PhD Program

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The PhD in Oral Biology is a research degree that emphasizes basic science research. It includes a dissertation project, a major part of the student’s program.

The four-year PhD in Oral Biology encourages students to focus in one of five areas: biomaterials and biomechanics, epithelial biology and carcinogenesis, microbiology and immunology, sensory neuroscience or bone biology, craniofacial development and tissue engineering. 

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.

Program at a Glance

Degree offered

Joining the Program

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We welcome a diverse pool of applicants, including international students. 

Applications are submitted online through the University’s Graduate School. Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree or a DDS/DMD or equivalent. 

Applicants should submit an essay of two pages describing their specific research aspirations, as well as a personal statement and a diversity statement. PhD applications are due December 1 for the program beginning the following fall. 

Applications must be completed online and should include a personal statement, a research essay, a diversity statement, CV or resume, proof of English language proficiency, letters of recommendation and transcripts. 

Application Instructions

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Program Requirements

Subject Description
Test scores GRE is not required.
Transcripts Unofficial transcripts required.
CV/Resume Applicants must submit their resume or CV.
Supplemental application No supplemental application is required.
Dental licensing N/A
Degree Must hold a bachelor's degree or equivalent, or a DDS/DMD degree or equivalent.
Additional requirements Applicants must submit a personal statement, research essay, diversity statement and three letters of recommendation. Application Instructions
International applicants We welcome international applicants. Please see our website for resources on studying at the University of Minnesota as an international student. International students may need to submit TOEFL or IELTS. Strong applicants will have TOEFL scores well above 90.


The first year of the PhD program consists primarily of coursework. Students select courses with their advisor's approval from a core curriculum recommended by the Graduate Faculty for each area and their minor program. 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. 

In the second year, students complete all coursework and the written and oral preliminary exams. The written and oral exams capture the student’s ability to think critically about the field and the application of logical experimental designs to test hypotheses and answer questions. Upon completion of this two-part preliminary examination of the research proposal, the student will work largely on the dissertation research project through month 45 in residence.

Months 45 through 48 will be used for dissertation writing. Students must also present a public seminar describing their dissertation 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.