Study options

Master's Programme in Art and Media - Photography

No intake 2022. Applying for the studies starting in 2023 will be possible during the application period 2022-2023.

A photograph has an all-piercing force in the society and culture, impacting individuals, communities and nations alike. In our image-saturated world, the significance of a powerful photograph hasn’t been lost. If anything, artists and photographers with something to say are needed now, more than ever before. As a student at Aalto University, you will be part of an ambitious and professional community and a learning environment, allowing you to develop your artistic practice and enhance your conceptual and critical thinking.
Photo by Petri Juntunen, called Untitled (Of Clouds and Clocks), 2019. A horse standing in front of clouds in the red-shaded picture.
Petri Juntunen: Untitled (Of Clouds and Clocks), 2019

Degree:

Master of Arts (Art and Design)

Application period:

1.12.2020 – 4.1.2021

Language of instruction:

Finnish
English
Swedish

Duration:

2 years, full-time

Eligibility:

Relevant Bachelor's degree

Field of study:

Art and Design

Credits:

120 ECTS

Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Tuition fees:

For non-EU/EEA citizens, €15000/y (Master’s studies)

The application period has closed

Applying to master’s programmes

No intake 2022. Applying for the studies starting in 2023 will be possible during the application period 2022-2023.

The Photography major offers diverse and inspiring studies in the fields of contemporary photography and artistic research. The studies place emphasis on photography as an independent and multidisciplinary expressive tool and seek to develop students' artistic and research-orientated thinking.

Aalto University is now ranked 6th in the world in the field of art and design by QS World University Ranking. The world-class teaching and facilities ensure that, upon graduating from the major, graduates will be able to:

  1. work on the highest level of national and international contemporary photography and art, utilising techniques, tools and materials, working methods and theoretical concepts that support their artistic practice
  2. apply various kinds of presentation and installation practices of photography in connection to national and international publishing processes, platforms and audiences
  3. practice their critical understanding of the diverse functions and specific characteristics of the photographic medium
  4. position and contextualise their own work, and practice and operate equally, sustainably and insightfully in their professional fields of contemporary photography, visual arts, media and culture and as active citizens in the society
  5. critically assess and use various kinds of source material and apply research-related reading and writing methods to their own qualitative and artistic research
  6. build on their field-specific theoretical backgrounds, contribute to photography-related academic discussions and pursue doctoral studies
  7. acknowledge the integrity of art and value it as a foundational element of cultures and communities

Structure of the studies

Overall, the Master’s Programme in Art and Media – Photography comprises a total of 120 ECTS. The two-year studies include professional, artistic and research-based courses and are composed of workshops, lectures, seminars, independent projects and their personal supervision. As a student, you may also supplement your major studies with courses offered by other majors and programmes or with social science, humanities or technical studies at other universities.

In the Photography major, we will support your personal expression and provide a theoretical foundation for understanding contemporary photographic phenomena. Our broad range of courses include elective workshops on e.g. practices of documentary photography and contemporary art, various working methods and themes, studio practice, moving image, and new directions of photography.

To learn more about the Photography studies, see the programme curriculum in student portal Into.

Languages of instruction

The teaching in the Photography major is conducted in Finnish and English. Students may write their master’s thesis in Finnish, Swedish or English.

Tracks within the study option

Within the Photography major, you can specialise in documentary photography, contemporary art, or academic research.

Career opportunities

The goal of the Photography major is to help our students to discover their own strengths and to create opportunities for success in a continuously changing and developing field. Our major offers excellent opportunities for working in the fields of photography and contemporary art, and we have become well-known thanks to a number of our internationally recognised alumni. A Master of Arts degree also allows the graduates to apply for further studies leading to a Doctor of Arts degree.

Master’s degree studies provide you with the skills needed in a diverse range of positions, and graduates of the major often combine different tasks in their work. Examples of possible professions include: 

  • Photographer
  • Visual artist
  • Photojournalist
  • Photo editor
  • Photography instructor
  • Publisher
  • Curator
  • Researcher

Internationalisation

Our Master’s students come from different parts of the world and the majority of our intermediate and advanced studies are taught in English. Participating in an international student exchange during the studies is also supported and recommended. During the studies, it is possible to apply for international residency programmes and workshops, and present one’s portfolio to professionals within the field.

Students’ works gain visibility in exhibitions and photography publications in Finland and abroad. The students also have the opportunity to explore current international research at the biennial Helsinki Photomedia conference.

Apart from the studies, student life among Photography students is very welcoming and active. New students can join Aalto University’s student unions that provide different activities, events and other opportunities to balance studies with free-time fun.

Post-graduate study options

Completion of the MA degree makes a graduate eligible to apply for doctoral studies, for example in the School of Art, Design and Architecture at Aalto University.

Research

Photography research reflects the many roles that photography has in contemporary culture and the ubiquity of photographic practices and technologies. The research areas include:

  • the theoretical and empirical study of photographs and photography as research objects
  • study of the uses and applications of photography in various social, cultural and educational contexts and media environments
  • the use of photography as an artistic research practice.

Multidisciplinary opportunities / Collaboration

Students can supplement their studies with, for example, courses from other Aalto schools, programmes, and majors, or courses in social sciences, humanities, or arts offered by other universities.

The studies include collaboration with organisations, institutions, and enterprises in the fields of photography and contemporary art.

Programme-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria 2021

Study-option-specific evaluation criteria

Applicants meeting Aalto’s general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option. The applications to Master´s Programme in Photography will be evaluated based on the following criteria.

Phase I

Artistic and/or design practice

Assessed area

Demonstrations of artistic work: e.g. projects, publications, exhibition documentations, series or single photographs or other works of art.

Admission requirements

 

We expect our applicants to have artistic vision and development potential as well as to be goal-orientated and able to adopt new perspectives and working methods.

Method of demonstrating competence

Portfolio

 

 

Suitability

Assessed area

Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies / communication skills

Admission requirements

 

Applicants are expected to have strong motivation, good co-operative skills and capacity to commit to full-time studying. We also expect a profound understanding of the photographic medium and culture, and personal artistic insight.

Method of demonstrating competence

Motivation letter

 

 

Other areas of competence

Assessed area

Work experience and other acquired knowledge/achievements e.g. publications and exhibitions, non-formal education, competitions.

Admission requirements

 

We expect a CV (curriculum vitae) from applicants for background information.

Method of demonstrating competence

Curriculum vitae

 

 

Phase II

Suitability

Assessed area

Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies / communication skills / assessment of second-phase assignments.

Admission requirements

 

We require good skills in written expression and ability to conceptually reflect on questions related to photography.

We also expect our applicants to have a good understanding of the photographic medium and culture as well as personal artistic insight.

Method of demonstrating competence

Second-phase assignment

 

 

Suitability

Assessed area

Applicant’s further applicability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies / communication skills

Admission requirements

 

We require good verbal communication skills and co-operative skills. We also expect our applicants to have a good understanding of the photographic medium and culture as well as personal artistic insight.

Method of demonstrating competence

Second-phase interview

 

 

Evaluation process

The applicants will be first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements. Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option.

The selection process for applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria comprises of two phases.

Phase I

In Phase I, the applications are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Suitability/Motivation letter
  • Artistic and/or design practice
  • Other areas of competence

Only the applicants who fulfill the requirements and are ranked highest in the preliminary evaluation will be invited to the phase II in the selection process.

Phase II

In Phase II, the evaluation is based on the following criteria:

  • Suitability/Assignment
  • Suitability/Interview

Part of the applicants are invited to Phase II. The invitation to Phase II will be send to the applicants at latest 7 days in advance.

In Phase II of the admissions procedure, applicants complete an assignment within the given time. The assignment can be written or visual and is based on the provided material. Applicants who are invited to Phase II will be informed about any required equipment individually.

Phase II also includes a 20-minute interview. The interview and assignment can also be carried out remotely.

Final selection

After the evaluation conducted in Phase II, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation from Phases I and II.

Study-option-specific documents requested

The documents requested from all applicants are listed on the Aalto University website (https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). In addition, applicants to this study option are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:

Motivation letter

Applicants provide a written motivation letter (max 4,000 characters, single PDF file) explaining why they wish to apply to the degree programme in question, what their particular areas of interest in this field are, and what their objectives and hopes are regarding the studies at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Applicants should specify their personal strengths and areas of interest, artistic visions and objectives.

Lack of this application document will adversely affect the evaluation of the application.

Portfolio

The applicant’s name, address, phone number and the major applied for must be clearly visible on the first page of the portfolio. The recommended size of the portfolio is 20–30 pages, and it must be uploaded to the system as one (single) PDF file. A link to a portfolio on the applicant’s website is not sufficient.

The portfolio may consist of photos of individual artworks, sets of artworks, and documentation of exhibitions. The portfolio must showcase the applicant’s previous academic, professional and/or scientific activity in a diverse and comprehensive manner. The applicant may also submit one link to a video file (e.g. Vimeo, YouTube) with or without password protection as parts of the portfolio. The maximum duration of the work is 5 minutes (an edited file presenting one or several works). The possible password must be provided in the portfolio.

The title and/or theme of the work, the method of production, the material used, the size, the purpose and the year of completion and, if applicable, the place where the work was exhibited, displayed or published must be mentioned for each work.

Maximum size of the Portfolio is 1.0 GB. Name the file Portfolio-lastname-firstname.pdf. If your portfolio contains password protected video links, include the password(s) in your portfolio. If a portfolio is not uploaded to the online application form by the deadline, the application will be rejected.

Lack of this application document will affect adversely the evaluation of the application.

CV

The applicant’s curriculum vitae (single PDF file) with personal data, educational background, work experience, exhibitions, published literature and articles, awards and grants, study trips and positions of trust must be attached to the application.

Lack of this application document will adversely affect the evaluation of the application.

Language of application documents

The application documents must be submitted in Finnish (Swedish) or English.

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