This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

The Ph.D. in Oral Health Research with a concentration in infection and immunology 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 microbiology. Students will develop an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of microbial disease initiation and progression with the goal of developing new approaches to prevent and treat oral and systemic diseases caused by the oral microbiome. 

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 with the Philips Institute for Oral Health Research and the School of Medicine.  

Ph.D. students are expected to enroll as full-time graduate students in the core Ph.D. program. 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, select their concentration 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 infectious and immune 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.

Graduation 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.