You want to become a part- or full-time photographer offering your services to your region or beyond
The thirst for knowledge begins with a drive to be excellent in your field, and you start piecing together the info
Finally, a program that teaches you need to know and nothing you don't, in only ONE YEAR
Professional Intensive is a program specifically crafted for aspiring pros. It's for those who want to dedicate an entire year to learning all the right things the right way instead of fumbling through the process on their own.
If you've found yourself struggling to piece together your own education–through online classes, YouTube, books, etc.–and the idea of a carefully crafted curriculum sounds appealing, "PI" is for you.
If you've been "out there" working in the photo industry for a while, but you aren't seeing the results you want and you aren't sure what to do next, "PI" is for you.
If you love the idea of spending your days building and cultivating a photography business and you're willing to put in the work but you want help along the way, "PI" is for you.
You'll develop a technical foundation so strong it's ingrained. This is the reason RMSP requires that students take every foundational class, and why every student must become well versed in both commercial and retail photography. Being comfortably tech-savvy during a shoot means you can focus on what really matters: creativity and style.
Without the technical mastery and precision that deliver outstanding results, the effort you've put into your photography business won't matter. Plenty of photographers take good photos, but very few know how to create and produce exceptional work that will stand out in a saturated marketplace. Some professionals simply wing it, unsure what they're doing with their cameras and why. Not RMSP graduates.
Scheduled dates for the upcoming Professional Intensive program:
September 5, 2023 - May 10, 2024
To apply for Professional Intensive (PI), please click Apply Now and follow the online instructions. We accept applications for our Professional Intensive program up to the start of the program if space is available. However, due to limited enrollment, we suggest you apply early. In the event that the program is full, you will be notified and your name will be placed on a waiting list. There is no application fee.
During the application process you will be asked to:
Once your application is reviewed, RMSP will send an email to you indicating acceptance or denial. If you are accepted into the program, you will be asked to return to this website to enroll. To complete the enrollment process, you must read the Professional Intensive Program Catalog and sign our Enrollment Agreement. If you are younger than 18 years old at the time of enrollment, a parent or guardian must perform this task. You complete the enrollment process by paying your tuition deposit (see Tuition tab).
Important: Being accepted into the program does not reserve your spot. You must complete the enrollment process to officially register for Professional Intensive and reserve one of the 36 seats in the program.
No prior photographic experience is necessary for enrollment in Professional Intensive, however our selection process is designed to accept students who can meet the demands of this comprehensive and challenging education. In order to enroll in Professional Intensive, we require that you are a U.S. citizen, and that you:
Tuition for the 2023/2024 Professional Intensive program is $29,950.
A $1000 non-refundable*, non-transferable deposit is due upon enrollment in Professional Intensive. This deposit amount of $1,000 is applied to the tuition for the program. Ninety days before the start of the program, a minimum payment of $7,950 is due to RMSP. The remaining balance is due to RMSP 30 days before the start of the program.
**If a tuition payment is not made within 14 days of the due date (please see above), the student's spot in the program may be forfeited to a prospective student on the waiting list.**
In the event that a student's spot is forfeited due to non-payment, they can be re-registered as soon as the payment is made, provided that the program has not reached maximum enrollment.
*Tuition deposit is refundable to Veteran's Benefit Eligible Students who cancel their enrollment.**Please see the Professional Intensive Program Catalog for special considerations and exceptions regarding tuition payment policies for Veteran's Benefit Eligible Students.
Don't miss the Early Registration discounts! If you register by January 31st of the year the program begins, you'll receive $1,000 off your total tuition. If you register before March 31st of the year the program begins, you'll receive $500 off your total tuition.
Save money by paying with a check! Due to the large tuition amount of Professional Intensive, credit card processing fees can really add up. We always prefer students to pay by check when possible, but we understand that can make things difficult. That’s why we’re offering $250 off of your tuition if you make your first and second payment with a check.
Here's how it works when paying by check: Apply and register online by paying your $1000 deposit with a credit card (or call). When the first payment is due (90 days prior to the start date), make a check out to RMSP for $7950. When second payment is due (30 days prior to the start date), make a check out to RMSP for your remaining balance. That’s all there is to it. You save $250! Note: the check discount is not available to students using VA benefits to pay for their education. And yes, the check discount can be combined with the other PI discounts that we offer.
Throughout 36 weeks at RMSP, there is a lot of time for lectures, assignments, shoots, homework, fun, learning and community. But the most important part about the whole adventure is that you will leave with a massive foundation of applicable skills. Click here to see what Professional Intensive students will have learned upon graduation. It must also be noted that this lists only the advanced topics. The basic skills a student needs to understand some of these advanced concepts will also be covered thoroughly.
Professional Intensive Units:
Unit 1: Photography Foundations: This unit covers camera functions, exposure, natural lighting, composition, editing, output, and photo gear. You’ll also start to explore your own style, goals, and vision.
Unit 2: Professional Foundations: This unit covers an intro to artificial lighting (flash), Photoshop, basic business and entrepreneurship topics, and the main photo industry paths.
Unit 3: Studio Lighting: This unit covers studio lighting equipment, proper use and safety, and the basics of studio portraiture and product photography.
Unit 4: Business Idea: You’ll develop an initial business idea and pitch it to a panel of RMSP staff and instructors. You’ll also complete a self-directed shoot.
Unit 5: Focus Foundations: This unit provides a solid foundation for Unit 6 with advanced professional topics and an introduction to relevant software programs.
Unit 6: Focus Weeks: You’ll choose either a Retail or Commercial focus and cover relevant topics in marketing, pricing, client relations, shoot planning, image creation, and workflow.
Unit 7: Video & Content Creation: This unit covers an introduction to video and best practices for creating a variety of photo and video content for you or for a client / employer.
Unit 8: Website & Portfolio Development: This unit covers website design, content development, and additional marketing / sales topics. You’ll also pitch another portfolio-building shoot.
Unit 9: Breakout Weeks: This unit covers in-depth instruction on a variety of genres and paths from working photographers. You’ll choose 3 different topics that align with your path.
Unit 10: Business Development & Program Final: This unit covers legal and financial topics to help you start your business. You’ll also finalize your business plan, pitch, website, materials, and portfolio.
Professional Intensive runs for 36 weeks from September 5, 2023 – May 10, 2024. The program is divided into two phases (or semesters): Phase I in the fall and Phase II in the spring.
Students can expect the following breakdown of their time in the program:
Total expected "school time:" 400+ hours
~60% of time in classes & labs & image critiques
~15% of time at coordinated shoots in studio and on location
~25% of time working on your own photo projects/assignments
Total expected "in-school time:" 400+ hours
~50% of time in classes & labs & image critiques
~20% of time at coordinated shoots in studio and on location
~30% of time working on your own business/projects/assignments
Also, students may choose to add about 200 hours to their "PI" experience:
- attending additional classes on special topics
- utilizing open studio time for their assignments and personal projects
- going on weekend group field trips
Professional Intensive is further organized into units (see Curriculum Details tab). Students receive a detailed daily schedule before the start of each unit. Required classes are scheduled Monday through Friday within the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., although classes do not always fill that entire time period each day. The daily schedule of classes varies by unit and by individual class durations. Students can expect to be in class a minimum of 24 hours per week, excluding unit finals weeks and holiday and other breaks.
The academic calendar includes the following holidays/breaks:
September 5, 2023: Program Start / First Day of Phase I
November 10, 2023: No Classes (Veterans’ Day observed)
November 22-26, 2023: No Classes (Thanksgiving Break)
December 15, 2023: Last Day of Phase I
December 16, 2023 – January 7, 2024: No Classes (Holiday Break)
January 8, 2024: First Day of Phase II
January 15, 2024: No Classes (MLK, Jr. Day)
February 19, 2024: No Classes (Presidents’ Day)
March 9-17, 2024: No Classes (Spring Break)
May 10, 2024: Last Day of Phase II/- Program End
See the RMSP space and why it's a great place to learnShow me RMSP
A great place to live, recreate, and photographMissoula Specifics
Housing recommendations for RMSP studentsSee Recommendations
Learn which equipment is required for our program and whySee Equipment List
Detailed loan information & tips for alternate fundingSee Financing Suggestions
Professional Intensive Tuition Refund Policy for Students Using VA Education Benefits
For students receiving VA education benefits who withdraw from the Professional Intensive program, RMSP will refund the portion of the tuition which represents the percent of the program not completed (as measured in days). Portion paid by the VA will be refunded to the VA according to the following table. Portion paid by the student will be refunded to the student according to the following table. Refunds will be made within 40 days of written notice of withdrawal.
In the case of a student’s prolonged illness or injury or a death or severe injury in the student’s immediate family, RMSP, at its sole discretion, will make a settlement that it considers reasonable and fair to both parties. The settlement proposed may include an option for re-enrollment in a future instance of the program. The school will propose a settlement within 30 days of the official date of withdrawal.