How to Apply


All students in the graduate program major in Oral Biology and pursue a minor in a related basic science such as neuroscience, biophysics, physiology, biochemistry or microbiology (many other minors are also offered). Graduate level courses, tutorials and laboratory experiences are offered under the direction of Oral Biology Graduate Faculty. Students also participate in a weekly seminar.

Depending on the academic background of the student, prerequisite courses may be necessary before undertaking advanced level course-work. Research leading to the MS degree or the PhD degree will be conducted under the supervision of a member of the Graduate Faculty in Oral Biology. Research rotations in faculty laboratories are available to aid in selecting a research advisor. In conjunction with the advisor, the student develops a research project and selects appropriate coursework for the research area.

The time taken to complete a degree program varies from student to student. As a general guideline, the MS Program requires 2-3 years and the PhD program requires a minimum of 4 years.

Apply online

Combined studies

For students holding the DDS degree, it is possible to obtain clinical specialty training concurrently with graduate studies in Oral Biology. All requirements for the clinical program must be satisfied independently of training in Oral Biology. Concurrent training will increase the total time required to complete the PhD program.

Who may apply

The Graduate Program in Oral Biology welcomes a diverse pool of applicants. International students are very welcome to apply. Applicants for the graduate program must satisfy the requirements of the Graduate School, which will include either a bachelors (BA or BS) degree or a DDS or equivalent. Dental hygienists completing a bachelor's program are encouraged to apply. Applicants who fulfill these criteria may apply to either the MS or PhD program. In general, successful applicants to the MS program will have work experience in a strong research setting. The MS is not required to apply for the PhD program.

Application process

  • Applications must be completed online. Files are incomplete and will not be reviewed until ALL application materials are received.
  • You will be asked to create an application account. This will allow you to save your application without submitting it and return to complete sections in the future.
  • The term of entry should always be "Fall." The Graduate Program in Oral Biology does NOT accept applications for other entry dates.
  • The campus is "University of Minnesota - Twin Cities."
  • Under "Applicant Statements," only Statement #1 is required. Follow the instructions on this website (below), not on the application site. You will not be helped nor harmed by submitting or not submitting Statement #2.
  • Under "Program Supplementary Information," upload your research essay (see below) as the "Description of Research or Work Experience." Upload your resume/CV as "Resume or CV." The CV is required.
  • All other sections in "Program Supplementary Information" should remain empty. You will not be helped nor harmed by submitting or not submitting additional information.
  • Recommendations MUST be submitted directly by the referees into the online system. Paper letters and/or letters uploaded by the applicant will not be accepted. Contact if this is a concern.
  • All applicants are strongly encouraged to contact prior to submitting an application to discuss the program and any questions about the curriculum, faculty, training, or application.


The Graduate Record Examination is required. Applicants to the DDS/PhD program may submit a recent DAT score in lieu of the GRE. The University of Minnesota’s GRE code is 6874. Test results are received by the Graduate School and included with your application.

International students may also need to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. To determine if you need to submit such scores, please see the Graduate School's website.

Test results are one of many factors considered in the admissions process and low test scores do not automatically preclude admission. Strong applicants will have TOEFL IBT scores above 90 and GRE scores at or above 500V (153 in new system), 600Q (148 in new system), and 5.0 writing.

Letters of recommendation

Applicants must submit three (3) letters of recommendation online. Paper letters mailed to the Director of Graduate Studies will not be considered. Letters must describe the applicant's potential to become an independent scientist or investigator, offering specific examples, and comment on the potential for the applicant to teach and achieve an academic career.

If the applicant is a clinician and/or intends to engage in clinical training, letters should also describe the applicant's clinical skills or potential to acquire clinical skills, and explain why the applicant can be successful in a concurrent research training program. Recommendation letters without narrative description of the applicant will not be considered complete.

Personal statement

Applicants must submit a personal statement. The personal statement must explain in detail how a degree in Oral Biology will advance the applicant’s research and academic career. In addition, the personal statement must outline the research questions that the applicant would like to pursue. This document will be uploaded to the online application as Statement #1 on the "Applicant Statements" page.

The online application also shows a Statement #2. Statement #2 is optional for Oral Biology applicants.

Research essay

In addition to a personal statement, applicants must submit an essay of about two pages describing their research aspirations. Each applicant may choose one of two essay formats for their response:

1) Describe in detail one or two significant research questions that the applicant would like to pursue. In the context of contemporary science, explain why the question(s) is important. Explain specific strategies or experimental plans to address the question(s).


2) Review the five core curricula recommended by the Graduate Program in Oral Biology and the mentor faculty described on the program website. Explain how the applicant's interest in investigating a specific research question can be complimented by one or more mentor faculty. Describe how the research experiences and coursework in one or more of the core curricula will advance the applicant's research and career plans. While the applicant is not committed to following the curriculum selected at the time of
application, the application review committee will be comprised of faculty members who work in this area.

The research essay should be uploaded into the Graduate School application in the "Graduate Program Supplementary Information" section as the "Description of Research or Work Experience."

International students

The Graduate Program in Oral Biology welcomes applications from international students. For more information about graduate study at the University of Minnesota, review the Frequently Asked Questions for International Students and visit the International Student and Scholar Services website.

Financial aid

Admission to the Graduate Program in Oral Biology is contingent upon each student securing funding for the duration of the PhD degree. The Graduate Program in Oral Biology does not guarantee any financial support. Applicants are urged to pursue external fellowship support from agencies such as NIH, other home governments, and foundations.

Obtaining funding from sources within the University of Minnesota is highly competitive. Applicants with the DDS or equivalent degree who are U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents are eligible to apply for a postdoctoral fellowship from the Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training (MinnCResT) Program. Funding may also be available directly from the student’s faculty research advisor. The Graduate Program in Oral Biology will provide advice on potential sources of funding. Health insurance coverage will vary depending on the source of funding.