The Ph.D. in Oral Health Research prepares students for research-oriented careers as independent scientists in academia, government and industry. The curriculum is specifically designed to provide a strong foundation in biochemistry, molecular biology and oral biology. Students will select a research project from one of three main areas of focus:
- Cancer and developmental biology of the head and neck
- Infection and immunology in diseases of the head and neck
- Tissue engineering, stem cells and new materials for the orofacial region
These areas correspond to the critical areas identified by the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research. The program emphasizes independent research culminating in the conduct of an original research project under the supervision of a faculty adviser. Participating faculty are associated not only with programs and departments within the Philips Institute for Oral Health Research within the School of Dentistry, but also the VCU Massey Cancer Center and VCU’s College of Engineering.
Ph.D. students are expected to enroll as full-time graduate students. During the first year, students pursue research rotations, take formal course work and become familiar with current research topics through seminars, discussion groups and lectures by distinguished scientists. By the end of the first year, students choose a faculty adviser and begin dissertation research. Following completion of the research project and defense of the doctoral dissertation, graduates will have acquired the necessary methods, techniques and critical-thinking skills to become the next generation of scientific leaders.
Student learning outcomes
- Graduates will have acquired fundamental knowledge of oral health research and strength in cutting-edge research that crosses disciplines and fosters the ability of the students to view oral health research questions from a broad perspective.
- Graduates will have an understanding of the structure, function and development of tissues of the oral and craniofacial region.
- Graduates will be able to evaluate molecular mechanisms associated with head and neck cancer and design research programs to improve treatment.
- Graduates will be able to evaluate infectious and immune diseases of the head and neck and design research programs to improve treatment.
- Graduates will be able to evaluate the use of bioengineering for diseases of the head and neck and design research programs to improve treatment.
- Graduates will have developed strong practical foundations on which to build research careers.
VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs
The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.
It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.
Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.
Degree candidacy requirements
A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.
Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.
Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.
As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.
Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.
Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.