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 modern photography.

Our degree programme offers diverse and inspiring studies in the fields of modern photography, documentary photography and art research. In our purposeful and expert 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 and visual outlook combined with our capacity for conceptual thinking.
In the programme we support your own personal expression and we offer a theoretical foundation for understanding photographic phenomena. Our broad range of courses include elective workshops on subjects such as practices of documentary and constructed photography, experimental studio work, the moving image, new photography platforms and the different working methods and themes of modern art.

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

Education content

The studies place emphasis on photography as an independent and multidisciplinary expressive tool and seek to develop your 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 vocational, artistic and research courses. The courses are composed of workshops, lectures, seminars, independent projects and personal supervision related to these. 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 suitable background education, an interest in the expressive potential of photography, and personal vision and motivation. The studies enable the development of advanced professional competence, expressive skills and theoretical thinking. Study results receive publicity every year through numerous domestic and international exhibitions, photographic journals and Helsinki School activities.

The Study guide for 2018–20 has been published in digital form.

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.

Content objectives

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

Skill outcomes

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

Academic skills

  • Students are familiar with the trends and methods used in research on photography and visual culture, as well as the theoretical backgrounds for these.
  • Students are able to read, analyse and write research texts and use different kinds of source material.
  • Students 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.

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 modern 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 to operate diversely in jobs in the field, 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 in the field.

Post-graduate study options

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


The studies aim at giving students the skills needed to work in the international field. Master’s students come from different parts of the world and the majority of the 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.

Admission procedure and programme-specific requirements

Our key selection criteria in the student admissions process are artistic vision, motivation and development potential. In addition, you are expected to have strong motivation, team skills and the capacity to commit to full-time study.

When applying, you must have as a minimum a bachelor’s degree which provides sufficient knowledge and skills for master’s degree studies in photography. An appropriate educational background would be, for example, a bachelor’s degree in the fields of photography or art.

The entrance exam has two parts. Only some of the applicants pass through to the second part. Selection is based on the applicant’s application documents, work portfolio, study plan, CV, interview and any entrance exam assignments.

Motivation letter (study plan)

Applicants draw up a written motivation letter (max 4,000 characters) 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 and design visions, artwork perspectives, and artistic objectives.

Motivation letter is part of the online application form.


The applicant’s curriculum vitae 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.

Applicants should upload their CV to the application system in a single PDF-file before submitting the application.


The applicant uploads the electronic portfolio to the application system as one PDF file before sending the application. Only one file can be uploaded to the system. The format of the file has been restricted to PDF.

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. 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 links to video files (e.g. Vimeo, YouTube) with or without password protection as parts of the portfolio. 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.

Language of application documents

Finnish, Swedish or English.

Program taught in:

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Last updated October 14, 2018
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 2019
Full time
15,000 EUR
€15,000 per academic year for non-EU/EEA citizens.
Request Info
The application period for studies starting in autumn 2019 runs from 3 December 2018 to 11 January 2019.
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By date
Start Date
Sep 2019
End Date
June 30, 2021
Application deadline
Request Info
The application period for studies starting in autumn 2019 runs from 3 December 2018 to 11 January 2019.

Sep 2019

Application deadline
Request Info
The application period for studies starting in autumn 2019 runs from 3 December 2018 to 11 January 2019.
End Date
June 30, 2021