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

Students and faculty gather to critique posters at Health Tech Jam
Inagural UIC Health Tech Jam
Students were issued a challenge: develop a technological solution to a common health care problem — and do it in just six hours
January 2018 cover of the American Journal of Bioethics
Student illustrated
Illustration created by Elizabeth Moss '17 on cover of the January 2018 American Journal of Bioethics
Leah Lebowicz head shot
Leah Lebowicz receives a 2017-18 Teaching Recognition Program Award for documented, teaching excellence
Natalie Yoshioka, award winner, with BHIS faculty member Eric Swirsky
2017 CGRA
BVIS second year, Natalie Yoshioka, was one of two students at UIC to win the 2017 Chancellor's Graduate Research Award
6 grants
2018 Vesalius Trust Research Scholarships won by BVIS students from the Vesalius Trust for excellence in graduate research work
The second year BVIS students gathered for a photo at the 2018 SAMA art show, "Art with Heart"
Art with Heart: 2018 SAMA gallery opens
The Student Association of Medical Illustrators 2018 art show will be open to the public at the International Museum of Surgical Sciences through the spring
40 awards
won by BVIS students in the past year for various illustrations, animations, and interactive projects
Angela's award winning poster presentation for her graduate research
Symposium work
Angela Gao’s research, “Comparing the Effectiveness and Engagement of Comics to 3D Animation in Teaching Advancements in Nanomedicine" was selected for inclusion at the National Academy of Sciences Sackler Student Fellows Symposium

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

  • Leah Lebowicz headshot

    Leah Lebowicz

    Award-winning educator and faculty of the BVIS program; teaches all levels of 3D modeling

  • Sam Bond headshot

    Sam Bond

    Illustrator, app developer, and educational game designer for physical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation at UIC

  • Rex Twedt

    Rex Twedt

    Interactive developer and animator; co-teaches high level animation courses in the BVIS program.

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 2013-2017 (our most recent data), 6-12 months post-graduation, is 95.9%.