The students enrolled in the Medical and Biological Illustration graduate program represent an even split between biology/pre-med majors and fine art majors. We evaluate art preparation on the portfolio, not grades. We evaluate science achievement by the student’s transcript, considering the final grade and the level and rigorousness of each course. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is optional.

Our students take some medical school courses with the Johns Hopkins medical students and are held to the same high standards for testing and lab performance. We need to be sure our applicants are qualified to pass these challenging courses as well as to perform rigorous thesis investigations in order to receive their Master of Arts degree from this institution. We screen applicants very carefully for excellent preparation and grades in undergraduate science coursework, to set them up for success at the graduate level.

  • An Undergraduate Degree (B.A., B.S. or B.F.A.) demonstrating high academic achievement.
  • Exemplary Science Preparation (comparable to pre-med) is required of all applicants with one semester in each of the following courses:
    :: General Chemistry :: at a level for science majors,
    :: Vertebrate Anatomy :: * with mammalian (cat) dissection lab,
    :: Vertebrate Physiology :: * including organ systems,
    :: Upper-Level Biological Science :: At least one of the following five specific advanced sciences: Cell Biology, Developmental Biology (Embryology), Histology, Molecular Biology, or Immunology.

*A two semester course in Human Anatomy and Physiology may be substituted for both courses

  • A Strong Art Portfolio demonstrating ability to realistically render observed subject matter in the following:
    :: Drawing :: Realistic drawings created from direct observation expressing form in space, light on form, and a variety of surface textures. Examples should demonstrate skilled draftsmanship, ability to render detail, and should include still-life arrangements and animal and plant studies.
    :: Figure Drawing :: Advanced studies of the human figure drawn directly from the model. Examples should include both long and short poses and may be rendered in a variety of media.
    :: Graphic Design :: Layouts that integrate image and typography for a pre-selected format and audience. Client-oriented visual communication projects.
    :: Color Media :: An accomplished use of transparent watercolor, opaque paint media, and colored pencil should be included. Landscape and still-life subject matter rendered in a representational manner should demonstrate accurately matched colors creating form and depth.
    :: Digital Media :: A competency in use of digital media (for example, experience with raster, vector, 2D or 3D applications).
  • Excellent Written and Verbal Communication Skills with at least one course in English composition.

Portfolio Guidelines – What to include in your portfolio:

The Admissions Committee is looking for excellent draftsmanship, good sense of realistic proportions, understanding light on form, ability to render various textures convincingly and ability to focus the viewer’s eye within a drawing. Realistic rendering of observed subject matter including life drawing, still life, landscape and portraits is encouraged.

:: 20 samples of artwork
:: Examples of all 5 required art categories: General Drawing, Figure Drawing, Graphic Design, Color Media, and Digital Media. (See Prerequisites or PDF Brochure)
:: A minimum of 5 figure studies.
:: A minimum of 2 digital media pieces (graphic design, illustration, or animation).
:: A maximum of 2 examples of art outside the required categories which may include: Sculpture, Fine Art Prints, Multimedia Presentations, or Photography.***
:: Medical or Anatomical subject matter should not be included. (See FAQs)
:: Only properly identified artwork will be reviewed.

***Categories of art not helpful to the Committee in predicting how successful a student will be in this career include: images drawn exclusively from photographic reference, abstract or non-representational art, collage, fantasy drawings, photography, non-representational sculpture, and functional art (fiber arts, pottery, etc). It is acceptable to include one or two examples in your portfolio to round out your presentation as an artist; however, these should not dominate your portfolio nor should they be substituted for the required categories such as life drawing.

When uploading your artwork, you will be asked to identify the following:
:: Title
:: Description
:: Medium / Software
:: Original size
:: Date of completion
:: Source – direct observation, photo reference, or both

Please submit images of the 20 samples of your artwork at a high resolution. A safe guideline is to make the largest dimension 1024 px.

The Portfolio may include:
:: Images (max 5MB each): .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif, .tif, .tiff, .bmp, or .tga
:: Videos (max 60MB): .m4v, .mov, .mp4, .wmv, .flv, .asf, .mpeg, .mpg, .mkv
:: Documents (max 10MB): .pdf
:: Other formats (max 10MB): .zip, .psd, etc.
:: Linked Media: Vimeo or YouTube

Note: the Admissions Committee is interested in viewing artistic details and subtleties of your artwork. Therefore, you may wish to include an additional detail image of selected Portfolio art to enhance your submission. No more than 4 total detail images may be uploaded. Please make certain the detail files are of sufficient resolution, not simply re-sampled enlargements of the original.

Begin your SlideRoom Portfolio & Applicant Profile

Use the above link to submit a digital Portfolio along with an Applicant Profile beginning November 1st
The deadline is January 15th for enrollment the following August.


View Sample Portfolio


Application Process

A class of seven students is selected each year to matriculate in early August. The Application process occurs in two steps.

Step One – Portfolio & Applicant Profile

After reading the specific prerequisites and portfolio guidelines, interested candidates use the link below to submit a 20-image Portfolio and to complete an Applicant Profile form between November 1st and January 15th of the admission year. There is a $10 fee to submit the online Portfolio/Profile.
The last day to submit is January 15th.
Link to submit your Portfolio and complete the Applicant Profile:

Step Two – Application & Interview

Following the January 15th Portfolio/Profile due date, the Admissions Committee will notify all candidates who qualify for final consideration, will provide access to the online application web site, and will invite them for interview to review the original art from their portfolio. Only those applicants invited to continue should submit the application.

On the interview day, candidates interview privately with the Program Director and also with the faculty of the Admissions Committee. During these two interviews, portfolio originals are spread throughout a conference room in a mini-gallery. As a group, candidates will also tour the Department and medical campus, meet informally with off-site faculty, and have lunch with the current students.

Due dates for the application and supporting documents are provided at the time the interview date is set and are no less than three days prior to the interview date. Detailed information about the application is included in the online application instructions. The following supporting documents are requested with the application:

  1. Three letters of recommendation. At least one from a science instructor and one from an art instructor.
  2. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.*
  3. Statement of interest in the program.
  4. Application fee.

Candidates may be asked to bring additional artwork. All candidates are asked to bring a sketchbook, if they keep one, to share with the Committee.

Final admission status notification to all applicants is provided no later than April 15th.

*Transcripts are considered official only when mailed directly or electronically delivered from the administration at one school to an office or department at another school. Transcripts issued to students are not considered official.

Have a question?

Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page. Your answer might be there.

Still not sure? Use our Request Information page to start a dialog with an admissions counselor.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition for Academic Year 2015-2016 is $48,750/year.

Substantial Department scholarship funds provide tuition support to all students. Additional financial aid, awarded on the base of need, consists of Department and University loan funds as well as loans from outside lenders (under US Federal loan programs). Students are encouraged to apply for graduate student loan support. The Financial Aid Office of the Medical School certifies the eligibility of students for US Federal loan programs.

Financial considerations are confidential and individually determined, and do not influence admissions decisions.

While enrolled in the program, all students, their spouses and dependent children, are required to have health insurance that meets minimum standards established by the School of Medicine. A Student Health Plan is available through Hopkins.

School of Medicine Financial Aid (410) 955-1324
School of Medicine Financial Affairs (410) 955-3216

Scholarships and Endowments


  • The W. B. Saunders Company Fellowship in Art as Applied to Medicine This fellowship was established in 1964 in honor of Lawrence Saunders upon his retirement after 50 years of distinguished leadership in medical publishing.
  • The William P. Didusch Scholarship and Loan Fund An endowment for student tuition support in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine was established in 1973 with a generous gift from Mr. Didusch. A significant contribution was added to this Fund from the estate of Bertha M. Trott whose death in 1973 ended a life filled with dedication and service to urologists at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere. Memorial contributions from friends and colleagues have been added to this Fund since the death of William P. Didusch in 1981.
  • The Kathleen Mackay Powell Memorial Fund An endowment to assist and benefit students in the field of medical illustration given in memory of Kathleen Mackay Powell who studied in the department (1930-31) under Max Brödel.
  • The Elinor Widmont Bodian Scholarship in Medical Art This scholarship fund was established in 2000 by Mrs. Bodian and her family to provide financial assistance to students in Medical Illustration.
  • The Leon Schlossberg Scholarship Fund This scholarship was established in 1999 in memory of Leon Schlossberg’s lifetime association as a medical illustrator for the Department of Surgery and faculty member in Art as Applied to Medicine.
  • The Chester Reather Scholarship in Art as Applied to Medicine An endowment established in Art as Applied to Medicine in honor of Chester Reather’s distinguished career as a medical photographer and research associate at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. This fund is used to reward a graduate student with a scholarship for innovative research and creative use of new imaging technology.
  • The Frank H. Netter, M.D. Memorial Scholarship in Medical Art Frank H. Netter, M.D. is known world-wide as a medical illustrator who could distill complex medical subject matter into clear, effective teaching images. Dr. Netter was not only a skilled draftsman, but knowledgeable in anatomy, physiology, and pathology through his medical training. Family and friends established this scholarship to recognize a student in Art as Applied to Medicine who displays a similar balance of medical and scientific knowledge with the artistic skills that he exhibited throughout his career. Winners of this award have excelled in their academic courses; displayed exceptional art expression; and most importantly utilized both resources to create well designed and effective didactic illustrations. 2015 Recipient: Laura Roy.
  • The Gwynne M. Gloege Scholarship Fund in Medical Art This scholarship fund was established in 2004 by Gwynne Gloege (JHU ’56) to provide financial assistance to medical art students. Financial aid and scholarships are awarded to students within the program based on financial need and academic performance.

Awards, Lectureship, and Support

  • The Annette S. Burgess Award The alumni of the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine contribute funds each year which provide for an annual award given to the student whose ophthalmological illustration is outstanding.
  • The Ranice W. Crosby Distinguished Achievement Award Through the generosity of alumni, colleagues, and friends, a medallion honoring Ranice W. Crosby, Director of Art as Applied to Medicine from 1943 to 1983, is awarded for scholarly contributions to the advancement of art as applied to the medical sciences. The recipient is selected by a committee at intervals of from one to three years. 2015 Recipient: Philippe Gailloud.
  • The Samson Feldman Visiting Scholar in Art as Applied to Medicine Rossetta A. and Sadie B. Feldman, sisters of Samson Feldman, established a visiting lectureship to honor his life as an artist and lifelong patron of the arts. Lecturers are selected from distinguished scholars in visual communications with the purpose of presenting contemporary views pertaining to medical art. The selection of lecturers are made by a committee representing the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine.
  • The James M. and Carolyn H. Phelps Fund Support for the preservation and care of the Max Brödel Archives. This fund was established in memory of their parents by the Phelps family.