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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 23, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences

The School of Dental Medicine Department of Oral Biology Graduate Program offers basic, translational, and clinical studies in oral biology, biomedical research and health that span spatial scales from the molecular and cellular levels to the whole organism level. Studies include fundamental biological phenomena related to the development, structure, and function of the craniofacial region and the development of new therapies, biomaterials, and diagnostic tools for the treatment of diseases and disorders in the craniofacial area. The Graduate Program provides a stimulating and collegial environment to prepare motivated and qualified students for careers in academia, industry, and government.

Students may earn Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Science (MS) degrees in Oral Biology within one of two research concentrations:

  •     Craniofacial and Dental Genetics
  •     Craniofacial Tissue Regeneration

Students will work with faculty in the Department of Oral Biology on research in these concentrations.

The program is open to post-baccalaureate students, pre-doctoral dental students, and dental residents. School of Dental Medicine pre-doctoral students and residents may apply for a dual degree option with the PhD or MS Graduate Programs in Oral Biology. Pre-doctoral dental medicine students may also pursue dual degrees while enrolled in the School of Dental Medicine through collaborative programs with the School of Public Health, the School of Law, and the School of Education.

Admissions will only be considered for the fall term. However, early applications are encouraged, and offers may be extended to suitably qualified candidates before the application deadline. 

To read detailed information abou tthe program options as well as how to apply, please visit

About the School

Established in 1896, the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine has been educating students to take their places among the best dental practitioners, researchers and educators in our region, across the country, and even around the world. We are one of six Schools of Health Sciences at the University and are the only school to manage our own clinic. Our accomplishments reflect the dedication and success of each member of the School of Dental Medicine family. 

We are proud of our long tradition as innovators in dental medicine. Our first female student was admitted 117 years ago, and today more than half of our vibrant and diverse first-year pre-doctoral class are women. We nurture in our students a strong foundation in the biological, behavioral and clinical sciences 
and a belief in the importance of professionalism and life-long learning.
Half a century ago we pioneered the specialty dental care that we now deliver in our fully equipped Center for Patients with Special Needs. The School’s general dental clinics and 11 specialty clinics play an integral role in improving the oral health of the patient population of southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond. Some patients travel hundreds of miles to access the high-quality care our clinics provide every day.

Our researchers expand the horizons of knowledge and are internationally renowned for their groundbreaking developments in the areas of craniofacial genetics and craniofacial regeneration. We are identifying genes that contribute to complex human phenotypes, and are using tissue engineering to heal wounds and restore function and appearance to defects of the face and skull.
Every day, the positive contributions of our faculty, staff, residents and students-the Pitt Dental Medicine family-demonstrate their commitment to our mission of advancing the future of dental medicine through teaching, research and service.

Degree Programs

Along with several specialized degree programs, degrees offered at the School of Dental Medicine include the doctor of dental medicine (DMD); doctor of philosophy (PhD); master of science (MS); master of public health (MPH) offered in conjunction with the School of Public Health; and bachelor of science (BS).

The four-year doctor of Predoctoral (DMD) Program   prepares students to provide comprehensive care to a diverse patient population. The competency-based curriculum emphasizes health promotion and disease prevention, and prepares students to provide individualized treatments using the best scientific evidence available. Graduates are equipped to practice as independent, entry-level general practitioners. 

The Advanced Standing (DMD) Program   places qualified graduates of foreign dental schools as third-year dental students. These students are integrated into the program and complete the third- and fourth-years of the pre doctoral curriculum with the rest of the class. 

In collaboration with Pitt Public Health, the four-year DMD/MPH in dental public health offers customizable course selection with a special emphasis on oral health-specific public health issues. 

The University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine’s Dental Hygiene Program provides students a unique academic environment where they can earn either an Associate of Science or a Bachelors Degree in Dental Hygiene.   The intreprofessional educational experiences within the school’s specialty dental clinics and the University-based hospitals, in conjunction with didactic, community outreach, and research activities, affords the delivery of high-quality education.

Research Strengths

Research efforts include dental and craniofacial genetics, craniofacial anomalies, caries, periodontal disease, pharmacology, pain control, tissue engineering, craniofacial regeneration, educational research, informatics, and implantology.
The School of Dental Medicine is undertaking investigations to identify genes that contribute to complex human phenotypes, primarily those involved in dental and craniofacial disorders, including behavioral and epidemiological factors. New territory is being charted to develop the first-known collection of DNA samples paired with anonymized dental records to support genetics research. 
Tissue engineering-based approaches are being developed to treat complex multi-structural wounds and defects of the face and skull in a way that restores both function and appearance. The school is at the forefront of research to develop relevant translational treatment solutions usable by practicing dentists. 
The School of Dental Medicine is identifying factors that lead to oral health disparities in children and families in Appalachia. Oral public health research leads to improved interventions, understanding, and advancements for the future of oral health education and treatment.



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