Photojournalism (BA)

Columbia College Chicago is home to one of the most innovative photojournalism programs in the country. Our faculty members are Pulitzer Prize winners and photojournalists who document for the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune. They provide a solid foundation in photography technique for equipment ranging from professional cameras to smartphones.

You’ll hit the ground running, documenting people and events around Chicago and gaining experience with audio and video to complement your photography skills. In fact, roughly one-third of the curriculum focuses on audio and video, ensuring you’ll graduate as a well-rounded photo and media expert. You’ll take a class in video 360 and virtual and augmented reality and learn how to build your own portfolio website to help you land internships or jobs at the Washington Post, Chicago Reader, National Geographic, Vox, NPR, Ad Age, or Crain’s Chicago Business.


In the Classroom

What to expect your first year

You’ll take Photographic Practice I and Photographic Practice II and start honing your camera skills in the first few weeks of the program. You’ll also take Reporting 1 and Introduction to Journalism as course requirements for the Photojournalism major. These are not your traditional survey classes. In these courses, you’ll venture out into the city and beyond, finding and developing stories with close guidance from your professors. There are many opportunities to publish your stories, so you can start building a body of work your first year. The in-field experience will help you hone your reporting skills and will support your study of theory, practice, and historical perspectives.

What to expect your last year

As a senior, you’ll take the Multimedia Journalism Lab capstone course as well as Documentary Methods and Journalism Short Doc. You’ll curate your video reel and build a competitive portfolio website. You’ll review and refine your portfolio with the insight of faculty mentors, who are working journalists.

By your last year, you’ll likely be working on your second internship, bringing to the table your practical knowledge of industry standards, technology, and practices. By the time you graduate, you’ll have a body of work that reflects your experience as a digital journalist reporting news and features in a major media market.


Outside the Classroom

Columbia prides itself in giving students real-world opportunities while they’re in school. As a Photojournalism student, you’ll have the chance to cover exciting Chicago news in politics, architecture, music, theatre, sports, and literature. You’ll use the city as a laboratory, learning and reporting alongside some of the best photojournalists.

You’ll have the chance to work on award-winning, student-produced media outlets like the Columbia Chronicle, Echo magazine, ChicagoTalks, AustinTalks, 88.1 WCRX-FM, and Frequency TV. See our publications section for more information. 


You’ll have many internship opportunities at companies ranging from globally known media outlets to startups. Our students have landed assignments at the New York Times, Chicago Reader, Time Out, Chicago Sun-Times, U.S. News & World Report, O, Crain’s Chicago Business, Ad Age, Modern Luxury, the Dow Jones, banks, nonprofit organizations—and the list goes on.

Our full-time internship coordinators can help you find internships that complement your coursework and your interests. Though an internship is not required, we encourage you to begin looking for one your junior year.

Learn more about how Columbia’s Career Center can help you find the right internship.


The work of Columbia alumni can be found in publications from the New York Times to Chicago Magazine, and our alums are employed as photojournalists and multimedia specialists around the country. Here is a small sample of our alumni success stories:

  • Brent Lewis’12 is photo editor at the New York Times and is co-founder of Diversify.Photo, a site for art directors and photo editors to discover and hire photographers of diverse voices and styles.
  • Carolina Sanchez’14 is a contributing photographer to VICE Media and a freelance photographer whose work has appeared in the Chicago Reader, HOY, and Chicago Magazine.
  • Grace Wiley’14 is a photo associate for the Chicago Bulls and photographer and field technician for Planomatic, a photography and floor plan service for realtors.
  • Alex Wroblewski’16 is a photojournalist based in Washington, D.C. His clients include the New York Times, Getty Images, Bloomberg News, and Thomson Reuters. During his time at Columbia, Wroblewski was named the 2016 Student Still Photographer of the Year by the White House News Photographers Association.
  • Yam G-Jun’17 is a freelance photographer based in central Asia. Yam is a former photo intern at the Associated Press and senior photo editor at the Columbia Chronicle.
  • Moe Zoyari’18 is a multimedia specialist at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. Zoyari worked for UPI and the BBC from 2003 to 2015 and his photos have appeared in national and international publications including Newsweek, Time, and Der Spiegel.


Our faculty members are working professionals who stay up-to-date with industry trends and teach them in the classroom. They’re dedicated to giving you a real-world education, and they serve as great resources for jobs and references once you graduate.

View all department faculty.

Faculty Spotlight

Associate Professor Jackie Spinner is a former staff writer (1995–2009) for the Washington Post and covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has contributed to the Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, Slate, Glamour, Aswat al-Iraq, American Journalism Review, Defense Quarterly Standard, and U.S. Catholic News. She is the author of Tell Them I Didn’t Cry: A Young Journalist’s Story of Joy, Loss, and Survival in Iraq (Scribner 2006).