Absolutely not. What you need is to take the time to study the theory, take ridiculous numbers of frames and ruthlessly evaluate each and every one, trying to develop a voice. Then spend probably 40+ hours a week marketing and printing your work.
The big thing these days is finding a niche that other people aren't working, or otherwise figuring out how to stand out. But, photography unlike most of the other arts, really doesn't require much schooling. Which is also why it's so much more competitive professionally than other arts are.
There's a reason why I'm a hobbyist and not a professional, I don't like having to commit that much to the process of making a living doing it. For me, I'm much happier doing other things which are easier for me to stand out at.
What counts most, almost to the point that it is all that matters, is that you have a good portfolio and that you know how to market it. You'd have a much better chance of making it as a photographer with a degree in business administration or marketing than you would with a degree in photography.
All depends what your definition of "successful" is, the contacts you make at University can last a lifetime & be very important, all depends what you make of it. You can work at Wal-Mart making portraits & getting paid to do so, for some that'd be considered "successful".
Degrees in photography are absolutely and completely useless.
That said, educations are not. If going to a 4 year college and studying photography is the best route for you to master the craft than it is definitely worth it. If you can gain a similar benefit from a 2 year college then it is just as worth it. The same goes for workshops, self training, assisting, etc. Clients don't generally care how you mastered the camera just that you have mastered it.
Photography isn't a career where a defined education is what gets you jobs. What gets you jobs is a combination of your portfolio strength, marketing skill, sales skill, and customer satisfaction. How you learn this is completely up to you.
Depends on where you want to work. You can be successful without it, but in the city where I live (Los Angeles), quite a few magazines and studios require you to have a degree in Photography, or at least Fine Arts. I do suggest getting a business degree though, very helpful. A degree, though, will not save you if you do not have an impressive portfolio! A portfolio is everything!
The piece of paper you get from college/uni for photography really doesn't matter. Really. The best part about going to college/uni for photography, in my opinion, is the network you get from it, plus the technical know-how from using your schools gear. That in itself, was the best part. Trust me, I did it.
But, not many photographers who are professional around here went to school for photography. They did other things-- I'm fairly certain one has multiple degrees in business, and military things, and the other has degrees related to the audio world. But, they're still very successful. It's based more on your creative talent, combined with your technical talent, to make you "successful".
...What is a successful photographer anywho? Been trying to figure this out for awhile.
I think the problem with photography today is that anyone with a point and shoot camera can be considered a photographer if they are produce art that has artistic merit. That being said if you do want to be employed by a company as a pro photographer i think it is a fine line between having the knowledge (e.g a degree) and showing employers what you can do (e.g having a portfolio) so i think if you have a really amazing portfolio you dont need to have a degree in photography, but if you are just starting out and dont have much in your portfolio then even if you start a degree it is showing that you are willing to learn. but i dont have a degree in photography.
But in saying this if you shoot for your self then you will only need a portfolio for your clients.