Twin Cities campus
Twin Cities Campus

Oral Biology Ph.D.

School of Dentistry - Adm
School of Dentistry
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
School of Dentistry, 17-164 Moos Tower, 515 Delaware Street, S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455 (612-626-4483; fax:612-626-2651)
  • Program Type: Doctorate
  • Requirements for this program are current for Spring 2021
  • Length of program in credits: 55 to 61
  • This program requires summer semesters for timely completion.
  • Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Along with the program-specific requirements listed below, please read the General Information section of this website for requirements that apply to all major fields.
The interdisciplinary graduate program in oral biology is offered by the School of Dentistry with cooperating faculty in the Medical School, College of Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine. It gives students research skills and a broad understanding of the development, structure, function, and pathology of the orofacial region. 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. Curricula are designed to allow considerable flexibility in planning individual programs to accommodate specific areas of interest; courses from other disciplines may be included as part of the major.
Program Delivery
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Prerequisites for Admission
The preferred undergraduate GPA for admittance to the program is 3.00.
Special Application Requirements:
Applicants must submit 1) scores from the General Test of the GRE, 2) three letters of recommendation from persons who can comment authoritatively about the applicant's potential for a research and academic career, 3) a clearly written personal statement (one to two pages) describing career goals, 4) an essay describing research aspirations (one to two pages), and 5) a résumé highlighting research experience and accomplishments. For D.D.S./Ph.D. applicants who are U.S. citizens, resident aliens, or Canadian citizens, U.S. or Canadian Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores at or above the national average will be accepted in lieu of the GRE. Applicants who have graduated from U.S. or Canadian dental or medical schools within three years of their application to the Ph.D. program may request that previous U.S. or Canadian DAT or MCAT scores be considered in lieu of the GRE.
Applicants must submit their test score(s) from the following:
  • GRE
    • General Test - Verbal Reasoning: 153
    • General Test - Quantitative Reasoning: 148
    • General Test - Analytical Writing: 4.0
International applicants must submit score(s) from one of the following tests:
    • Internet Based - Total Score: 90
    • Internet Based - Writing Score: 25
    • Internet Based - Reading Score: 25
    • Total Score: 6.5
The preferred English language test is Test of English as Foreign Language.
Key to test abbreviations (GRE, TOEFL, IELTS).
For an online application or for more information about graduate education admissions, see the General Information section of this website.
Program Requirements
19 to 25 credits are required in the major.
12 credits are required outside the major.
24 thesis credits are required.
This program may be completed with a minor.
Use of 4xxx courses towards program requirements is not permitted.
A minimum GPA of 3.00 is required for students to remain in good standing.
Completion of a minor in a complementary, non-clinical discipline is required.
Program Requirements
Courses may be selected from departments and programs outside oral biology with approval of the advisor and director of graduate studies.
Oral Biology Topics Courses (8 Credits)
Select at least 8 credits from the following list:
OBIO 8012 - Basic Concepts in Skeletal Biology (2.0 cr)
OBIO 8018 - Topics in Oral Pathobiology (2.0 cr)
OBIO 8021 - Oral Microbiology (2.0 cr)
OBIO 8022 - Oral Neuroscience (2.0 cr)
OBIO 8023 - Physical Biology of the Oral Cavity (2.0 cr)
OBIO 8024 - Genetics and Human Disease (1.0 cr)
OBIO 8025 - Topics in Cariology (2.0 cr)
OBIO 8026 - Salivary Glands and Secretions (2.0 cr)
OBIO 8027 - Biomaterials in Regenerative Dentistry (2.0 cr)
OBIO 8028 - Molecular Basis of Cellular and Microbial Adhesion (2.0 cr)
OBIO 8371 - Mucosal Immunobiology (3.0 cr)
Oral Biology Seminar (8 Credits)
Take the following seminar eight times for a total of 8 credits:
OBIO 8030 - Oral Biology Seminar (1.0 cr)
Statistics Course (3 Credits)
Take at least one course from the following list:
STAT 5021 - Statistical Analysis (4.0 cr)
PUBH 6450 - Biostatistics I (4.0 cr)
PUBH 7445 - Statistics for Human Genetics and Molecular Biology (3.0 cr)
Required Minor (12 Credits)
Students must complete a non-clinical minor in the basic sciences or public health. At least 12 minor field credits are required. Confer with the director of graduate studies for the minor field to determine additional requirements.
Thesis Credits (24 Credits)
Take at least 24 doctoral thesis credits.
OBIO 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral (1.0-24.0 cr)
Joint- or Dual-degree Coursework:
Doctor of Dental Surgery DDS/Oral Biology PhD
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OBIO 8012 - Basic Concepts in Skeletal Biology
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Cells (osteoblasts, osteoclasts, chrondrocytes) that make up skeleton. Transcription/signaling networks that regulate cell growth/differentiation. Mechanisms of bone remodeling. Regulation of bone by such agents such as hormones. Prereq Grad student or instr consent.
OBIO 8018 - Topics in Oral Pathobiology
Credits: 2.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Clinical understanding of oral disease. Correlates about underlying basic mechanisms in microbiology, immunology, cancer biology, developmental biology, neuroscience. Dialog between clinic/bench to improve preventative/treatment modalities. prereq: All students must be degree-seeking graduate students or dental fellows and should hold a PhD or DDS. instr consent for 4th year dental students and PhD students. CDE available for practitioners.
OBIO 8021 - Oral Microbiology
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Typically offered: Fall Odd Year
Role of indigenous human oral microflora in health/disease. Colonization of oral cavity. Role of specific pathogens in development of dental caries and periodontal diseases. Infections of dental pulp and periapical tissues. Oral manifestations of viral/fungal infections. Microbial considerations in specialty areas of dental practice. prereq: Dental specialist or oral research trainee or instr consent
OBIO 8022 - Oral Neuroscience
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Typically offered: Spring Odd Year
Background lectures and student presentations on current research topics to evaluate questions in general motor/sensory function related to oral/nasal structures. Taste, smell, and other chemical senses as they relate to those structures. prereq: Dental specialist or oral research trainee or instr consent
OBIO 8023 - Physical Biology of the Oral Cavity
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
Structure/function of load-bearing components of human masticatory system from biophysical point of view. Mandibular form/movement. Infrastructure of hard tissues as related to occlusal wear and masticatory efficiency. Role of saliva and salivary pellicle in reduction of interocclusal friction. Computer simulation of jaw mechanics. prereq: Dental specialist or oral research trainee or instr consent
OBIO 8024 - Genetics and Human Disease
Credits: 1.0 [max 1.0]
Course Equivalencies: 00881 - Dent 5315/OBio 8024
Typically offered: Every Spring
Principles of medical genetics. Emphasizes oral diseases. Twins, chromosomes, recombinant DNA, major gene traits, genes in populations, chromosomal abnormalities, complex traits, facial clefts, dental caries, periodontal diseases. prereq: Dental specialist or oral research trainee or instr consent
OBIO 8025 - Topics in Cariology
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
Lectures, assigned readings, and discussions of basic epidemiological, biological, and chemical aspects of dental caries. Etiology, epidemiology, and pathogenesis of dental caries. Influence of dietary, salivary, plaque, and microbial factors on caries process. prereq: Dental specialist or oral research trainee or instr consent
OBIO 8026 - Salivary Glands and Secretions
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Fall Even Year
Salivary gland structure/development. Mechanisms/control of macromolecule/electrolyte secretion. Salivary protein structure/function, interactions with bacteria. Salivary pellicle, salivary gland disease. Clinical studies, readings, student presentations. Each student develops a research proposal. prereq: Dental specialist or oral research trainee or instr consent
OBIO 8027 - Biomaterials in Regenerative Dentistry
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Fall Odd Year
Describes most modern research strategies that are being developed by interdisciplinary groups to obtain revolutionary materials for its use in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The central role of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and biomimetics in these research strategies is highlighted. Focus on dental applications is provided. prereq: Dental specialist or oral research trainee or instr consent
OBIO 8028 - Molecular Basis of Cellular and Microbial Adhesion
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Odd Year
Biochemical basis of adhesion phenomena. Cells of immune system, development of organs, tissue formation, bacterial colonization of the human. prereq: Dental specialist or oral research trainee or instr consent
OBIO 8371 - Mucosal Immunobiology
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: MICa/MVB/OBio 8371
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Host immune processes at body surfaces. Innate/adaptive immunity at mucosal surfaces. Interactions/responses of various mucosal tissues to pathogens. Approaches to target protective vaccination to mucosal tissues. Lectures, journal. prereq: MICa 8001 or equiv or instr consent
OBIO 8030 - Oral Biology Seminar
Credits: 1.0 [max 10.0]
Grading Basis: S-N or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Faculty and student discussion of current topics in oral biology. prereq: Dental specialist or oral research trainee or instr consent
STAT 5021 - Statistical Analysis
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Intensive introduction to statistical methods for graduate students needing statistics as a research technique. prereq: college algebra or instr consent; credit will not be granted if credit has been received for STAT 3011
PUBH 6450 - Biostatistics I
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Descriptive statistics. Gaussian probability models, point/interval estimation for means/proportions. Hypothesis testing, including t, chi-square, and nonparametric tests. Simple regression/correlation. ANOVA. Health science applications using output from statistical packages. prereq: [College-level algebra, health sciences grad student] or instr consent
PUBH 7445 - Statistics for Human Genetics and Molecular Biology
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
Introduction to statistical problems arising in molecular biology. Problems in physical mapping (radiation hybrid mapping, DDP), genetic mapping (pedigree analysis, lod scores, TDT), biopolymer sequence analysis (alignment, motif recognition), and micro array analysis. prereq: [6450, [6451 or equiv]] or instr consent; background in molecular biology recommended
OBIO 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral
Credits: 1.0 -24.0 [max 100.0]
Grading Basis: No Grade
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
(No description) prereq: Max 18 cr per semester or summer; 24 cr required