To answer your question - What do the photography programs teach?
I've just finished first semester:
Foundation Studies - Camera skills ( angle of view, DoF, exposure), darkroom skills,
Photographic Practise - Choose two from Still Life, Landscape or Portrait, research, produce set of images.
Historical Studies - from Fox Talbot to 1960's.
reading list: Bruce Warren - Photography, Sontag - On Photography, Liz Wells - Photo Reader & Critical Introduction
When i was stuck for ideas for my assignments the advice the lecturers gave was - Just start photographing. And it works, the ideas develop as you go along.