PhD in Oral Sciences

Training the 'Next-Generation' of Oral Health Professionals

dentist working in lab

Customizable curriculum combining clinical care with oral science research and biomedical technology

This program trains the next generation of oral health scientists. Oral Sciences utilizes cutting edge biomedical technology and knowledge to address basic and clinical research questions of importance for promoting and maintaining oral health. The program also offers an opportunity to combine PhD training with a DMD for a dual degree.

Program Description

The curriculum consists of a core based on the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Graduate Education in Medical Sciences (GEMS) Program coupled with an option to select one of three curricular tracks: Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology; Biomaterials Science; or, Microbiology/Immunology. Students participate in an oral science topics series throughout the program. Students who are candidates for the PhD will usually complete the program within 4-5 years. Students who are candidates in the combined DMD/PhD program will earn both the DMD and PhD degrees within 7 years. A preliminary (candidacy) exam and a final thesis defense are required. More information on degree requirements (including curriculum and research thesis) is available from the UIC Graduate College.

Research and Training

Research has demonstrated the definitive associations between oral and systemic diseases such as periodontitis, cardiovascular disease and preterm birth. Students and faculty in the PhD in Oral Sciences program focus on one of three areas of oral health research, all of which integrate the oral cavity with systemic and whole body health: Wound Healing, Cancer Biology and Tissue Engineering. The program prepares students for faculty and research positions in interdisciplinary oral health research. Training emphasizes bench research and the evaluation of scientific data in addition to didactic course work. In addition, training will include presentation and writing skills, as well as other activities essential for developing an independent researcher.

Admissions Requirements

Candidates with an undergraduate degree in a relevant field from an accredited institution are eligible to apply for the PhD in Oral Sciences. Additional requirements include GRE scores above the 50th percentile and, for international candidates, minimum levels of English proficiency as set by the University’s Office of Admissions.

Tuition & Fees

Please visit UIC’s tuition and fees page for current tuition rates for the PhD program. Please visit the UIC Office of Financial Aid for information about how to fund your education.

How to Apply

Step 1: Statement of interest
All candidates must express interest in writing to:

Lyndon F. Cooper, DDS, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Department Head, Oral Biology
Room 402e
801 S Paulina St., Chicago, IL 60612

Step 2: Online application
All applicants must complete the UIC graduate application for the PhD in Oral Sciences, Program Code 20FS1525PhD. All materials requested during the online application (official transcripts, application fee and GRE scores) must be uploaded directly to the University’s Office of Admissions’ online application. All applicants should carefully read the directions available from  UIC Graduate Admissions.

Applicants will also be required to upload the following:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Personal statement
  • 3 letters of recommendation

Dates and deadlines for the application are available from the UIC Graduate College.

Once your application is complete, it will be reviewed by the Graduate Studies Committee. The committee will either make a determination immediately or ask you to interview, in-person or online video conference accommodations are available. Once a decision has been made, you will be notified by letter.

The DMD/PhD Program

The DMD/PhD program integrates our innovative DMD curriculum and clinical training with a customizable basic and translational oral sciences track to offer graduates both a DMD and PhD in Oral Sciences.  Students work closely with faculty mentors and multidisciplinary  science teams to gain valuable experience in the lab and clinic to prepare for careers in science, academics or specialized clinical practice.

Watch these videos to hear from current DMD/PhD candidates on the advantages of combining clinical training with oral science research experience.

Multidisciplinary Oral Science Training (MOST program)

The Multidisciplinary Oral Science Training (MOST) Program is a T32 National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) funded umbrella program that supports trainees at various stages of their career and graduate studies that fall within the core research/training mission of the training grant. The program offers several tracks for both undergraduate and graduate / post-graduate researchers, including a PhD program and a combined PhD/DMD program, an undergraduate summer program, and a postdoctoral fellowship.
More about the MOST program

Research Areas

Craniofacial Pathology

Leading interdisciplinary investigations in the development and function of the craniofacial complex including processes that occur within cells and tissues to maintain health and control growth and development; understanding how alterations (genetic/environmental) result in disease (cancer) and study of microbiome/host interactions.

Regenerative Science

Moving beyond tissue replacement, using materials to enable our bodies to regenerate damaged and failing tissues. We are leading investigations into how materials interact with living tissues, and the building of tissue replacements for the growth of cells/tissues to replace lost tissues. The Center for Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration (CWHTR) is a unique community of scientists and clinicians devoted to the study of injury, wound healing, and regeneration. The Laboratory of Applied Dental Biomaterials and Interfaces is a NIH funded center studying the properties of the tooth in order to develop reparative/regenerative biomaterials to replace lost tooth structure.

Clinical, Translational & Community

Leading transformative studies to improve oral health outcomes both in the clinic and the community. We have several centers and investigators focused on the study of the incidence and prevalence of disease; measuring outcomes of interventions; and safety and efficacy of drugs, devices, and treatments in individuals. We are also investigating how and why efforts to promote oral health through intervention are accepted by communities. The Oral Medicine and Pharmacognosy Research (OMPR) Laboratory focuses on medical anthropology and ethnopharmacology to study the non-destructive radiation in oral diagnostics and forensics. The Dental Medicine Responder Training (DMRT) is performing theory and policy research supporting dental professionals for emergency preparedness throughout the community.


Contact Us

For more information about the PhD in Oral Sciences program, and to apply, please contact:

Lyndon F. Cooper, DDS, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Department Head, Oral Biology
Room 402e
801 S Paulina St., Chicago, IL 60612