MS in Biomedical Visualization

Where art, life science and medicine meet technology for visual communication

The UIC Master of Science in Biomedical Visualization provides an interdisciplinary graduate education to shape leaders in visual communication who create, disseminate and advance knowledge in the life sciences, healthcare and medicine.

Our MS in Biomedical Visualization—which we affectionately call BVIS—is the largest and second-oldest of four accredited programs of its kind in North America. With a curriculum at the cutting edge of science and technology, we attract candidates from among the life sciences, healthcare, fine and applied arts, and computer science. Our students become highly-skilled science visualization specialists in medical illustration, animation, interactive media, gaming, haptics, and virtual and augmented reality, working on the frontiers of discovery.

BVIS integrates medicine, life science, communication technology, visual learning, education science, research and artistic training.  We collaborate with Medicine, Bioengineering and other departments at UIC, one of the nation’s leading health research universities. Our close relationships with other Chicago medical universities, professional medical societies, medical advertising agencies, pharmaceutical companies, museums, animation studios and software companies give our students real-world, hands-on experience.

Stats and Facts

A We Are Alfred virtual reality user is looking at his hands through a headset that transforms him into a 74-year-old medical patient named Alfred
We are Alfred
Carrie Shaw '16 developed a virtual reality program to teach medical students about aging from a first-person perspective
Christine Young receives AMI 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award  (Photo credit: Ted Kucklick)
Christine Young receives Association of Medical Illustrators 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award
March 2016 cover of Northwestern Public Health Review depicting two doctors performing a surgical procedure of the continent of Africa
Student illustrated
Illustration created by Wai-Man Chan '16 on cover of March 2016 Northwestern Public Health Review
10 awards
won by eight BVIS students, alumni and faculty at the 2016 Association of Medical Illustrators Conference
50 years
of continuous graduate program accreditation

Your career

Our graduates prepare for careers in medical illustration and visual communication of life science, medicine, healthcare, medical technology and education. As the fields of biomedical discovery and visualization technologies expand, the demand for life sciences visualization specialists continues to grow.

Many of our graduates become board certified as Certified Medical Illustrators through the Association of Medical Illustrators. CMI status encourages lifelong learning and is a measure of professional competency, evaluated through a written test and portfolio review.

Learn from the best

  • John Daugherty

    John Daugherty

    Internationally recognized medical illustrator, winner of over 20 Association of Medical Illustrators awards, including the Max Brödel Award

  • Kevin Brennan headshot

    Kevin Brennan

    Developed content for the award-winning Visible Body project as senior content developer/animator at Argosy Publishing

  • Karen Bucher

    Karen Bucher

    Senior medical illustrator for the Journal of the American Medical Association and Fellow of the Association of Medical Illustrators

Understanding by doing

Our innovative and problem-based curriculum will give you hands-on experience in both the life sciences and the visual arts from the very first semester. You’ll take a minimum of five graduate-level life science courses, beginning with a required course in human cadaver dissection and later a course in clinical sciences. Electives include topics like molecular pharmacology for the medical illustrator, neuroanatomy and ion channels.

Develop your artistic and visual problem-solving skills with required courses in anatomical visualization, visual learning and visual thinking. Then continue on to study digital illustration, graphic design, 3D modeling, animation, interactive media, gaming, haptics, virtual reality, augmented reality, and computer programming. You’ll also be required to conduct original, independent research to produce a project or master’s thesis. Topics can be based on your interests, a request by department partners, or preparation for specialization in your career. These projects emphasize original and critical thinking, preparing you to be a leader and innovator in visual communication.

John Daugherty

We're here for you

Still wondering what an MS in biomedical visualization can do for you? Reach out if you have questions about our program, and we’ll make sure you get the answers you need.

You can contact John Daugherty at:


The Biomedical Visualization graduate program at UIC is one of four accredited graduate programs for medical illustration in North America. Programmatic accreditation by Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) ensures the standards by which our program is measured and have been developed by professionals in our discipline. The rigorous process of CAAHEP accreditation as well as annual oversight ensures that our program meets or exceeds these industry standards. Our program was recently reviewed in 2015 and awarded continuing accreditation in January, 2016 through 2024.

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
25400 U.S. Highway 19 North, Suite 158
Clearwater, FL 33763
Phone: 727-210-2350
Fax: 727-210-2354

In higher education, accreditation is recognition by a certified accrediting body that a university meets standards of performance and planning that students and the public can rely upon. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (HLC) is the accrediting body for UIC. UIC’s most recent accreditation was in 2007-2008, and the University has applied for continuing accreditation review this year.

Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604

Outcomes Data

This following data from recent graduate surveys is being published as required by our accrediting body, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. The five-year average positive placement rate for BVIS graduates 2011-2015 (our most recent data), 6-12 months post-graduation, is 95.1%.