Students in the Ph.D. Program in the  Oral Biology (OBIO) Graduate Program in Department of Biomedical Sciences  receive training in the broad fields of Craniofacial development and genetics, Bioengineering and regeneration, Mineralized tissue biology and Neuroscience and pain. This training includes the advanced study of cell and molecular mechanisms, experimental studies, and clinical studies of development, growth, aging, function, disease, and treatment.

Work leading to the degree of doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) is designed to give the candidate a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of a professional field and training in methods of research. The final basis for granting the degree is the candidate's mastery of the subject matter of a broad field of study and the demonstrated ability to do independent research. In addition, the candidate must acquire the ability to express thoughts clearly in both oral and written language.

Minimum Requirements

The minimum requirements for the Ph.D. degree in the OBIO Graduate Program in the Department of Biomedical Sciences include the successful completion of: 1) basic core courses or equivalents, 2) additional elective courses, 3) preliminary examinations, and 4) a dissertation. Students must maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 on a scale of 0 to 4.0. A minimum of 96 semester credit-hours plus dissertation are required for graduation. Students entering with a D.D.S. or other advanced degrees from American institutions may transfer up to 32 credits toward this credit-hour requirement if approved by the the OBIO Graduate Program Committee.  Those entering from the M.S. Program in Oral Biology at Texas A&M College of Dentistry may receive credit for all courses taken as part of the M.S. program if approved by the OBIO Graduate Program Committee.


See residence policy at the following link:

Curriculum and Credit Requirements

Course requirements for the degree consist of a total of 96 semester hours, which will be made up of required courses, electives, research, special problems, and directed readings. Since many students enter the program with advanced standing, some required courses may be waived, depending on their academic background. Hours of Dissertation have no set maximum or minimum and are included as part of the required 96 hours.

Full-time students are expected to complete the majority of their didactic coursework during the first two and a half years of residence. For students entering with advanced standing, the coursework should be largely completed midway through the second year.

Recommended Courses

  •  Responsible Conduct in Biomedical Research

  •  Seminar: Current Issues in Biomedical Science (attendance is required during each semester in residence, but the course may be taken a maximum of two times for credit)

  • Research Design and Methodology

  • Applied Biostatistics

The choice of any one of the following course sequences. (Courses at other Dallas-area colleges and universities, such as the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, may be used as alternatives to these sequences if approved by the OBIO Graduate Program Committee.)

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology of Oral and Craniofacial Tissues I  and II ;  Techniques in Cell and Molecular Biology and one of the following: Growth and Mechanism of Development, Advanced Human  Craniofacial Development and Anomalies and Physical Growth and Maturation.

  • Choice of any three of the following courses or course sequences. (This requirement may be waived for students with advanced standing)

  •  Neuroscience

  • General Histology

  • Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology

  • Microbiology

  • Mammalian Physiology

  • Immunology

Specific concentrations have additional requirements that depend on the interests and proposed research plans of the student.

Elective Courses

Students must take elective courses from those offered as part of the OBIO, depending on the student's concentration. OBIO Courses from other departments may also satisfy this requirement, based on approval of the student's advisor and the OBIO Graduate Program Committee. Depending on the proposed area of research, students may also be required to take advanced-level courses at other institutions of higher education within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, such as the University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and University of Texas at Arlington.

Credit for reading courses, laboratory rotations, research, and dissertation preparation is arranged on an individual basis.

The choice of elective courses will be determined on an individual basis through consultation between the student and their mentor(s) (i.e., Graduate-research Advisor and Clinical Program Director, as appropriate). The OBIO Graduate Program Committee and the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies must provide final approval of each student's degree plan for their Ph.D. program.

Advanced Standing

Students entering the Ph.D. Program in Oral Biology who have completed graduate courses in the basic sciences, typically as part of a predoctoral dental curriculum, may not be required to take a substantial portion of the required curriculum, depending on their specific background. Advanced standing may be given for up to 32 of the 96 credit hours required for the degree.  See TAMU graduate catalog for further information:

Initial Advisors

After being admitted to the graduate program the student will consult with the OBIO Graduate Program Director, who will serve as the student's initial advisor. The OBIO Graduate Program Director will help the student select coursework and will suggest other faculty with whom the student may consult in order to secure a permanent advisor (mentor).

Each student is required to meet with their advisor/mentor and the Graduate Program Director prior to the beginning of each semester to discuss the coursework for the upcoming semester and progress toward the degree. The OBIO Program Committee will review the progress of each student on a regular basis.

In some cases, an advisory committee may be appointed for the student to facilitate construction of the student's degree plan. The committee will be approved by the OBIO Graduate Program Committee and will most often consist of the student's proposed mentor, the Graduate Program Director, and one or two other members. Advisory committees will be assigned by the Graduate Program Committee and will typically be used when: 1) the student proposes a mentor who is an adjunct faculty member, a part-time faculty member, or a faculty member who does not have much familiarity with the graduate program, or 2) the student's proposed program is interdisciplinary and could benefit from the input of multiple faculty advisors.

In the case of students pursuing concurrent Ph.D. training and clinical certification, a Dentist/Scientist Committee will be appointed by the OBIO Graduate Program Committee. The Dentist/Scientist Committee will consist of the student's mentor/advisor and the OBIO Program Director and the Clinical Graduate Program Director. Other members may also be appointed by the OBIO Graduate Program Committee. Meetings of the Dentist/Scientist Committee will be held at least once a year to review the student's progress. Meetings will be organized by the student and the mentor. Additional meetings may be held at the request of the student or mentor, or if any issues affecting progress develop. If necessary, the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies will attend the meetings of the Dentist/Scientist Committee to help coordinate the clinical and basic science components of the program.


By the third semester of residence and preferably by the end of the second semester of residence, each student should select a mentor from among the graduate faculty who will be responsible for helping the student formulate a degree plan. For students entering with a year of advanced standing, a mentor should be selected by the end of the second semester of residence. The Texas A&M College of Dentistry graduate faculty member (mentor) who assumes responsibility for coordinating the student's thesis research will be a graduate faculty member. In some circumstances, a mentor from outside the OBIO Program may be permitted with the approval of the OBIO Graduate Program Committee. In such cases, a Texas A&M  College of Dentistry faculty member who is a member of the graduate faculty will be appointed as a co-mentor and will serve as the student's advocate who will advise the student in meeting the degree requirements.

The qualities of a good mentor are numerous. The mentor must: 1) produce scholarly activity and be able to establish close rapport with the graduate student to facilitate excellence in research; 2) have a substantial background in the methodology for the proposed project and be able to guide the student in formulating a credible scientific design; and 3) have time for research and  counsel as well as supervision of students.

Admission to Candidacy

After the student satisfactorily completes the residency requirements, all formal coursework (excluding Dissertation), the preliminary examination, and the dissertation proposal, the OBIO Graduate Program Committee advances the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Failure of any portion of the program may require additional work, retaking of examinations, or in some cases, dismissal from the program.

Degree Plan

The student, in consultation with their mentor and Advisory Committee, will develop a proposed degree plan for submission to the Office for Graduate Professional Studies (OGAPS) via the Document Processing Submission System (DPSS) by no later than the end of the second semester of residence. Part-time students may submit this plan at a later time as determined by the pace of their program and consultation with the OBIO Graduate Program Director.  A form is used to establish or change a degree plan; after being filled in, a hard copy should be printed and the required signatures obtained.  This form can be found on the Graduate Studies, Future Students page. 

For students entering with advanced standing, this document should be prepared and submitted as early as possible. 

The degree plan must contain: 1) a listing of completed and ongoing coursework, 2) an approximate listing of future coursework, 3) a statement of the student's overall research area, and 4) a possible specific area for dissertation research. The Department of Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Committee will review this document and make suggestions for changes, as appropriate. 

Qualifying Exam

The student, in consultation with their mentor and Advisory Committee, must develop a plan for  qualifying and preliminary examinations. This plan should be submitted to the OBIO Graduate Program Committee.

The final plan will include: 1) an update of completed and ongoing coursework and a listing of any future coursework; 2) descriptions and rationale for one exam  in specific areas of study; 3) a listing of the faculty member(s) responsible for each ; 4) a brief description of the dissertation topic comprising the major area of study; 5) a listing of the members of the dissertation committee; and 6) a tentative schedule for completing the qualifying and preliminary examinations. The OBIO Graduate Program Committee, in conjunction with the mentor, approves or suggests modifications. 

In the case of students pursuing concurrent Ph.D. and clinical training, the clinical advisor (Clinical Program Director) must approve the degree plan prior to submission to OGAPS.

Students are encouraged to begin the process of taking their preliminary examination as early in their program as possible, usually by the first summer of residence. The examination should be completed by the end of the third semester of residence. These schedules may be delayed for students pursuing dual training programs.

Preliminary Written Examination

Each student will select a written Preliminary  area for examination that is conceptually linked to the major area of study (dissertation topic), but that rely on distinct research technologies and different research literature. The topic area should demonstrate a broad knowledge of the field. Two different faculty members with advanced knowledge of these fields, other than the student's mentor, will be chosen to conduct the the written preliminary examination.  The student will assemble an annotated bibliography of 50-100 or more references for each specific topic. Upon satisfactory completion of each bibliography, as determined by the supervising faculty members, an examination consisting of a series of questions is to be completed as a take-home or open-book examination. The time period for completion of each preliminary take-home examination is not to exceed one week. If deficiencies are found in the examination, the faculty may elect to require written or oral clarification of the answers. This additional portion of the preliminary examination must be completed within two weeks. The faculty evaluating each examination will consolidate their results and report them to the OBIO Program Committee.

As an option to the take-home examination, a student with the permission of the faculty advisors may elect to write a review paper.  This paper should be of sufficient quality to be submitted for publication.


The dissertation must represent a substantial contribution to research in the chosen area, as assessed by the student’s Dissertation Committee.  The written dissertation needs to be in the format described by TAMU.  The subject area should be determined by the Dissertation Committee, but there must be a minimum of two substantive papers and preferably three papers submitted for publication.  Articles must be in the review process, although their final acceptance is not required prior to the dissertation defense.

Dissertation Proposal

The major oral preliminary examination is based on the dissertation proposal. The student prepares a research proposal according to the  NIH R01 grant format. The student's Dissertation Committee reads and approves this proposal and, after approval using the form "Proposal for Thesis/Dissertation,"  gives the student an oral examination. The examiners consist of  members of the Dissertation Committee, and if necessary, other faculty members appointed by the OBIO Graduate Program Committee. The format of the oral exam consists of a brief presentation (15 to 30 minutes) of the proposal, followed by questioning by the committee.  The questions are based on the content of the dissertation proposal, but may also be more wide-ranging to include topics from the broader area of the student's proposed research. The student's mentor synthesizes the opinion of the examining faculty regarding the proposal and the oral examination, and reports the results on the proposal evaluation form.   The mentor also reports any dissenting opinions. In case of disagreements, a simple majority vote is used to achieve resolution.  The results of the oral examination will be reported with the outcome of the dissertation defense.  Oral defense of the proposal is the oral qualifying exam.

Dissertation Committee

The Dissertation Committee assures that the student has an adequate background in essential methodology and pertinent literature.  The mentor serves as the chair of the dissertation committee, which must consist of a minimum of three Texas A&M College of Dentistry graduate faculty members and at least one graduate faculty member from another department or component of Texas A&M University or another institution. Because the committee members must be available for meetings and consultation with the student, full-time faculty members are preferable.  All members of the committee need to be Associate, Adjunct, Special or Full Graduate faculty members.

The first function of the Dissertation Committee is to help plan the proposed research project. During the progress of the research and writing of the thesis, committee members provide guidance to the student to maintain the quality of the work.

Dissertation Defense

A copy of the dissertation in the final approved format must be submitted to the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies one week before the dissertation defense, along with a form stating that the chair of the student's Dissertation Committee (mentor) has approved the final version.  If changes are required that cannot be accomplished in the time available, the dissertation defense will be rescheduled.

 After approval by the dissertation committee, the student schedules a formal dissertation defense, which consists of two parts. The first part is a formal presentation of the dissertation research in seminar format to the College of Dentistry. This public research presentation will take place at a convenient time so that any interested individuals from inside or outside the school may attend and ask questions of the candidate. At the conclusion of the seminar and audience questions, all non-committee members are excused, and the candidate submits to a formal defense of the dissertation by the Dissertation Committee. If the committee decides that the candidate has satisfactorily passed the defense and completed the dissertation, the candidate will have completed all requirements for the Ph.D. If the dissertation committee thinks that there are deficiencies in the dissertation, then changes, corrections and (in some cases) additional research may be required.

The completed dissertation must be signed by the chair of the Dissertation Committee (mentor), all committee members, the Director of the OBIO Graduate Program and the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies.  The final dissertation will be electronically submitted to the OGAPS office for final approval.

Time Limit

All requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within a period of 10 consecutive calendar years. The student may request with cause that the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies grant a one-year (only) extension.  Graduate credit for course work more than ten calendar years old at the time of the final oral examination may not be used to satisfy degree requirements.

The final corrected copies of the dissertation or record of study must be accepted by the OGAPS .