The PhD in Oral Biology is primarily a research degree and the thesis research constitutes a major part of the student’s program.
The program is designed to ensure that graduates will develop the capability to initiate independent research programs in important areas of oral biology. Most students execute projects that advance mechanistic understanding. Clinical studies, or studies involving adaptation of existing technologies to a dental problem, are not regarded as appropriate projects in this program.
The PhD in Oral Biology is designed as a 4-year program. Students are encouraged to focus in one of five areas of emphasis: biomaterials and biomechanics, epithelial biology and carcinogenesis, microbiology and immunology, sensory neuroscience, and bone biology, craniofacial development, and tissue engineering. An exceptional student can create his/her own area of emphasis or specialize in topics not listed here; students should discuss their interests with the Director of Graduate Studies before applying.
The first year of the PhD program consists primarily of a core curriculum recommended by the Graduate Faculty for each area. The core curriculum provides students with a working knowledge of the major concepts and research paradigms in that scientific area, a working vocabulary, and the basis for continued learning. During the first year, the graduate student also selects a laboratory, a research advisor and a cutting-edge research problem for investigation and thesis preparation.
During months 13 through 15 in residence, the student writes a major research thesis proposal, which will be defended in writing by month 16. The written and oral exams must capture the student’s ability to think critically about the field and the application of logical experimental designs to test hypotheses and answer questions.
During month 18, students present a brief research seminar consisting of the plan for thesis research and preliminary data to evaluate the promise of success in the lab.
Upon completion of this two-part preliminary examination of the thesis proposal, the student will work largely on thesis research through month 45 in residence.
Months 45 through 48 will be used for dissertation writing. Students must also present a public seminar describing their thesis research (which is attended by the final oral exam committee) no later than six months before defense of the thesis. The dissertation will be defended in another public seminar in month 48.
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