Master of Arts in Photography

Aalto University

Program Description
EFMD Equis Accredited
AACSB Accredited

Master of Arts in Photography

Aalto University

Welcome to the Master´s Programme in Photograhy at Aalto University! In The School of Arts, Design and Architecture, theory meets practice. The University is located in the Helsinki metropolitan area in Finland. Our programme provides a high level education and the studies enable the development of advanced professional competence, expressive skills and theoretical thinking. A strong artistic vision and the ability to think conceptually are key objectives of the programme. Students can develop their artistic and professional skills with photography by their own practice. The school focuses on learning through practical assignments and projects and theory. Our unit is the home of the Helsinki School and the Helsinki Photomedia international research conference.

Goal of education

Content outcomes:

  • The student strengthens his/her earlier expression skills, artistic vision and vocational competence
  • The student gains a general understanding of the field of photography and can relate his/her activities to it
  • Graduates of the Master’s Programme in Photography understand the many different uses and special characteristics of a photograph and can work with them in a professional manner.

Skill outcomes:

  • The student produces photographic expression of high content and technical quality
  • The student can use different photography publication processes and platforms
  • The student is able to network nationally and internationally and present his/her competence to other actors in the photography field

Academic skills:

  • The student knows the basics of photography theory
  • He/she can write investigative text and use information sources
  • He/she knows the trends and methods in photography research and, more broadly, in visual culture research and the related knowledge theory backgrounds.

After completing a master’s degree the student can apply for doctoral studies in photography.

More about the language of instruction

The language of instruction in the Master’s Programme in Photography is Finnish. However, a large part of the courses are taught in English. The degree can be completed in English.

Education content

The studies emphasize photography as a means of independent and multidisciplinary arts expression and the development of conceptual thinking and research skills.

The languages of instruction in the master’s programme are Finnish and English. Students may write their Master’s thesis in Finnish, Swedish or English.

The staff and students in the Master’s Programme in Photography form an academic and creative community. International artistic activities and the various photograph publication processes and platforms are core areas of the programme. The most visible results of the activities are domestic and international exhibitions, photography publications, Helsinki Photomedia Conference and Helsinki School activities.

The studies include vocational, artistic and research courses. The teaching methods are workshops, study projects, theoretical studies, lectures, seminars and personal guidance. Studies in international student exchange programmes are recommended as part of the programme. Based on his/her orientation, the student can supplement intermediate studies with courses in the humanities, business or technology offered by other Aalto University schools and other universities. The student also has the opportunity to learn about current international activities in photography research at the Helsinki Photomedia Conference that is held in even years.

The studies require personal motivation and an interest in the working methods of photographic expression as well as the ability to independently solve problems and complete tasks related to the work processes in the professional field of photography. The studies are full-time and mainly completed independently. The studies enable the development of advanced professional competence, expressive skills and theoretical thinking. A strong artistic vision and the ability to think conceptually are key objectives of the studies.

Career opportunities

The aim of the Master’s Programme in Photography is to use studies to create an individual competence profile for the student, which will allow him/her to succeed in the changing domestic and international field. An MA degree allows the student to apply for post-graduate studies leading to a doctor of arts degree.


Master’s degree studies provide the skills needed to operate diversely in jobs in the field, for example, as a freelance photographer, independent artist, photojournalist, photo manager, photo editor, photography instructor, photography researcher and in various organisational and advisory roles. Graduates of the programme often combine several different tasks when working in the field.


The studies aim at giving students the skills needed to work in the international field. The student group comprises applicants from many different countries. Some of the intermediate and advanced studies are completed in English. An international student exchange is recommended during the studies, and this is also a popular option. During the studies, students have the chance to present their portfolios to international professionals, apply for international residence programmes and workshops, and participate in exhibition activities at the internationally curated Helsinki School.

Admission procedure

Applicants for the Master’s Programme in Photography apply in the master’s level admissions in the field of Art and Design. Key selection criteria when selecting photography students are the artistic talent, motivation and development potential of the applicants. The applicant must have at least a BA degree in photography or a BA degree in art.

Student selection takes place by means of a two-stage entrance exam. Some applicants are eliminated between the two stages. Selection is based on application documents, a work portfolio, study plan, CV, interview and possible entrance exam assignments.

This school offers programs in:
  • English
  • Finnish
  • Swedish

Last updated December 14, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug., 2017
2 years
Full time
Jan. 25, 2017
Application period: 2016-12-15 - 2017-01-25
Start date Aug., 2017
Finland Helsinki
Application deadline Jan. 25, 2017
Application period: 2016-12-15 - 2017-01-25
End date Request Info
Duration 2 years