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About the Program
Medical illustration is an interdisciplinary field—a creative combination of the visual arts, the health sciences, education, and communications. Historically, its roots were fully evident by the Renaissance, as seen in the work of research anatomists and educators such as Andreas Vesalius and in the artwork of the great figurative artists such as Leonardo DaVinci. Today, medical illustration involves the conceptualization, planning, design, production, implementation and evaluation of visual solutions for complex communication and education problems in the life and health sciences. Medical illustration incorporates various media and mediums—from static artwork to animation, from anatomical sculpture to instructional games, and from molecular modeling to physiological simulation. In short, medical illustrators visualize better health.
Medical Illustrators are specially trained artist-scientists. Entry into this unique field requires not only a talent for the graphic arts and visual storytelling but also an affinity for science.
The Medical Illustration Graduate Program is housed in the Dept. of Medical Illustration, College of Allied Health Sciences. It is one of only four such programs in the country. The program is accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
Currently, the program can accept a maximum of 9 students per year. Completion of the twenty-one-month curriculum (five consecutive semesters) results in the awarding of a Master of Science in Medical Illustration degree, granted through the College of Graduate Studies.
A medical illustrator’s work, unlike a photograph, must often show what cannot be directly observed in order to best communicate a scientific idea or complex medical concept. Therefore, an understanding of basic medical science is essential. Program students take graduate-level science courses, such as gross anatomy, cell biology and pathology, with the medical and dental students.
The program emphasizes anatomical and surgical illustration for print and electronic publication, as well as for projection and broadcast distribution. Students learn a variety of traditional illustration techniques as well as a great variety of computer graphic techniques to prepare images for print, projection, animated film and interactive multimedia presentations.
Throughout the curriculum, the faculty works with students to develop and refine their problem-solving and visual storytelling skills.
In addition to formal classes, seminars and lectures, students learn by hands-on performance, by participating in project critiques, and through peer-to-peer interactions. To better prepare our students to be productive in the rapidly evolving world of biomedical communications, program assignments are designed to give students practical experience as well as theoretical and factual knowledge.
- To develop and refine students’ expertise in various graphic and digital media.
- To provide the scientific foundation to prepare visual solutions to complex communication and education problems in the life and health sciences.
- To provide practical experience in the crafting of medical illustration.
- To prepare students for entry into the profession.
Medical illustrators work in a variety of venues, including medical, dental and veterinary schools, urban medical centers, large hospitals, and specialty health care clinics. They may work for advertising agencies and publishing companies, as well as for pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Medical illustrators may also work with attorneys to produce art to be used as educational exhibits in complex legal cases. Medical illustrators may work as employees—in large departments or single-person offices—or pursue private practice.
Please see the Office of Academic Admissions website for specific admissions information:
Academic Common Market
The Department of Medical Illustration participates in the Academic Common Market. Students from Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, or West Virgina may petition their home state to learn whether they qualify for in-state tuition.
Estimated Tuition and Fees
For estimated tuition and fees, please see the Financial Information section of this catalog.