Extreme Photography

Images are arguably the most important documents of the 21st century, operating at the intersection of communication, commerce and culture. The photography program educates students to be technically skilled, visually literate and creatively prepared for a world where photography, video and streaming media permeate our everyday experiences. Beginning with foundation work through senior thesis, courses are designed to inform students about photographic traditions while engaging them in the critical issues and methodologies of contemporary practice. The photography major prepares students for a career in visual media including fine art, media communications or advertising, education, or institutional professions at galleries, museums or auction houses.

The photography program seeks to promote growth and development of the student through a range of courses dealing with aesthetic, historical, technical and critical concerns. The interdisciplinary structure of the curriculum encourages students to explore a range of image-related disciplines in pursuit of their career objectives. In addition to the required courses for the major, students might consider taking courses in design, film history and criticism, creative writing, American studies or business. Photography courses are primarily taught using digital still and video technologies but traditional darkroom processes remain a valuable component to the curriculum.

Bachelor of Fine Arts

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree requires 67 hours of coursework (or 22 courses) in the department. Generally, the BFA affords a larger portfolio due to considerably more studio experiences. A candidate for a BFA also has the opportunity to pursue a year-long, self-driven thesis project. B.F.A. entrance will be based on a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher in the seven core courses. The seven core courses must be completed before taking the B.F.A. studio seminar. Faculty-taught sections are mandatory for majors. See the Bachelor of Fine Arts course requirements. 

Bachelor of Arts

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BA) is most suited to students who wish to double major or want to create a customized educational experience combining photography and video with other disciplines including design, art history, marketing, psychology, and English. For BA majors specializing in photography, the following courses are recommended studio electives. See the Bachelor of Arts course requirements. 

Photo Program Courses

  • Photography I
  • Photography II: Digital Workshop
  • Extreme Photography
  • The Photographic Portrait

Recommended Art History Courses

  • Intro to 20th Century Art
  • American Art
  • History of Photography
  • History of Design
  • PhotoFutures: Collecting Art for Notre Dame

Recommended Studio and Design Courses

  • Visual Communication Design 3: Web Design
  • Visual Communication Design 6: Motion Design
  • Artists Books & Papermaking
  • Silkscreen
  • Installation Art

Related Disciplines Outside of the Department

  • Film Theory
  • American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology
  • Gender Studies
  • Creative Writing

Studio Minor

The minor in studio art is intended for the student who wishes to add studio art experience to their undergraduate studies. The minor requires 15 hours, or 5 courses in studio art. Before being able to declare a minor, a student must be enrolled in or have already taken one of the following: Drawing I, 2D Foundations, or 3D Foundations.

As with the major, students seeking the minor may elect either a general or focused course of study; that is, students may take the four studio courses selected from among any of the studio disciplines (Ceramics, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture) or they may take four studio courses from within a single discipline. Because the Department offers multiple entry-level courses, students are able to enter the program at a variety of points.

Study Abroad

Study abroad usually occurs in the junior year. Students are highly encouraged to take advantage of this unique opportunity to study and travel in a foreign country. Study abroad offerings usually allow students to gain credit towards their major in the department. Your academic advisor will help with options and scheduling.

Internships and Summer Research

Students are encouraged to seek out a summer internship after their second year of study. The program has relationships with photographers in the Midwest and across the country. In addition to commercial photography internships, there are opportunities to intern with fine arts institutions like the Smithsonian or the Snite Museum of Art on campus. Download the internship PDF.

Undergraduate research opportunities are also available during the summer months for advanced students wishing to pursue a special project. Students apply to a variety of on-campus funding sources for support during the spring semester each year.


Depending on the path you choose in photography, the opportunities wide and varied. Here are some of the types of positions held by former students:

commercial studio assistant photographer's agent
studio manager archivist/researcher
freelance commercial photographer photo editor
photo educator advertising account executive
production manager for media group web designer

Contact For Advising

Contact Director of Undergraduate Studies, Elyse Speaks, for general questions about the various Art, Art History & Design programs. If you have specific questions about Photography, feel free to contact a faculty member directly. 

Recommended Technology

The photography program maintains an inventory of digital and film cameras, tripods and related photographic equipment available for student check out to complete course work. Students are highly encouraged to own a digital SLR camera, especially if they plan to take multiple courses in the program. Whether or not students own a camera, all students beginning with Photo 1 must own a portable hard drive for transfer and storage of their images. This hard drive must be compatible with the Apple platform. By the end of the sophomore year, students are encouraged to purchase their own laptop and imaging software. The department has specialized computer labs for students enrolled in classes. However, seats are limited and courses are routinely taught in these spaces. As students progress into higher-level courses, the necessity of having a DSLR and personal laptop with imaging software becomes more important.

Visit the Program

If you are planning to visit campus, please stop by Riley Hall while you are here. Riley hall houses all the studio arts in the department. If you are considering studying photography at Notre Dame, feel free to contact our department office and staff members will arrange for a tour.


Considering photography as a major? Visit the department's main office: 306 Riley Hall of Art and Design. General questions about majoring in studio art can be sent to the Department of Art, Art History & Design at art@nd.eduApply now.