Most employers of photographers look for candidates with a college degree. Photography programs typically offer bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, master of arts, or master of fine arts degrees. Associate degrees and certificate programs are also common.
Personal career goals should largely shape the degree program you seek. Those interested in photography's commercial purposes, such as in advertising or studio work, would benefit from a program tailored to those needs, and most of those employers would require an associate or bachelor's degree as proof of professional training.
Many programs concentrate on the fine arts aspect of photography and offer the bachelor and master of fine arts degrees. The Academy of Art in San Francisco offers a program that includes study of concept, technique, metaphor, and other artistic elements of photography. Some schools offer associate of fine arts degrees, as well.
Another path for photography students is to specialize in photojournalism. Photojournalism degree programs generally offer a balance of photography courses with journalism courses and prepare students for work in the news media.