College of Science

Department of Science Illustration


The Science Illustration Certificate Program is offered through the College of Extended Education at California State University, Monterey Bay. Applications open October 1st, 2023 for Fall 2024. Admission to the program is limited to 18 students and is by application only.

Illustration of a Sierra Nevada habitat cutaway block.

Illustration by Andrew Leach


Program requirements

  • Applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in an area of science.
  • Those with a degree in a field other than the sciences are also eligible if their portfolio exhibits keen observational skills, contains subjects applicable to scientific illustration, and if the applicant is able to demonstrate a strong interest in and understanding of science.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate abilities in representational drawing, as well as a developed sense of aesthetics.
  • Applicants are required to include at least two digital illustrations in their portfolios that indicate basic experience with Adobe Creative Suite or equivalent digital illustration programs. An exception is granted for those without digital experience if they attend and pass the two-week Digital Painting summer course at CSUMB.

Important dates

Two rounds of application cycles are offered to prospective students. Please submit your application by the priority application deadline to be considered for early acceptance. Once your priority application has been reviewed, you will be notified as to whether you have been accepted or placed into the second pool of applicants. If you do not wish to be considered for priority evaluation, please submit your application by the final deadline. All applicants will be notified of their admission status sometime in April.

  • October 1st, 2023: Applications open
  • November 30, 2023: Priority application deadline
  • February 16, 2024: Final deadline for Fall 2023 acceptance
  • April 2024: Applicants are notified of their admission status

Parts of the application

  • Submit an online application through Cal State Apply.

  • The non-refundable application fee is $70. Payment is due when you submit an application through Cal State Apply.

  • Please list every college attended on your application form. Include one official transcript from the Registrar of each institution attended (including University correspondence or extension divisions). If your course work is still in-progress, submit an in-progress transcript with your application package. A second official transcript, after all course work has been completed will be required if you are accepted into the program. Transcripts may be sent directly to the program office or directly to you if the institution allows. Each transcript should be submitted in an envelope sealed and signed by the Registrar. If the transcript is received and the envelope is open or it is taken out of the envelope, you will need to submit a new, official transcript.

  • We require three letters of recommendation.

  • This should be a concise, well-written essay about your background and your reasons for pursuing graduate study in science illustration. Selection committees place particular importance on the statement of purpose.

  • A portfolio submission is required and should consist of high quality digital copies of ten to twenty pieces of your artwork. Traditional black-and-white or color media, digital illustration and three-dimensional work will all be considered. Each example should be labeled with a title, medium used, size, and source material. Source material can be 1) from life, 2) from your personal photographs, 3) from published photographs, or 4) a combination/other (please describe).

    Please upload the portfolio in Cal State Apply. Accepted filetypes are Word Doc or PDF.

    When reviewing the portfolio portion of the application, the selection committee looks for attention to detail, accuracy, and aesthetics, as well as presentation of materials.

  • We highly recommend you submit an updated portfolio with at least 3 or more additional images. If your application was submitted 2 years ago or less you may reactivate previous letters of recommendation but official transcripts must be resubmitted. If your previous application was submitted more than two years ago, please complete the full application and submit through Cal State Apply.

  • International Students will be required to submit official versions of your transcripts, foreign credential evaluation report (if required), English language proficiency test (if required) after you submit your application. If you are missing or are not able to upload documents, please continue with your application and email by the priority deadline. Please visit the International Programs website to make sure you meet all the requirements for international students.

    The Documents section in Cal State Apply allows you to upload the following supporting documents:

    • Bank Statements
    • Financial Affidavit (Upload under the Financial Statement option)
    • Copy of Passport
    • English Language Proficiency Test (if required)
    • Foreign Credential Evaluation Report (if required)
  • Email us at

    Call us at (831) 582-4726

Illustration of a frog.

Illustration by Mattias Lanas