Study options

Master's Programme in Photography

Welcome to the Master’s Degree Programme in Photography at Aalto University! At the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, inspiring teaching combines with a deep understanding of contemporary photography.

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 will open 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

Scholarships and Tuition Fees
Applying to master’s programmes

Our degree programme offers diverse and inspiring studies in the fields of contemporary photography, documentary photography and artistic research. In our ambitious and professional community, you will develop your expressive skills and theoretical thinking and also obtain a professional qualification for working in the field. The key strengths of our programme are our strong artistic vision and emphasis on visuality combined with our capacity for conceptual thinking.

In the programme, we will support your own personal expression and offer a theoretical foundation for understanding comtemporary photographic phenomena. Our broad range of courses include elective workshops on subjects such as practices of documentary and staged photography, experimental studio, moving image, new platforms for photography and various working methods and themes of contemporary art.

Our up-to-date teaching facilities are located in Väre, Otaniemi’s inviting and international campus, just an 11-minute metro journey from Helsinki’s central railway station.

Content of the studies

The studies place emphasis on photography as an independent and multidisciplinary expressive tool and seek to develop students' artistic and research-orientated thinking.

The staff and students of the Master’s Degree Programme in Photography form an academic and creative community. The studies require independent work and are full-time. The studies include professional, artistic and research 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 the Department of Art or with social science, humanities or technical studies from other higher education institutes.

The studies require a suitable background education, an interest in the expressive potential of photography, and personal vision and motivation. The studies enable the development of specialist professional competence, expressive skills and theoretical thinking. The study results receive publicity every year through numerous domestic and international exhibitions, photographic journals and Helsinki School activities.

For more information about studies see Study guide for 2020–2022.

On the webpages for the Master’s Degree Programme in Photography, at http://photography.aalto.fi/, you can read in more detail about the programme’s content, research and projects.

Study objectives

Content objectives

  • Students will obtain the skills for experimenting with different forms of expression and working methods and for developing their own artistic work.
  • Students will deepen their powers of expression, their confidence in their own artistic vision and their professional competence.
  • Students will receive a broad understanding of the field of contemporary art and visual culture and know how to relate their own activities to this.
  • Graduates of the programme will understand the many different ways of using photography and the specific characteristics of each, and they will also be able to operate independently and professionally in the field of visual culture and fine art.

Skill objectives

  • Students will have a good command of the techniques and working methods that can support their expressive work.
  • Students will be familiar with the different kinds of presentation methods for photographs, as well as different publishing processes and platforms.
  • Students will be able to network both nationally and internationally and to present their own expertise to different audiences.
  • Upon completion of the studies, students will have the skills needed for engaging in lifelong learning.

Academic skills

  • Students will be familiar with the trends and methods used in research on photography and visual culture, as well as their theoretical backgrounds.
  • Students will be able to read, analyse and write research texts and use different kinds of source material.
  • Students will understand different kinds of research and writing methods and know how to apply these to artistic research or other activities.
  • Upon completion of the master’s programme, students have the skills for doctoral studies.

Further information about the languages of instruction

The programme is taught in Finnish and English. Students may write their master’s thesis in Finnish, Swedish or English.

Career opportunities

The goal of the Master’s Degree Programme in Photography is to help our students to discover their own strengths and to create opportunities for success in a continually changing and developing field. Our programme offers excellent opportunities for working in the fields of photography and contemporary art, and the programme has already become well-known thanks to a number of our internationally successful alumni. A Master of Arts degree also allows the student to apply for post-graduate studies leading to a Doctor of Arts degree.

Job titles

Master’s degree studies provide you with the skills needed in diverse range of positions, for example as a photographer, artist, photojournalist, photo editor, photography instructor, researcher, or in various organisational and advisory roles. Graduates of the programme often combine different tasks in their work.

Post-graduate study options

After completing a master’s degree the student can apply for doctoral studies in photography.

Internationalisation

The studies aim at giving students the skills needed to work in the international field. 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 supported and recommended. During the studies, it is possible to apply for programmes and workshops, present one’s own portfolio to professionals within the field and submit one’s own artwork to be included in Helsinki School exhibitions.

It is recommended that exchange studies are carried out during the autumn term of the second year. The student also has the opportunity to learn about current international research at the Helsinki Photomedia Conference that is held every other year.

Programme-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria

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 adversely affect 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 affect the evaluation of the application.

Language of application documents

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

The application period will open 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

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