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.

Please Note: Upon approval of our revised curriculum proposal later this academic year, the MS in Biomedical Visualization program will begin classes for newly admitted students on 6/15/2020, instead of 8/24/2020, as previously scheduled.

Stats and Facts

17 journal covers
Featuring student artwork since January 2019 in the American Journal of Bioethics and the Northwestern Public Health Review
Header visualization from article
A/D/O highlights the "Rise of Biomedical Visualization"
Featuring quotes from recent graduate Nicole Ethen and Associate Program Director Leah Lebowicz.
A panel of experts presents at Northwestern University's annual spring symposium, entitled "Access to Health in Lagos: An Interdisciplinary Partnership with the Community."
Students speak at NPHR Symposium
Six BVIS second year students presented their impressive research at Northwestern University's annual spring symposium.
July 2019 cover of the American Journal of Bioethics by Dani Robinson
Student illustrated
Illustration created by Dani Robinson for the cover of the July 2019 American Journal of Bioethics
Six of seven winners of the Chancellor's Student Service and Leadership award
2019 Chancellor's Student Service and Leadership Awards
Seven BVIS second-year students were recipients of the 2019 Chancellor's Student Service and Leadership Award.
3 Awards
Taken home by Dani Bergey in the BioImages 2019 juried salon

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

  • Karen Bucher headshot

    Karen Bucher

    Illustrator for the Journal of the American Medical Association and esteemed BVIS faculty member

  • Isabel Romero Calvo

    Isabel Romero Calvo

    Molecular visualization expert, PhD, and BVIS faculty member

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.

Alyssa Nelson headshot

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 Alyssa Nelson 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 2014-2018 (our most recent data), 6-12 months post-graduation, is 95.6%.