If you love photography, whether as an art form or for documenting news and history, then we have an impressive list of photography scholarships that can get you studying to fulfill your passion, while reducing or eliminating the need for student loans.
While there seem to be scholarships and grants out there for just about every student imaginable, aspiring photographers have an especially wide selection of awards to apply for.
Here are six of our favorite photography scholarships, along with a bunch of other great ones, to get you in the picture at the college of your choice.
6 photography scholarships
Many organizations contribute to photography scholarships, especially those supporting photojournalism. Here are six such programs that you should know about:
Bodie McDowell Scholarship
Janie Moore Greene Scholarship Grant
National Press Photographers Foundation Scholarships
The James Alan Cox Foundation for Student Photojournalists awards
Worldstudio AIGA Scholarship
Lucie Scholarship Program
Plus: How to find even more photography scholarships
1. Bodie McDowell Scholarship
The Outdoor Writers Association of America — an organization that seeks to improve the skills of professional communicators who work in the great outdoors — offers the Bodie McDowell Scholarship. This scholarship is available to undergraduate students studying print, photography, film, art or broadcasting.
You can win anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 if you demonstrate “clear, significant goals in outdoor communications.” Applications for 2020 opened Jan. 1 and close in March.
2. Janie Moore Greene Scholarship Grant
Offered by the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), the Janie Moore Greene Scholarship Grant awards $1,000 to photography students at the college level. Students are eligible if they attend two-year or four-year colleges, art/design schools or photography schools.
The scholarship doesn’t say your work must be focused on nature, although this is NANPA’s focus. The application period generally closes in the middle of fall.
High school students interested in studying nature photography can also apply for the NANPA High School Scholarship Program. It’s not a college scholarship, but an immersive education program that takes place during the summer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
3. National Press Photographers Foundation Scholarships
The National Press Photographers Foundation (NPPF) offers a variety of photography scholarships. Luckily, you only have to apply once to become eligible for them all.
These awards are specifically focused on photojournalism. Most offer $2,000, though there’s also a $4,000 grant for 2020, and they’re given to students who demonstrate talent and financial need:
The Bob East Photojournalism Scholarship
The Reid Blackburn Memorial Award
The Bob Baxter Scholarship
The Kit C. King Scholarship (graduate students only)
The Rich Clarkson Founders Scholarship (can be won in addition to one of the scholarships above)
The application period for the most recent awards closed in early December.
4. The James Alan Cox Foundation for Student Photojournalists awards
Another program for future photojournalists is the James Alan Cox Foundation photography scholarship.
This scholarship is available to high school students, undergraduate students and graduate students alike. All applicants need to have at least one semester of school left to receive the award.
And here’s what you can win:
High school students can win a digital camera.
Undergraduate students at a college or technical school can win a $2,500 scholarship, either for video work or still photography.
Graduate students can win a $2,500 scholarship for video work only.
Applications for the next round of awards open in July 2020.
5. Worldstudio AIGA Scholarship
The Worldstudio AIGA Scholarship is designed to help minority and economically disadvantaged students pursue a degree in art or design. To win, you should not just show talent and financial need, but also have a plan to give back to your community through your work.
Students majoring in photography (as well as other artistic disciplines) can win awards from $2,000 to $5,000 for school, as well as an honorable mention prizes of $500 in cash. Applications for 2020-2021 are due in April.
6. Lucie Scholarship Program
The Lucie Scholarship Program doesn’t offer money for college, but it does award money to help you pursue your work.
There are three awards in this program, with submissions usually opening in the spring:
Photo Made — $1,000 Emerging Scholarship: Awarded for a fine arts approach to a new or ongoing project.
Photo Taken — $1,000 Emerging Scholarship: Awarded for a new or ongoing project with a documentary or photojournalism angle.
Emerging Artist— $2,500 Open Genre Scholarship: Awarded for any genre of photography in the creation of a new or ongoing dynamic project.
How to find even more photography scholarships
The above scholarships are available to students from all backgrounds and regions. But you can find even more photography scholarships if you individualize your search.
For example, below are a few photography scholarships based on location or school:
The Betty Harlan Memorial Arts Scholarship: For visual arts majors in Northern Illinois.
F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship: Arts scholarships, including photography, that place an emphasis on residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Iowa Scholarships for the Arts: For majoring in fine arts in Iowa colleges.
Portfolio Awards in General Art or Photography: For students attending the Pratt Institute.
Support Creativity Scholarships: For students in New York City and in the states New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut who are studying photography or other arts and design disciplines.
There are also awards for students from specific backgrounds, such as the Against the Grain Products Artistic Scholarship for art students.
Given the wide array of specifically targeted scholarships, it’s worth trying a Google search for “photography scholarships” and adding your race, gender or hometown to come up with search results specific to you.
Finally, be sure to look at more than just photography scholarships. Use scholarship search tools to find as many awards as possible that you qualify for. It could be well worth the work.
Don’t forget to look for photography competitions
Beyond scholarships and grants, you might also want to take a look at photography contests. Consider the National Young Arts Foundation, for instance. Winners of this contest can earn cash awards of up to $10,000, as well as:
Master classes with renowned photographers.
Become eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
Lifetime creative and professional development opportunities.
(Note that there are sometimes fees for such contests, such as the $35 fee for this one.)
And remember that contests don’t just help you earn money. If you win, you can gain exposure, build your resumé and improve your skills behind the lens. All of this can help you mature as an artist while you prepare for the next step in your studies.
Michael Kitchen contributed to this report.
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