labs

The School of Visual Communication uses Apple computers and predominantly the Adobe Creative Suite. We are pleased to provide computer labs with Apple computers, the Adobe Creative Suite and other software needed for classes. These labs also have open hours in the evenings, as do other labs on campus, and have color printers and photo printers students can use with purchase of a print card. Graduate students have 24-hour access to the VisCom Graduate Lab which includes printers and desktop computers.

Photography studios

Within the Schoonover building, VisCom also has two photographic studios available, including state of the art lighting equipment, dressing rooms and a cyclorama (“cyc”) wall. There is also a kitchen studio on campus at Jefferson Market available by reservation.

The School of Visual Communication Gallery

On the first floor of Schoonover, the School of Visual Communication runs a gallery. Rotating regularly between student and alumni shows, students can not only show their work, but gain experience participating in the exhibitions.