Frequently Asked Questions

About the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Medical Illustration Graduate Program...

Per direction of the University System of Georgia (USG) in March 2020, AU issued a shelter at home mandate and closed the campus. After a brief transition period, online instruction was provided to keep current students on-track with their degree plans. Over the Summer, AU faculty and staff worked diligently to adapt the campus and classrooms for socially-distant in-person instruction. In August the campus was reopened and Fall classes resumed. As of August 10th, the Medical Illustration Graduate Program has been offering in-person instruction.

Because teaching live and in-person provides a richer learning environment which enhances engagement as well as student/teacher and student/student communications, we are fully committed to in-person instruction. Our students, faculty & staff all abide by the CDC guidelines for social distancing, wearing of facial masks/coverings, regular hand-washing and use of hand-sanitizer, and the routine sanitizing of work surfaces.

All AU students, faculty & staff follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing, wearing of facial masks/coverings, regular hand-washing and use of hand-sanitizer, and the routine sanitizing of work surfaces. AU requires everyone to wear a CDC-recommended facial mask or covering while indoors and to maintain at least 6-feet of social distance while on campus. When classes resumed this Fall, AU provided each student, staff and faculty member with 2 facial masks. One of our loyal and caring alumni provided an additional 2 masks for each of our students, staff and faculty. Additional info about the health and safety of AU students, staff and faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the AU website by clicking here.

At this time, AU is closed to visitors and guests— Only authorized students, staff and faculty (and pre-qualified vendors) are allowed on campus.

Our medical illustration facilities are essentially self-contained. Our students each have a private 7x7-foot study carrel in the department, which promotes appropriate social distancing yet allows easy peer-to-peer and student/faculty interaction. Each carrel is equipped with a state--of-the-art Mac with all the software required to complete the program. Our dedicated classroom and library is configured to maintain 6-feet of distance between occupants. In addition, we are equipped to provide instruction—usually mediated computer-based tutorials—directly to the students in their study carrels. Our library has a catalog of more than 2,500 books and references. We also have a dedicated computer lab in the department for shared resources, such as printers, scanners, and specialty workstations. Hand-sanitizer stations are located throughout the department. To promote disinfecting of work surfaces, we have multiple stations in the department for sanitary wipes.

At this time, AU is closed to visitors and guests—only authorized students, staff and faculty (and pre-qualified vendors) are allowed on campus. This will affect our program's application requirement of an in-person interview.

Because admission to the Medical Illustration Graduate Program is very competitive, not all applicants may be granted an interview. The program's Admissions Committee will determine which applicants qualify for an interview based on a holistic review of each applicant's academic records, portfolio, and the information provided in their application.

For this year's admission cycle (Class of 2021 - 2023) interviews will be conducted via WebEx video conferencing software. We will work with each applicant to schedule their interview, and will provide the necessary  log-on information as well as the details for how the interview will be conducted.

The decision to close the campus and direct students to shelter in place (or at home) resides with the University System of Georgia (USG). If the USG issues another shelter at home directive and mandates closure of the campus,  AU would again transition swiftly and effectively to online instruction.

We are fully committed to keeping our current students on-track for their degree plan and on-time for graduation. Our students would again be allowed to take their student computer home with them in order to continue classes online. As we experienced in the Spring, we anticipate only a 1 or 2 day transition period between in-person and online instruction.

 

Yes, it is an essential element when assessing our applicants. The GRE is the best indicator of likely success in graduate-level science courses. It also serves as an apples-to-apples comparator between applicants. We typically receive between 40 and 65 applications a year, yet we can admit only 9 students. Our goal is to admit the brightest and most talented students each year, and GRE scores are a vital part of achieving that goal.

Students have 5 years from the date of matriculation to complete the requirements for their degree. Our Medical Illustration Graduate Program is designed as a full-time course of study. The curriculum is linear in nature, meaning that the courses must be taken in a specific sequence. Some courses are offered in 2 parts, in consecutive semesters. Courses are offer only once a year. Our art and sciences courses are interlaced to achieve a more practical and effective synergy of the two that fosters integrated critical thinking and problem solving. For all these reasons, it is not possible to offer the program on a part-time basis.

If you are accepted, you may request deferment for one year. You can request deferment via letter to the Program Director (Prof. Bill Andrews). Requests for deferment must be made in writing by June 1. You would have to request a new one-year deferment if you chose not to matriculate in the next year.

Please note that entry into the program occurs only in the Fall, with classes typically starting in the 2nd week of August.

Yes, if accepted, you may request a deferment of one year. A request for deferment is made via letter to the Program Director (Prof. Bill Andrews). Requests for deferment must be made in writing by June 1. You would have to request a new one-year deferment if you chose not to matriculate in the next year.

On-time graduation is very likely. Despite the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent dispersal of students to shelter at home, the Class of 2020 graduated on time in May 2020r. The transition from in-person instruction to online instruction lasted just 2 days. No courses were canceled, and only a few class sessions had to be rescheduled. We see no practical barriers to our current students graduating on time.

We continue to teach our full and regular curriculum. We have always included lectures and presentations by adjunct faculty and guest speakers, usually via in-person appearances. Thanks to the pandemic, we have become more adept at leveraging the power of video conferencing to enhance our stimulating in-person classes by including more guest speakers on a wider variety of topics and from greater distances. For example, this Fall we have incorporated guest lectures by experts from overseas. However, in-person instruction remains our primary focus because it is a much richer, more engaging, and more enduring learning experience.

The AU COVID-19 information page can be found by clicking here. There is a tab for information specifically for students and parents.

About the profession of medical illustration...


Although it is unlikely that any one person exhibits all the qualities listed here, a successful medical illustrator usually embodies several of the following characteristics:

  • A strong interest in the human body and how it works, in health and in sickness,
  • The ability to visualize objects and render them in a realistic manner, often without the benefit of any physical references (i.e., drawing from the imagination),
  • A concern for accuracy in a drawing,
  • The ability to listen carefully, understand fully, and to seek out answers to remaining questions,
  • A strong ability to communicate and explain, both verbally and visually,
  • The ability to learn, adopt and implement new technologies,
  • Self-confidence and strong self-esteem (i.e., a thick hide)—this enables one to take criticism and correction (sometimes delivered emphatically) while keeping a cool head,
  • Self-motivation and ambition to be an outstanding visual storyteller in the health sciences,
  • Common sense and practicality, and
  • A desire to help others through the illustrations, animations and models they produce.

Again, most successful medical illustrators have varying degrees of the above qualities. Many of the qualities listed are acquired through experience in the field or through additional education after graduate school.

The salary range is quite wide and depends on many factors, including: the market, geographic location, experience, position/title, artistic skills, area of expertise, business savvy, and diligence. Several of the most financially successful illustrators in the field earn well over $100,000 annually. Salaries for new graduates have been rising, and our graduates over the past few years have received starting salaries between $55,000 and $95,000 annually. The average is approximately $63,000.

The job market appears to be growing and evolving, driven now by advances in medicine and technology. Computer graphics and the Internet have broadened the job market considerably for medical artists.

Among our recent graduates entering the workforce, approximately 2/3 find employment within 90 days of graduation. And nearly all secure a job within 180 days.

This is a difficult question to answer, because the possibilities are so varied and numerous. In the past, a medical illustrator was usually employed by a university-based hospital or institution, where their primary role was to create surgical illustrations for medical textbooks and journals. This has been changing steadily over the past few decades, and medical illustrators are now finding employment in a variety of areas. Current trends we have observed include:

  • The market for textbook and atlas print publication— Historically this market has dominated the field of medical illustration. However, this market has contracted over the last 4 decades, being supplanted largely by digital and online publication. Many professional medical societies now have publication divisions to support the ongoing educational needs of their members. The need for visual content remains strong, though, supporting a steady need for in-house talent and contractor services;
  • The medical school and teaching hospital market— Medical schools (including dental and veterinary schools), teaching hospitals, and specialty healthcare clinics have historically been the major employers of medical artists. However, during federal and state budget cuts that began in the 1980s, in-house medial illustration units began to be down-sized or even closed. This trend began to reverse about a decade ago. This market now attracts about 10% of our graduates annually. The contraction in this market spurred the emergence and growth of private practice medical illustration studios;
  • The medical-legal field— This specialized market supporting civil litigation involving personal injury, medical malpractice, and product liability first emerged about 4 decades ago and continues to be strong, attracting about 30% of our graduates annually;
  • The market for patient education materials— As an identifiable market, patient education began emerging more than a decade ago and is still growing;
  • The market for public health information— This market seems to have emerged post-WWI with efforts by the federal and state governments to improve public hygiene and sanitation, protect and improve the health of citizens, and to combat and control epidemics. With the appearance of global pandemics over the last 3 to 4 decades, the market for public health info has grown greatly. This market attracts about 10% of our graduates annually;
  • The editorial market (cover art and inside art for periodicals)— This market remains vibrant, but has contracted appreciably over the last 3 decades. There is need for content for both print and online publication;
  • The market for continuing education and testing services— This specialty market began emerging almost 3 decades ago and has grown strongly over the last decade. Based largely on digital and online publication, it is an off-shoot of the traditional print publication market. This market attracts about 10 - 20% of our graduates annually; 
  • The advertising and marketing support service arena— The market for creative services supporting the pharmaceutical, medical device, and healthcare provider industries is expanding again after a significant contraction over the last 2 decades. This market attracts about 10 - 20% of our graduates annually;
  • The demand for animation (2D and 3D)— This market began after WWII and remained small due to the cost and amount of time involved. With the advent of personal computers and easier to use software, this market started growing strongly about 3 decades ago and is still expanding;
  • The market for medical sculpture and non-weight-bearing prosthetics— This small and specialized market has existed for many decades. There are three identifiable segments: educational models and training simulators, marketing support, and patient quality of life. The development of new materials and digital 3D printing/manufacturing has fostered growth in these market segments. For non-weight-bearing prosthetics (mostly facial, hand and breast appliances), advanced training resulting in certification is strongly recommended.

One interesting megatrend is that approximately one-third of professional medical illustrators will ultimately work for themselves as full-time private practice illustrators.

No, quite the opposite is true. The computer has provided many more venues, techniques, and opportunities for medical illustrators, and has contributed to the growth in this field.

For more information about the profession of medical illustration, contact the Association of Medical Illustrators.

 

About the Medical Illustration Graduate Program at Augusta University...

Our Medical Illustration Graduate Program is 5 consecutive semesters, or 21 months. All students begin with the Fall semester and graduate after the Spring semester of their second year. For additional information, please visit the Curriculum page of this website.

Program entry occurs only in the Fall semester, which typically begins during the second week of August.

Perhaps. Our Medical Illustration Graduate Program is offered as a full-time in-person course of study. The curriculum is comprised of 63 credit hours of instruction, which is considered a rigorous load. The normal operating hours for the program are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. That said, on most days our art/media classes begin at 9:00 and end around 4:00. However, the science classes, generally held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, start at 8:00. On average, students spend approximately 4 hours in class per day. For each hour spent in class, the students are expected to put in 1 – 2 hours of additional individual study in order complete their assignments and projects. Our students have 24/7 access to the department and the Student Studio because they usually do their homework here on campus. We provide each student with a study carrel and a computer with all the software they need. Because of the amount of time spent on campus each day, we strongly recommend students live within 30 minutes of campus. Most live within 15 minutes of campus.  

Teaching live and in-person provides a richer and more engaging learning environment, which promotes student/teacher and student/student interaction. In-person communication facilitates clarity and understanding, which better supports effective learning. In-person instruction also promotes more memorable and enduring learning outcomes. We are fully committed to in-person instruction.

Students have 5 years from the date of matriculation to complete the requirements for their degree. Our Medical Illustration Graduate Program is designed as a full-time course of study. The curriculum is linear in nature, meaning that the courses must be taken in a specific sequence. Some courses are offered in 2 parts, in consecutive semesters. Courses are offer only once a year. Our art and sciences courses are interlaced to achieve a more practical and effective synergy of the two that fosters integrated critical thinking and problem solving. For all these reasons, it is not possible to offer the program on a part-time basis.

Our program is one of the least costly of its type. Based on the in-state tuition rate, the current estimate of tuition and fees for the entire 21-month experience is roughly $34,000. When considered in conjunction with the modest cost of living in Augusta, our program is truly an exceptional value. For more precise tuition information, please refer to the School of Graduate Studies Tuition & Fees page on the Office of the Registrar website. Info specifically about fees is in the next section.

Augusta University is a participant in the Academic Common Market. Students from Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia or West Virginia may petition their home state to learn whether they qualify for in-state tuition at Augusta University.

In addition, Augusta University can often grant in-state tuition (through a special waiver) to out-of-state and foreign students in our unique Medical Illustration Graduate Program.

In addition to tuition, there are several student fees, such as an activity fee and a technology fee. For a detailed list, please refer to School of Graduate Studies Tuition & Fees.

For books, supplies and personal equipment, we estimate approximately $1,600 for the first year (three semesters), and $600 for the second year. Additional costs per semester, if necessary, are estimated at $100.

Yes, all students attending Augusta University must offer proof of health insurance coverage. For more information, please refer to Health Insurance section of the Student Services website.

For information about financial aid and scholarships, please refer to the Financial Aid Office. We participate in the Federal Work-Study Program. If eligible, students will be able to reduce school loans by participating in Work-Study. For our students, all Work-Study tasks are performed in the Dept. of Medical Illustration.

The Medical Illustration Graduate Program is part of the Dept. of Medical illustration. We are located on the ground floor of Pavilion III, in suite 1101, on the Health Sciences campus. Our street address is 1474 Laney-Walker Blvd., Suite 1101, Augusta, GA 30912.

Augusta is the second largest city in Georgia. It situated at the fall line of the Savannah River. To the north are forested rolling hills leading to the uplands and piedmont area of the Appalachian Mountains. To the west are the rich rolling plains of Georgia's farmlands. Phinizy Swamp Nature Preserve is immediately to the south of Augusta, with farmlands and pecan groves a bit farther to the south. Across the river to the east, are the midlands of South Carolina. For more information about things to see and do in Augusta, click here.

Augusta University is an open, easily-accessible institution. Augusta University has multiple campuses, each with their own purpose and unique setting. The core undergraduate campus is referred to as the Summerville campus, which is situated in the Summerville residential neighborhood on the hill that is just to the northwest of downtown. The athletic fields, tennis courts, and golf course are situated on the Forest Hills campus, which is a few miles west of downtown. The computer and cyber science programs are situated on the Riverfront (Nathan Deal) campus, which is on the western shore of the Savannah River in downtown. Our Medical Illustration Graduate Program is located on the Health Sciences campus, which is immediately west of downtown and is home to the College of Allied Health Sciences, College of Nursing, Dental College of Georgia, Medical College of Georgia, and Robert B. Greenblatt MD Library. The AU Health System—comprised of a Level-1 trauma hospital and the Children's Hospital of Georgia—is also located on this campus. For a virtual tour of the Health Sciences campus click here. For virtual and in-person tours of all AU campuses please click here. For a look at the campus maps please click here.

All of the classes in our program are taken on the Health Sciences campus, and all are within an easy 5-minute walk of the department.

There are limited single and married student housing options available on-campus. The cost is considered to be inexpensive. Most of our students live off-campus, usually within five miles of campus. Housing in Augusta is moderate in cost and readily available. AU has a modest dormitory facilities, which are located on the Health Sciences campus. For detailed information on housing, please contact the Student Housing Office.

Yes, although the Augusta University campus is growing rapidly there is plenty of parking on campus, though not necessarily close to our building. Parking fees for general parking are quite reasonable. For further information about parking, please visit the Parking Service Bureau.

It varies greatly from year to year. Since our founding in 1948 the number of female and male students has remained fairly equal. However, over the last few years there has been a notable increase in female students. The age range varies from the 20s to the mid-40s. In addition to young people seeking further education, this field also attracts many older, successful professionals who seek to broaden their horizons. For additional information, please visit the Students page within this website.

We have created a curriculum that combines the best, most important elements of both traditional and computer techniques. We update the curriculum annually to reflect changes in the field. The result is a dynamic program that provides the focused, comprehensive and practical training needed for entry into the profession of medical illustration. For additional information, please visit the Curriculum page of this website.

Our curriculum is linear in nature; that is, the skills and knowledge acquired in the beginning courses form the foundation for additional learning in subsequent courses. All students take the same courses in the same order. As a consequence, we do not currently offer any electives.

Science courses are taught by the medical school faculty in various locations across the Health Sciences Campus in fully-equipped classrooms, labs and/or conference rooms. For example, gross anatomy dissections are conducted in the state-of-the-art cadaver lab, and our surgical techniques course is taught in the Experimental Operatory.

Illustration, media and business courses are taught in our departmental conference room. This room is the perfect setting for small group learning. Reference materials are always readily available—the room also serves as our library, home to our 3,000+ collection of medical and art books. There is also state-of-the art AV and computer equipment at hand.

We are very fortunate to be have a large Student Studio. Each student has a semi-private study carrel assigned to them. The carrels are arranged around the perimeter of the room. Each carrel includes an Apple Mac computer with dual monitors and a WACOM graphics tablet. Shared production equipment and storage units are arranged in the center of the room. The room is fully wired for the Internet, and we have AV stations at either end of the room for conducting tutorials in the Studio.

The students have their own kitchen, just off of the Studio.

For scanning and 2D color printing, we have a dedicated Computer Lab, featuring Epson scanners and color printers (for black & white printing and copying, there is a printer located in the Studio). The server and most of the clients for our animation renderfarm are housed in the Computer Lab as well, as are a number of special-purpose workstations. Our soundbooth is also in this area.

For medical sculpture and 3D printing, we have a Medical Sculpture Lab. It is in another building, just a couple of blocks from our main facility. The lab includes filament and resin 3D printers, and a 3D scanner. We will also have a wet lab area for working with molding and casting materials.

The David J. Mascaro Gallery is home to our collection of over 400 outstanding examples of professional medical illustrations and sculptures. Numerous pieces are mounted on the walls throughout the department. The Gallery provides instructional and inspirational examples of the various techniques, media, styles, and genres in medical illustration. We also have dedicated display cases that feature current works by our students.

No, each student carrel is equipped with a high-performance Apple Mac computer. In addition, we have special purpose computers available in our computer lab.

You may, of course, bring your own computer. Some software programs, such as Microsoft Office, can be installed on a student's personal computer under the AU license. However, this does not include all of the programs we use in the Medical Illustration Graduate Program—some programs are licensed for AU computers only.

While our campus is considered to be quite safe and secure, AU cannot be responsible for any loss of or damage to your personal computer while on campus.

 

About the application process for our program...


No. Any bachelor degree from an accredited college or university will qualify. No preference is given to BFA, BA, or BS degrees.

Yes. We look for a combined verbal and quantitative score of 295 or better. The average GRE score for successful applicants is approximately 306.

No. Due to the very unique nature of our program and curriculum, we cannot accept advanced placement credits nor transfer credits.

Absolutely. We require evidence of basic competency in computer graphics. in the Applicant Portfolio,  we require samples of both raster-based (e.g., Adobe Photoshop™) and vector-based (e.g., Adobe Illustrator™) images. However, we do not require formal classes in any specific software program. All fields in the graphic arts have been permanently and profoundly changed by computer technology, and our curriculum reflects that change. We do not teach basic computer skills here—the incoming student is expected to have acquired those skills as an undergraduate or on their own.

Applicants should have a well-developed artistic ability, and should be able to draw with a high degree of realism. When we evaluate a portfolio, we are primarily looking for the following: an ability to draw convincing forms in space, accuracy in terms of proportions and perspective, sophisticated use of color and a confident drawing style. We find that figure drawing provides a good measure of an applicant’s abilities, and so we pay careful attention to that part of the portfolio. Gesture drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture are all fine as long as they help to show an applicant’s abilities. View portfolio samples

Three life drawings, including 2 long poses (60+ minutes) are required. While we do very much prefer drawings of the nude figure, we understand that availability of a model and other considerations may be involved in satisfying this requirement. Life drawing does not need to involve the full figure— portraiture is a strong alternative to the full figure, and partial figure studies can be included as well (torsos, limbs, etc.). Partially- or fully-clothed figure drawings may satisfy the requirement, but please bear in mind that the we will also be considering how well the clothing is drawn in addition to the figure. 

Note: During the 2020-2021 admissions cycle we will accept figure drawings from Zoom or other online drawing sessions. Please note on the drawing if it was from an online source.

In terms of composing an image, capturing proportion and rendering perspective, we want to see what you can do with your own eyes and hands. If you personally take the photograph(s), we will accept works based on your own photos. However, please do not submit artwork based on photographs, videos, or artwork created by others. 

Yes— Please do not to include medical subject matter in the application portfolio unless it is drawn as fine art (e.g., bones in a still-life). Contrary to popular belief, we DO NOT like to see flat, hyper-detailed, over-rendered work. Detail is fine, but only if the forms are well developed first.

We value most the pieces you select and include to meet our portfolio requirements. Extra pieces are not necessary. Please bear in mind that quantity does not make up for a lack of quality. If, however, a few additional pieces show other outstanding skills and abilities, you may include them.

They are both important in the admission process. We won't consider an applicant for admission unless they have at least a 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) in the required science courses and satisfactory GRE scores. We then evaluate and rate the preliminary portfolios on a competitive basis, and invite the top candidates for a personal interview. This gives us an opportunity to evaluate the applicants' interpersonal communication skills, which are important when deciding who will be accepted for admission.

It is considered to be quite competitive, but certainly not out of reach for someone who has well-developed artistic skills combined with an aptitude for the biological sciences. We typically receive 35 to 65 applications per year. From among the pool of completed applications, the Admissions Committee selects those which demonstrate the highest level of artistic talent and scientific aptitude and invites them to our campus for a personal interview. The Admissions Committee then selects up to 9 students per year from this group for admission. From time to time a selectee will not be able to attend, so we also choose several alternates.

For additional information on the application and admission process, please visit the Admissions page within this website.