Program details

Iowa State University’s interdepartmental undergraduate major in Scientific Illustration and Visualization (formerly Biological and Pre-Medical Illustration) is a shared program of the Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) and the College of Design. The program is housed in LAS and is administered by an advisory board of faculty members from both colleges.

The SciViz major is designed for students who want to combine their interests and aptitudes in science and art. Students take a mix of courses concentrated on the natural sciences in LAS and studio art in design. They learn the latest artistic techniques, visual design skills, and the business of being a visual communicator. They become proficient in producing a broad range of artwork, including drawings, paintings and photographs, which are scientifically accurate and aesthetically pleasing. Award-winning faculty members with years of professional and academic experience and an advisory board of scientists and artists help direct, advise and mentor students through their academic careers.

Iowa State University has one of the longest-running undergraduate programs of this type in the nation. Fewer than a dozen similar programs or opportunities exist for undergraduate studies in the U.S. The Iowa State Scientific Illustration and Visualization program specializes in preparing students for graduate degree programs in medical and scientific illustration. Graduate schools often recommend students receive a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State because of the strength of the combined science and art components of our program.


The Bachelor of Arts in Scientific Illustration and Visualization is a four-year degree that prepares students for careers in biological illustration or graduate education in medical illustration. BPMI majors do not need to complete the Core Design Program in the College of Design.

Students attending Iowa State University to study SciViz enroll as pre-SciVizmajors through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students must apply for admission as full members of the SciViz program, typically in their second year of study. The application includes submission of a portfolio, an essay, and a degree audit; applications are reviewed once each semester by the Advisory Committee.

Recent Student Work

The College of Design offers or participates in eight undergraduate minors that are available to all undergraduate design students. In addition, many minors throughout the university can be combined with a design degree program.

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Success in design

Students in the College of Design graduate career-ready with internships, capstone projects, professional practice, and portfolio classes integrated into each of the design programs, and with support from the Design Career Services Office. The College of Design also hosts an annual Design Career Fair that is focused only on design majors. It attracts more than 125 firms recruiting for jobs and internships, with College of Design alumni making up more than half of the recruiters in attendance.

College of Design student working on class project.

A Cyclone in the Making

Find your place at Iowa State University’s College of Design, where we like to ask questions, poke and prod, create something new, and make a difference through design.