Application procedure

Photo: Maximilian von Lachner

Application requirements What qualifications do I need to have in order to apply?

Prof. Bauernschmitt: Every applicant needs to have a diploma from a secondary school qualifying for university admission. Besides that, every applicant must submit a portfolio with samples of their work. What language is spoken in the courses?

Prof. Bauernschmitt:  So far, all courses are in German only. International students might need to prove their German capabilities with a German certificate. How many photography students take up their studies each year?

Prof. Bauernschmitt: At the moment, about 35 to 40 students (in 2014). And how many candidates apply for the university places?

Prof. Bauernschmitt: The number of candidates ranges from 130 to 200. Is there course guidance with the possibility to show portfolios?

Prof. Bauernschmitt: Yes, the dates for portfolio guidance are posted on our web page.  It is sufficient to show your photographs on simple DIN A4 laser-printed paper. There is no need to waste money on expensive photographic paper for course guidance. What happens in the application procedure?

Prof. Bauernschmitt: Candidates apply with a portfolio until March 15 every year. If the portfolio is accepted, you are invited to a test and get a homework assignment. You have to bring it to the exam, which consists of a colloquium and two design tasks. With at least one point, you can apply for a university place. The applicants get the final notification approximately in July. What are the formal criteria for the portfolio? How many photos should be included?

Prof. Bauernschmitt: The portfolio should show that the applicant is interested in the narrow profile of our teaching: photojournalism. We want to see at least three self-contained works, which should be picture groups. As picture groups, we consider reportages, essays and series. At least one of the works should be a reportage and the works should somehow be about people. The other picture groups can be on architecture, portrait, landscape etc. It is important to us that each work have a thematic framework. Depending on the subject, the three works should consist of 10 – 20 photos. Each work should be preceded by a page of text, with three or four sentences that explain what the picture sequence is about. The size 30 x 30 cm is a good size for the application portfolio. It is easy to handle in the review; what’s more, both and horizontal and vertical pictures can be presented in the same size. The portfolio should have a strong board at the front and at the back, all held by a spiral binding. Anyone who wants something classier is free to invest more in the portfolio. What about different media in the portfolio? Do the prospective students have to present drawings?

Prof. Bauernschmitt: It can´t do any harm to have good drawings in the portfolio. On the other hand, we have never rejected a candidate just because he or she had only photos in the application portfolio. That would be absurd – there are many excellent photographers who cannot draw. Can digital data be submitted on a CD?

Prof. Bauernschmitt: No, digital image carriers are accepted only for the presentation of films. [Editor’s note: video, moving images] What makes a promising portfolio?

Prof. Bauernschmitt: Journalistic or documentary photographs that tell a story and are well composed.


Photo: Maximilian von Lachner

Application procedure If the portfolio is accepted, what happens next?

Prof. Fromm: After reviewing the portfolios, we invite about 60 candidates to do the qualification test. Along with the application, the applicants receive a homework assignment which can be completed by the use of photographic means. This work has to be brought to the test and presented in a colloquium. In addition, there are three more tasks, two of which have to be completed. By late afternoon, the total points are read out. The test is passed with one point, but this does not guarantee a university place – the points table of all tested candidates is the decisive factor. What happens in the qualification test? Can the candidates take pictures?

Prof. Fromm: One task will be a photographic assignment. The pictures are printed on a laser printer. Do bad drawers have a disadvantage?

Prof. Fromm: There is no exclusively graphic task at the qualification test. So don’t worry! Do the candidates find out whether they have been accepted on the qualifying day?

Prof. Fromm: No, they only find out how many points they achieved. But you can tell a lot from the number of points that you gained. Generally, you have passed the test if you achieved one point, but that does not guarantee a university place. The required score can be calculated from the number of the points that all applicants gained. If the average is very high, you will need more points to gain a university place than if the average is low. What criteria are important in an application? What do you expect from prospective students?

Prof. Fromm: Above all, we expect passion for storytelling with photos. We are not the right place for those applicants who still have to find themselves photographically. If you do not know whether your genre should be commercial photography, art, fashion or architectural photography, you will be better off at one of the universities with a higher bandwidth, such as Bielefeld, Dortmund or Mainz. Additionally, we expect commitment, social skills and social interest.

Study with us What does the University of Applied Sciences and Arts offer students?

Prof. Fromm: We can offer a dedicated team of technical staff and faculty, a beautiful university building at a high technical standard in terms of its facilities and studio, many exhibition and third-party funding projects commissioned by editorial departments and companies located all over the world, education that is vocation-oriented and, every two years, a week-long overseas field trip as well as the Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism, which has participants from all over the world. How much time do the students spend at the university? How much time do they have to take pictures?

Prof. Fromm: That is hard to say as it depends on the semester, but at least one entire day a week is free of appointments at the university. Is it possible to reconcile studies with a part-time job?

Prof. Fromm: That depends on the working hours. But many students have part-time jobs, so it should work. With the new curriculum, we have made the studies less compact and decreased the number of graded courses. How much money do students have to spend?

Prof. Trippel: There are about 260 euros for administration fees, including a ticket for public transport. For materials etc., you should expect to spend about 100 – 150 euros per semester. Is it possible to complete the Bachelor workload in 8 semesters?

Prof. Trippel: Theoretically yes, practically probably not. If the goal of your studies is to be in the market as a halfway competent photographer, you should – if you can afford it – give your studies time. Finally, a successful photographer has something like personal maturity. I would not leave the university until I felt ready for what awaited me outside.


Photo: Maximilian von Lachner

Perspectives What are the future job prospects for young photojournalists? What should graduates expect?

Prof. Trippel: That depends very much on themselves. Most of the graduates work as freelance photographers and those who were already committed during their studies also get along as freelancers. Some of them work as photo editors, for example at the F.A.Z. Ultimately, there are too many photographers on the market and only quality and self-promotion offer the security to get by. Is there an internship semester? What options are there for students of photojournalism and documentary photography?

Prof. Trippel: An internship is a compulsory part of our program. Until now, we have cooperated with the F.A.Z. in Frankfurt, the Weser Kurier in Bremen and the HAZ and Neue Presse in Hannover. During these internships, the students have the possibility to work as staff photographers for 6 months. Of course, there are not enough of these internship positions for all of our students, but some prefer to do their internship semester at editorial offices or at photo agencies. The others have to organize their own internships. Are there partnerships with universities abroad?

Prof. Trippel: There are a number of partnerships offered by the Erasmus program. They are not specific to the needs and interests of the students of the degree program Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, but for the whole faculty. This means that at some of the partner schools, photography is not taught at all or is only a marginal part of the program. But you can use the time to take photos, get to know a different country, a different culture and other students. We are just starting to seek collaborations with other universities with an outstanding photography education. Our cooperation with Aarhus is a beginning and we intend to expand such partnerships. The problem is that many good universities demand extremely high tuition fees from their students and we want to cooperate only with universities that do not ask tuition fees from our students.

Comments are closed.