Oral Biology Graduate Program Overview


The Department of Oral Biology has created a new graduate program in Oral Biology for post-baccalaureate students, First Professional dental students, and dental residents with an interest in Oral Health research and pursuing academic careers. The graduate study in Oral Biology will cover a wide range of topics at the molecular, cellular, organismic, and clinical levels. The program will offer a

  • Doctor of Philosophy degree in Oral Biology, or a
  • Master of Science degree in Oral Biology.

The two specialty tracks for both the PhD and MS degree programs will focus academic activities around two particular research strengths:

Both paths of study are embedded in a context of Oral Biology and Oral Health training with broad theoretical and interdisciplinary scopes.

Admissions will only be considered for the following fall term. However, early applications are encouraged, and offers may be extended to suitably qualified candidates before the application deadline. All interested students will apply for admission to the program by submitting their paper application materials for admission to Ms. Lynn M. Marendo, Graduate Administrator by January 15. Three to six students will be matriculated in both the MS or PhD programs per year.

Admission requirements to the Oral Biology Graduate Program:

  • baccalaureate degree in a natural or physical science or engineering program;
  • minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a scale of 4) or its equivalent from an accredited institution;
  • scores (less than 5 years old) from the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE). (Institution code 0231); and,
  • minimum of three letters of recommendation. (Letters from faculty familiar with the applicant's research accomplishments are of particular value to the evaluation process.)

Applicants who are citizens of countries where English is not the official language (and the Province of Quebec in Canada) are required to submit evidence of:

  • English language proficiency by submitting the official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

A minimum result of 600 (paper), 100 (iBT TOEFL), or a minimum result of 7.0 (IELTS) is required for admission to the program. Scores must be less than two years old.

TOEFL scores can be submitted to the department by using Institution Code 2408. International students admitted to the program with a TOEFL of below 600 (paper test), or below 250 (computer test), or below 100 (iBT), or below a Band 7.0 on the IELTS, must take an additional test (the "Michigan" test) as part of registration. IELTS results certificates are to be sent directly to the Oral Biology Graduate Studies Office.

Applicants who have earned a bachelor's degree or a higher degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States are exempt from submitting English language proficiency test results.

PhD Program in Oral Biology
The PhD program requires approximately four to five years to finish, and is completely separate from the MS program. That is, students may enter the PhD program directly following their undergraduate degree, and do not necessarily have to earn a master's degree first (although earning a master's degree can be incorporated into the PhD program without increasing the total length of time needed).

Students who have already earned a master's degree elsewhere can often receive Advanced Standing and credit for previous coursework, which may shorten the time needed to earn a PhD by as much as a year.

View the PhD Curriculum

Requirements for the PhD Degree

  • total of 72 credits of coursework (50 didactic and 22 in research);
  • preliminary examination after the third semester;
  • scientific ethics/fundamentals of research course;
  • quantitative methods and design course(s) (two for students in the Craniofacial Genetics Tract);
  • written comprehensive examination after the sixth semester(for advancement to PhD candidacy);
  • dissertation proposal defense;
  • approval of a Dissertation Committee and dissertation research; and,
  • dissertation defense.

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in required courses to be eligible to take the preliminary and comprehensive examinations, as well as to graduate.

MS Program in Oral Biology
The MS Program requires about two years (but no longer than 4 years) to complete. It is completely separate from the PhD Program but MS students may apply and be accepted for the PhD program once they are in the MS program. If the student is accepted into the PhD program at a later date, courses taken toward the MS will satisfy doctoral degree credit and residency requirements.

View the MS Curriculum

Requirements for the MS Degree

  • total of 30 credits (25 didactic and 5 in research);
  • preliminary examination after the 3rd semester;
  • scientific Ethics/Fundamentals of Research course;
  • quantitative methods and design course(s);
  • a one-year research project leading to an MS thesis;
  • defense of the MS Thesis before a thesis committee research; and,
  • a Master’s Thesis.

Students must successfully complete the first-year required curriculum and receive a B or better in all required courses.

Preliminary Examination
The preliminary examination requirement for the PhD degree will involve successfully passing a written examination to test the student's understanding and breadth of basic principles of Oral Biology and basic science. Students must pass all questions to have successfully completed the Preliminary Examination.

A student with an MS from another institution may petition the Graduate Studies Committee to waive the preliminary examination.

Any questions regarding this procedure, or students wishing to apply via paper applications, should contact the Oral Biology Graduate Studies Administrator:

Ms. Lynn M. Marendo
Department of Oral Biology
University of Pittsburgh
3501 Terrace Street
347 Salk Hall
Pittsburgh, PA  15261