How Much Does It Cost to Study Photography in South Africa?

Isn’t it intriguing to ponder the investment required to pursue a passion? How often have we wondered what it takes, not just in terms of dedication and time, but also in rands and cents, to master the art of capturing moments? If you’re considering studying photography in South Africa, one of the first questions you may have is, “How much will it cost?” Let’s explore the financial aspect of pursuing a photography course in South Africa.

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How Much It Cost to Study Photography in South Africa?

The cost of studying photography in South Africa can vary widely depending on factors such as the level of your program and the institution you choose. Generally, diploma or certificate programs range from approximately R20,000 to R50,000 per year, while Bachelor’s degrees can cost between R30,000 and R120,000 per year. Postgraduate studies may range from R40,000 to R150,000 per year. Accommodation costs can vary from R2,000 to R8,000 per month, and photography equipment expenses depend on your preferences but can start at around R20,000. Additionally, you should budget for living expenses, textbooks, and other incidentals. Scholarships and financial aid can help alleviate some of these costs, so it’s crucial to research your options and plan your finances accordingly.

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Tuition Fees

Tuition fees are a significant component of the cost of studying photography in South Africa. The fees can vary widely depending on the institution and the level of the course. Here’s a general breakdown:

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  1. Diploma or Certificate Programs: These programs usually have lower tuition fees and can range from approximately R20,000 to R50,000 per year. Public institutions often offer more affordable options, while private institutions may charge higher fees.
  2. Bachelor’s Degrees: Pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Photography tends to be more expensive. Tuition fees can range from R30,000 to R120,000 per year, depending on the university and whether it’s a public or private institution.
  3. Postgraduate Studies: If you plan to pursue a Master’s degree in Photography, the cost can vary significantly. Tuition fees typically range from R40,000 to R150,000 per year.

It’s important to note that tuition fees may increase annually, so it’s essential to check with your chosen institution for the most up-to-date information.

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Where to Study Photography in South Africa

Stimulating questions arise when considering pursuing a career in photography: Where can one acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in South Africa? Which institutions stand out for their reputation and course offerings? Here’s a list of notable institutions in South Africa where one can study photography:

  1. The Market Photo Workshop
    • Location: Johannesburg
    • Overview: Founded by renowned photographer David Goldblatt, this institution has played a pivotal role in training photographers from diverse backgrounds.
  2. Cape Town School of Photography (CTSP)
    • Location: Cape Town
    • Overview: Offers a variety of part-time courses, workshops, and full-time courses in both foundational and advanced photography.
  3. Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography
    • Location: Stellenbosch
    • Overview: Known for its Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts programme, which encompasses various disciplines, including photography.
  4. Vega School
    • Locations: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban
    • Overview: A higher education institution offering a variety of creative programmes, including photography.
  5. Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)
    • Location: Pretoria
    • Overview: Offers a National Diploma in Photography, providing both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.
  6. Durban University of Technology (DUT)
    • Location: Durban
    • Overview: Provides programmes in visual arts and photography, focusing on both practical and theoretical knowledge.
  7. Ruth Prowse School of Art
    • Location: Cape Town
    • Overview: Offers courses in Fine Art and Photography, with an emphasis on creative expression.
  8. Orms Cape Town School of Photography
    • Location: Cape Town
    • Overview: Renowned for its variety of courses, from short workshops to intensive programmes in photography.
  9. Nelson Mandela University
    • Location: Port Elizabeth
    • Overview: Provides a Fine Arts degree with a specialisation in photography, allowing students to explore their creativity in depth.
  10. University of Cape Town (UCT)
  • Location: Cape Town
  • Overview: While not exclusively focused on photography, UCT’s Michaelis School of Fine Art includes photography as part of its broader arts curriculum.

Each institution has its unique approach, strengths, and specialisations. Prospective students should investigate each school’s offerings, faculty, facilities, and alumni achievements to determine the best fit for their individual aspirations and goals in photography.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Many institutions in South Africa offer scholarships, grants, and financial aid to students based on academic performance, talent, and financial need. Scholarships can significantly reduce the cost of studying photography. Be sure to research and apply for scholarships that you may be eligible for to alleviate the financial burden.

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Cost of Living

The cost of living in South Africa can vary greatly depending on the city you choose to study in. Major cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban tend to be more expensive than smaller towns and rural areas. Your cost of living will include accommodation, food, transportation, and other daily expenses. On average, a student in South Africa may spend between R5,000 and R10,000 per month on living expenses.


Accommodation is a significant expense for students. You have several options, including university residences, private student housing, or renting your own apartment. Costs can vary from around R2,000 to R8,000 per month, depending on your choice and location.

Photography Equipment

Photography is a practical field, and you’ll need professional-grade equipment to succeed in your studies. The cost of camera gear, including a high-quality camera body, lenses, and accessories, can vary widely depending on your preferences and the level of equipment you require. A basic camera setup may cost around R20,000 to R40,000, while professional-grade equipment can exceed R100,000 or more.

Additional Costs

Don’t forget to budget for other expenses, such as textbooks, art supplies, software, and field trips. These additional costs can add up, so it’s essential to include them in your financial plan.


The cost of studying photography in South Africa varies depending on numerous factors, including the level of your program, the institution you choose, and your personal preferences. While it can be a significant investment, pursuing your passion for photography in South Africa offers a unique opportunity to explore a diverse and visually captivating environment. With careful financial planning, scholarships, and budgeting, you can make your dream of studying photography in South Africa a reality. Remember to research your options thoroughly and seek financial assistance when available to make your educational journey more affordable and enjoyable.