UC Berkeley or UC Santa Barbara best for this career

I am an uncommitted undergraduate, torn between these two schools. Would a more prestigious/rigorous education in science at Berkeley help me transfer to John Hopkins or a similar good program for their Scientific/Medical Illustration courses? Or would I just be doing extra work? Both of their art programs seem okay, although I did not have this career in mind when I applied. I am majoring in Biology for each school (Genetics, Genomics and Development for Berkeley; not sure if I should change it) and want to minor in art. I'm not dead set on what I want to be in the future, but my plans have always involved either science OR art and this path seems like the perfect best of both worlds. My friends keep telling me that this job won't be needed in the future, it's not in demand, and is just a dead end, but I can't think of any other career that encompasses my interests so fully. I want to be hopeful!

Hi Emily,

Have you visited the Association of Medical Illustrators official website (ami.org )?  There is a lot of info there about the profession.  From where I stand, MI is growing exponentially, and there is plenty for all to do.  The exciting thing is the diversity of niches that abound, from the expected (surgical, medical, patient information, book and academic illustration) to the amazingly innovative (Virtual Reality, Molecular / subcellular, Pharmaceutical, Games for Health, etc.).  We are in the midst of a visual revolution, where the graphical is achieving its deserved ascendency for communicating complex scientific concepts. It spans language barriers and makes ideas truly global.  Data Visualization is growing, and is a really interesting area. The skillsets you develop are very much needed, and you can write your own ticket if you think outside the box, and find new ways of sharing science information with your audiences.  

Santa Barbara might be a good bet as a school (full disclosure--my dad was on faculty in the art dept. there!).  But Berkeley would be great, too, because we have a good regional network of MIs here that can help you in your quest, and great community resources for science-oriented folks.  Other paths for the art side are private lessons--there are atelier-style art schools in the SF Bay Area to supplement your drawing/visualization skills. And, of course there is the Science Illustration curriculum at CSUMB.

Having a very solid science background is absolutely critical to acceptance into a MI program these days--it sounds as though you are on a good path.