Benefits / Resources / Articles
May 10, 2024

The Path to Earning a PPA Degree

Photographers pursue a PPA degree for various reasons: to challenge themselves, enhance their skills, boost their business credibility, contribute to their community, and much more. PPA provides four distinct degree pathways to achieve these goals: Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsman, Master Artist, and Master of Wedding Photography.

In this article, we break down the three different types of merits needed to earn a PPA degree which consists of a total of 25 merits!

Exhibition Merits

To earn exhibition merits, a photographer submits photographic digital files or digital albums into the Merit Image Review. These submissions are evaluated by a panel of trained jurors who judge the images against a standard of excellence called the 12 Elements of a Merit Image. Exhibition merits recognize photographers for their artistic skills, technical proficiency, and ability to produce images that meet the highest standards of excellence.
To earn the master of photography degree, photographers need to amass 13 exhibition merits through the Merit Image Review as well as an additional 12 exhibition, service, or speaking merits.

Those seeking the master of wedding photography degree submit images in the day of wedding photography category. These are images where the final submission only contains elements captured at the wedding, highlighting the personality of the subject as well as the technical and artistic skills of the photographer. For the master of wedding photography degree, photographers must obtain 13 wedding exhibition merits and an additional 12 exhibition, service, or speaking merits.

Earning the master artist degree requires photographers to submit images to the Merit Image Review for evaluation of computer-applied techniques and proficiency. All processing, manipulation, artwork, and rendering must be done by the photographer. A total of 13 artist exhibition merits are required for the master artist degree, plus an additional 12 exhibition, service, or speaking merits.

Speaking Merits

To acquire speaking merits, photographers share knowledge and experience through instruction at PPA Community Network Associations or Community Network School events. These merits are essential for earning the photographic craftsman degree, as a combination of 13 speaking merits and 12 exhibition, service, or speaking merits are required to obtain it.

Service Merits

To collect service merits, photographers contribute to the PPA community through volunteer work. For example, service merits are awarded to those who serve as volunteers at Imaging USA or through attending PPA Community Network Events.


We hope this summary of the different merits and PPA degrees has helped! For more information on PPA degrees, visit our degrees page!