Dentist-Scientist (DDS/PhD) Program

The University of Minnesota's DDS/PhD program will prepare you to meet the challenges of interdisciplinary research and advancing technologies.

Why a DDS/PhD Program?

Careers in craniofacial, dental, or oral health research are broadly diverse and exciting. Did you know that the University of Minnesota's School of Dentistry is home to tissue engineers and virologists, developmental biologists and computer modelers, immunologists and epidemiologists, clinical investigators and molecular biologists? Why? The oral cavity is an easily accessible laboratory for microbiologists, cell biologists, neuroscientists, geneticists, and many others. Research is no longer limited by discipline; future leaders in the field will need to be able to think broadly and work with an interdisciplinary research team. To improve the human condition, researchers must integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines and educate future clinicians to work at the state-of-the-art.

Graduating with a DDS and a PhD will position you for a career in academia, industry, and government institutes, as well as clinical practice.

Learn how to apply

Two Paths to Graduation

You will need 8 years to complete both the DDS and PhD. The degrees are awarded simultaneously upon completion of all requirements of both programs. There are 2 paths to graduation; both begin in the PhD program.

  1. Complete 4 years of PhD study before beginning DDS coursework. Redundant basic science courses in the DDS curriculum are waived, allowing time for completion of PhD requirements such as dissertation writing and defense by the end of the 8th year. This is the preferred path.
  2. Complete 2 years of PhD study and begin the DDS curriculum in year 3, be exempted from redundant basic science and other preclinical courses, while continuing some graduate research training simultaneously. The DDS curriculum is completed by year 6 and you then return to full-time PhD research, completing all requirements by the end of year 8.

Contact us

Graduate Program in Oral Biology
Kim Mansky, PhD, Director of Graduate Studies
Ann Hagen, Assistant to the DGS

DDS Program
Naty Lopez, PhD, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Diversity

MinnCResT Program
Mark Herzberg, DDS, PhD, Director
Ann Hagen, Assistant Director

Our Curriculum


DDS/PhD trainees are encouraged to enroll in the PhD program in Oral Biology; other graduate programs may be possible. A cross-disciplinary academic minor is also required in fields such as molecular biology, genetics, or neuroscience. Oral Biology offers multidisciplinary training in the biology of oral tissues under the direction of a faculty with diverse backgrounds and research interests. The curriculum provides a broad understanding of the orofacial region, its development (including aging), structure, function, and pathology. The intent of the program is to train scientists who will be equipped to enter research and teaching careers.

Research facilities are excellent, with well-equipped laboratories in a modern building. The program is housed in the School of Dentistry, which is part of a major health sciences complex. There is an extensive tissue culture facility and laboratories for salivary chemistry, cell biology and immunology, mineralized tissue studies, microbiology, neuroscience, biomaterials, and biophysics of oral function. Excellent animal facilities are available. A large patient population is available for a variety of clinical studies.


The DDS program requires 4 years of study. The curriculum includes basic sciences and dentistry courses including management and supervision of dental practice, jurisprudence and ethics. Elective experiences are also available.

The first year coursework includes basic science courses on normal human tissues, including the molecular, cellular, and organ systems. Technical dental courses, analysis of dental literature, and ethical training applicable to the profession begin during the first year. In the second year, basic science courses focus on pathology. Technical dental courses culminate in treating patients. Clinical science courses occupy much of the third year. Correlations among basic, behavioral and clinical sciences are established in the clinical setting. Students model their first dental practice and provide comprehensive patient care. In the fourth year, students undertake additional clinical training and are exposed to advanced techniques and alternative treatments.

Financial Support

An offer of admission to the Oral Biology Graduate Program does not guarantee financial support. Some competitive fellowships, research grant assistantships, or teaching assistantships may be available.

MinnCResT Program

Funding for the DDS/PhD program may be available through the Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training (MinnCResT) Program. A MinnCResT Fellowship provides full tuition plus stipends, health insurance, research expenses, and travel funds for up to 6 years of DDS/PhD study. The MinnCResT Program also offers unique career development opportunities including monthly seminars and roundtable discussions, an industry internship program, and interdisciplinary research opportunities. Students must apply directly to the MinnCResT Program for fellowship support; learn more at MinnCResT.

The MinnCResT Program is supported by a training grant (T90) from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.