4th Year Curriculum & Electives

Thesis I | PHD-4080

The function of this course is two-fold: as critical seminar of depth and insight, which helps each student to build a coherent body of unique work; and also as an information forum that prepares students for careers in photography and video. 

Thesis II | PHD-4085

This is the second part of a two-semester course. Please see PHD-4080 for course description. Note: Students must register for the spring semester course section that corresponds to their fall section of this course.



We offer a range of exciting electives in the 3rd and 4th years including


3D Portraiture | PHD-3081-A
Instructor: Matthew Rader
Photography is no longer only a 2D medium. This course is for students interested in using photographic techniques to create 3D scans of the world around them. We will explore various techniques of computational photography (photogrammetry, structured light, laser scanning, Microsoft Kinect) and learn how to navigate 3D modeling environments (Autodesk Maya), print in 3D, and create virtual and augmented reality environments (Unity3D and Unreal Engine). With these techniques, students will build a virtual environment to explore. Previous experience with 3D modeling is not required but students must have a strong understanding of digital photography and editing.

Analog Color Darkroom and Printing | PHD-3104-A
Instructor: Stacy Renee Morrison
With an emphasis on color darkroom work as well as group critique, this course will focus on making C-prints from color negatives, color correcting and establishing a strong technical foundation in color. Students will receive technical assignments while pursuing a specific project that develops a personal aesthetic direction in which analog color processes are central. Each student will submit a portfolio at the end of the semester. Note: This course will occasionally meet off-campus at a nearby color lab.

Beyond the Camera: The Hidden (Marketable) Skills of a Photographer | PHD-3117-A
Instructor: Gabrielle Russomagno
We learn to ask what is a photograph? This course asks the question What is a photographer? Deconstructing the act of and processes around image making, we identify and illuminate the habits of mind and intellectual activities that are cultivated alongside the act of making a picture and mastering analog and digital processes. Well-trained photographers are, among other things, excellent technicians and communicators. They are visionaries, plucky and brave. They are truth seekers, storytellers, project managers, and they are idea machines. This course will explore the often under-investigated skill sets and range of academic interests that are naturally developed as we cultivate our craft as photographers. At a time when many trained artists are not only working in specific media, but apply their acumen to a myriad of creative fields, it is more important to understand all of the skills cultivated in a photographic education so that students can confidently engage in varied arenas of work that require creative problem-solving. Each week, students will explore a particular area of expertise that they develop concurrently in their evolution as artists and photographers such as social science, curation, project management, finance, design thinking, brand development, entrepreneurship, trend analysis, taste-making, activism, research, and leadership.

Commercial Careers | PHD-3238-A
Instructors: Guy Aroch, Greg Pond
For photography students with commercial aspirations, this course is driven by and focuses on building a body of work. Portfolio reviews will be balanced by the discussion of practical aspects of the field, from assisting to postproduction, to estimates, invoicing, stock and resale. Guest speakers, including art buyers, photo editors, producers, and photo agents, will add information and insight.

Fashion Photography and Video: On Assignment | PHD-3177-A
Instructor: Jamie Isaia
Intended to build an original and informed portfolio of fashion photography and video, this course is structured by assignments that are driven by those in the professional community. Open to students with a strong studio and technical background, as well as those who have a less formal relationship to fashion photography and video, the course will emphasize vigorous competence with the complexity of fashion photography and video, and create insight into its particular demands. Visual intelligence and creative ambition are the prerequisites.

Fifteen Short Investigations Through Photo-Based Art | PHD-3223
Instructor: Penelope Umbrico
This course will investigate ideas in culture as they relate to photography and art. We will explore inherent photographic concepts, such as appropriation, decontextualization, multiplication, systems, memory, the archive and technology, as a means for generating photo-based work. Issues concerning context and intentionality, authorship and originality, individuality and collectivity, will be addressed in relation to relevant cultural and theoretical concepts. Weekly photo-based assignments, critiques, readings and slide presentations will serve to deepen the students’ understanding of their work and locate it within the context of these issues. The objective of this course is to gain agility with a broad range of working methods and a fluency in critical art vocabulary while fostering a personal relationship to contemporary visual ideas and practice.

Performance, The Body; Photography and Video | PHD-3259-A
Instructor: Patricia Voulgaris
This course will investigate performance and its relation to contemporary photography and video, and the performative aspects of much photographic narrative, including each student’s own work. Of particular emphasis will be the body itself, and its relationship to the frame. The course is a collaborative venture with an emphasis on using the resources and people around you; students will learn how to successfully plan and execute their concepts. Assignments will be given to challenge preconceptions and to encourage students to explore new possibilities in their work.

Photo Bookworks: Zines and Monographs | PHD-3164-A
Instructor: Ellen Wallenstein
This course will concentrate on the editing and sequencing of photographs to create chapters with narrative structure. Working on individual projects, students will assemble weekly chapters of work. Several of these handmade zines will lead to a combined larger work that will be printed on demand (POD) by an outside publisher. Examples of past and current artist books will be presented and discussed, and visits to publishers and libraries will be scheduled.

The New Hegemonic:
Explorations of Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Sexuality
| PHD-3511-A, PHD-3512-A
Instructor: Yasi Alipour
In this critique course students will begin a new project or reconsider an existing one in relationship to the shifting cultural landscape of 21st-century America. Taking into consideration the election of the first African American president, the championing of female, LGBTIQ and minority individuals, and the growing support of same-sex marriage, we will attempt to locate an aesthetic sensibility, which embodies the multifaceted visions of identity, ethnicity, race, gender and sexuality that have entered the American mainstream over the last 20 years. We will look closely at the growing presence of the other—women, African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians, Latinos and LQBTIQ individuals—in positions of recognition and power in fine art and popular culture to expand the sense of aesthetic possibilities for all visual artists today. This course will feature readings, screenings and discussions of the work of minority photographers and artists, who are often overlooked or undervalued in the traditional canon, to inform and inspire the class with the production of their own projects.