Students enrolled after Summer 2016, please see Integrated Studio Arts.

The photography program is designed to encourage critical thinking and to expose students to the theoretical as well as technical practices of photography, in both the historical and contemporary spheres.  The faculty is strongly committed to helping students find a working balance between the aesthetic, theoretical and politicial aspects of photography, along with the, at time, rigorous technical expertise required to realized these goals.  A Socratic model - one which nurtures an open critical debate between students and instructors, and which allows for challenges and discovery - is ideally suited to the classroom critique as a forum in which to investigate new ideas. 

A portfolio is not required to begin this major as a freshman. However, students are required to pass a comprehensive portfolio review in the spring of their sophomore year. The review is based on the student's work in Purdue photography courses. Students not selected to continue in upper-level photography work with their academic advisor to change to their second-choice major.

Points of Pride

  • Photography is housed in the new Visual and Performing Arts Building, a state-of-the-art facility built specifically for the visual and performing arts at Purdue. This building includes chemical and darkroom facilities for black-and-white film development, digital color equipment, photo studios, and integrated computer systems to facilitate photography work and file manipulation.
  • This academic program yields a Bachelor of Arts rather than a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. This helps students develop a well-rounded perspective, critical thinking, creative problem-solving abilities, and communication skills applicable to work in many environments - within and outside a photography studio or business. 


  • Advertising
  • Industrial and architectural photography
  • Photojournalist
  • Commercial and corporate photography
  • Digital photography adjunct faculty
  • Mass media
  • Interactive media
  • Many other positions in business/management, not necessarily related to photography but able to capitalize on strong sense of composition and students’ broad-based liberal arts skill set 

Plan of Study

A. The 12 hour core in A & D (12)

AD 10500 Basic Design
AD 11300 Basic Drawing (Aesthetic Awareness)
AD 22700 History of Art Since 1400
AD 38300 Modern Art or AD 38400 Contemporary Art

B. The following courses are required (18)

AD 11700 Photography I: Black and White Processes and Aesthetics
AD 11900 Photography II: Color Imaging and Studio Practice
AD 23600 Lighting Fundamentals for Photography (S)
AD 26700 Digital Media I: Photography and Digital Imaging
AD 25100 History of Photography I
AD 30701 History of Contemporary Photography

C. Majors must enroll in THREE C- Level courses offered in the year following their Sophomore Year (9)

AD 33100 Digital Video Production and Aesthetics (F)
AD 33700 Commercial and Professional Practice in Photography (S)
AD 36101 The Constructed Image (F)
AD 36300 Documentary Photography (F)
AD 38100 Fine Art Photographic Printmaking and the Artist's Book (S)

D. The following courses (6)

AD 42100 Advanced Studies in Photography and Related Media I
AD 42200 Advanced Studies in Photography and Related Media II

A Comprehensive portfolio review process will be implemented before the student may continue in this concentration. The review will take place at the end of each semester, as soon as the student has finished 11700, 11900, 23600, and 26700. The evaluation will be based on the final projects in each of those classes.

A group exhibition will be held following the completion of A&D 42100 and 42200.

Program Course Requirements (57-58 credits): (See PDF for full list here)

ONE of the following:

ENGL 10600 First Year Composition
ENGL 10800 Accelerated First Year Composition

COM 1140 Fundamentals of Speech Communication
Other Language (12) (Proficiency through level IV in one language)
West Heritage
United States Tradition
Other Cultures
Aesthetic Awareness
Racial and Ethnic Diversity
Gender Issues
Social Ethics
Individual and Society
Global Perspective
Natural Sciences
Natural Sciences Lab

Electives (20-21 credits)

University Core Requirements

Courses selected above must meet the following University Core Requirements:

Human Cultures Humanities
Human Cultures Behavioral/Social Science
Information Literacy
Science Selective
Science Selective
Science Technology Society Selective
Written Communication
Oral Communication
Quantitative Reasoning

For more information, visit

Print Plan of Study

Integrated Studio Arts

Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

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