Oral Health Sciences

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 83 k / Year(s) Deadline: Dec 5, 2023
22 place StudyQA ranking:3055 Duration:

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The program in Oral Health Sciences leading to the degree Doctor of Philosophy is designed for students who enter the program with a D.D.S. degree or its equivalent. This program is most appropriate for advanced students who aspire to join the faculty of an outstanding dental school. Many of the students are admitted with DDS and MS completed degrees. Applicants must fulfill all requirements of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, take the Graduate Record Examination General Test, and submit three letters of recommendation. Funding is available on a competitive review basis.

Major areas of study include craniofacial development; mineralized tissue biology & musculoskeletal disorders; oral infectious & immunologic diseases; oral & pharyngeal cancer; oral sensory systems & central circuits; and tissue engineering & regeneration. The curriculum is designed for each student by the doctoral program committee, and includes a series of core courses followed by advanced courses within the School of Dentistry and other schools and colleges of the University.

The curriculum for the PhD in Oral Health Sciences has seven main components: oral health sciences core requirements; graduate core courses; basic science courses; advanced courses; cognate courses; the preliminary examination; and, dissertation research. The specific curriculum for each student is designed with the student's academic advisor, in consultation with the OHS Program Committee. Generally OHS students take the preliminary examination and advance to candidacy at the end of the second year in the Program. The OHS PhD and DDS/PhD students should demonstrate readiness to undertake independent dissertation research by achieving candidacy at the end of their second year but no later than three years after the first enrollment in their doctoral program.


  • Oral Health Sciences Seminar Series and Journal Club - ORALHEAL 811
  • Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship
  • Biostatistics
  • Research Rotations - ORALHEAL 812 


To provide breadth in the oral health sciences, for content and for scientific approaches, each student will select two graduate courses from the School of Dentistry, Medical School or School of Public Health. School of Dentistry OHS course options include Neural Basis of Oral and Facial Function (ORALHEAL 602); Craniofacial Development and Growth (ORALHEAL 603); Mineralized Tissues (ORALHEAL 606); Molecular Biology in Clinical Dentistry (ORALHEAL 612); - Additional graduate course options include Business of Biology: The New Frontiers of Genomic Medicine (BIOMEDE 523), Signal Transduction (BIOLCHEM 591) and Advances in Tissue Engineering (BIOMEDE 584)


Each student will take 6 credits in graduate courses in Cellular and Molecular Biology (DENT525 & ORALHEAL 625), Macromolecular Structure and Function (BIOCHEM 550), Histology (CDB 550), Integrative Genomics (PHYSIOL 555), Dev Genetics (CDB 581), Stem Cells Regen Bio (CDB 582/583), and Cell Biology (CDB 682). In addition, students can elect an additional 2 to 3 credits in courses such as Mechanisms of Eukaryotic Gene Expression (BIOCHEM 650), Genetics (CMBIOL 630), Molecular Genetics (HUMGEN 541), Molecular Basis HG Diseases (HUMGEN 542), Molecular and Cellular Immunology (MICRBIOL 640), Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics (BIOMEDE 556), or Quantitative Physiology (BIOMEDE 519).


Advanced science courses will be taken in the student's area of specialization. These courses are selected to provide in-depth, current knowledge in the content area of the student’s probable dissertation research, or to provide increased knowledge about modern approaches in the design, conduct and analysis of basic or clinical science. Examples may include Medical Imaging Lab (BIOMEDE 510), Cancer Biology (CANCBIO 553), Cancer Pathogenesis & Treatment (CANCBIO 554), Principle of Neuroscience I&II (NEURO 601 & 602); Statistical Methods for Biomedical Engineering (BIOMEDE 503), Biological Macro- and Nanotechnology (BIOMEDE 561), Introduction to Bioinformatics & Computational Biology (BIOINF 527), Medical Genetics I& II (HUMGEN 650 & 651), etc.


A minimum of 3 hours of graduate level course work must be completed in cognate courses. Cognate courses are in fields other than the student's field of specialization, and must be approved by the student's advisor. A course introducing the essential scientific communication skills, PHARMACOL 502, can be considered a cognate course.


The Preliminary Examination is designed to evaluate the student’s: knowledge of scientific areas within the oral health sciences; ability to integrate and synthesize knowledge across areas within oral health maintenance and treatment of oral diseases; and ability to think analytically in written and oral communications. The examination is a major component used in making a recommendation about the student’s readiness for advancement to candidacy. The written examination is a research proposal in the NIH R01 grant application style. The oral examination is a presentation of the research proposal to the Preliminary Examination Committee followed by discussion of the proposal. Thus, the examination models several aspects of an academic career in science, including: reading, analyzing and synthesizing the literature; generating hypotheses and original questions; writing research grants; and, presenting ideas to colleagues in a clear and concise format.


After a student has successfully completed all required courses, identified and accepted into a dissertation lab, passed the Preliminary Examination, and advanced to Candidacy for the degree in Oral Health Sciences, the remaining curriculum is original dissertation research in the laboratory of the Dissertation Advisor, with the direction of a Dissertation Committee.

Admission will be based on review of the total application, including the following criteria:

  • grade point average and academic record
  • research experience
  • personal statement 
  • Graduate Record Examination, General Test
  • three letters of recommendation  
  • interest of student in research foci of the OHS Program, as expressed in a written statement of interest.

The Program is especially interested in qualified candidates who can contribute, through their research, teaching, and/or service, to the diversity and excellence of the academic community.

Foreign students must achieve a minimum score of 560 (or 220 CBT) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or 80 on the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB). However, a re-evaluation of English proficiency will be required before registration.

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