PhD programs in dental surgery prepare students to be thoroughly knowledgeable in the medical aspects of dentistry as well as capable of establishing their own dental practice for evaluating and assessing oral health issues. Dental surgery PhD candidates study orthodontics, periodontics, operative dentistry, fixed prosthodontics, radiology, and practice management, among other topics. Students pursuing doctoral degrees complete basic dentistry course work in subjects like dental anatomy, general pathology, and oral microbiology, and must satisfy extensive clinical internship or dental residency requirements to gain professional experience. Many doctorates in dental surgery promote specialized disciplines in dentistry, such as endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, or pediatric dentistry, for example. A Ph.D. in dental surgery provides the curriculum necessary to produce qualified dental surgeons and other specialists in the dentistry field.
PhD programs in dental surgery typically integrate biological, medical, behavioral, and clinical sciences, to provide a well-rounded education that benefits graduates in various settings — whether academic, or through private practice or public service. Doctoral-level course work is assessed on a case-by-case basis, but typically reflects the culmination of a holistic, practical approach. Students achieve a thorough understanding of oral and craniofacial health and how it relates to overall health and wellness, as well as the professional skills to provide patient care and manage their own dental practice or clinic. Doctorates require intensive clinical study, and candidates must meet program requirements, present a dissertation, and pass a competency exam in order to graduate.
About Online PhD Programs in Dental Surgery
PhD programs in dental surgery provide a comprehensive education in the science of dentistry as well as current developments in the field. Clinical experience is key in this Ph.D. program. Due to the hands-on medical training requirements, no fully online doctoral programs currently exist in dental surgery; however it is possible with the advent of new technologies in education that select courses may be available in an online format in the near future. The University of Maryland School of Dentistry was the first school in the world to offer a science-based curriculum in dentistry. In response to the demand from dentistry professionals to increase the scope of dental surgery education, the University of Maryland developed a combined Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Sample courses from the DDS/PhD curriculum are below:
- Advanced Topics in Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery. This lecture course covers all phases of oral and maxillofacial surgery beyond the basics of the introductory course, including disease complications, infections, and developmental deformities.
- Special Topics in Oral Maxillofacial Surgery. Through lectures and clinical experience, the student learns how to address the management and reconstruction of craniofacial anomalies and facial esthetic surgery.
- Dental Anesthesiology. Students learn techniques for administering local dental anesthetic and controlling pain and anxiety in patients.
Current Developments in Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery. In this course, students are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge of oral-maxillofacial surgery in the treatment of
- Selected Topics in Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery. This course consists of two components: the management of medical emergencies and special topics in oral maxillofacial surgery.
- Doctoral Dissertation Research. In performing intensive research for this required component of the doctoral degree, students present their original research by writing a formal dissertation.
For Ph.D. candidates, the dissertation typically represents the completion of the doctoral degree. As part of the dissertation process, doctoral dental surgery students organize a formal presentation of their original research, concepts, and findings in the field of dentistry and dental surgery. Dissertations are intended to introduce new ideas or innovations in the student's field of interest, usually serving as a conclusion to years of academic study and experience. In addition to presenting a dissertation in dental surgery, Ph.D. candidates are required to take a competency exam to become practicing dental surgeons.
Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Dental Surgery
Potential students of a Ph.D. program in dental surgery should always consider the pros and cons. As a field incorporating a unique blend of science, medicine, and patient care, the course work to achieve a doctoral degree in dental surgery can be taxing. The intensive rotation of years of lectures, seminars, lab work, and clinical service work is not for the faint of heart. Some students might be wary of making this kind of commitment or finding the money to pay for school. Others may decide to set their sights on a less ambitious career, like one that doesn't require a doctorate.
Getting a PhD in dental surgery has many advantages. With a doctoral degree, you can be sure you're among the top qualified candidates in your field to practice dentistry. Although dental surgeons perform a specialized service in this field, even practicing dentists are required to hold a doctorate. Dentists commanded an average annual salary of $146,920 in May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While the educational requirements and extensive curriculum for a dental surgery doctoral degree may seem rigorous, the additional career opportunities they provide can be worth all of the hard work. And, with new online course options being added so frequently in the world of distance education, e-learners may soon be able to satisfy some dental surgery academic requirements entirely online.
Application & Admission Requirements
PhDs in dental surgery require certain doctoral program pre-requisites. Specific requirements vary, but most programs require a minimum of dental program clinical experience and graduate-level basic science courses, most likely resulting in a master's degree in dentistry or a specialized area of the field. In addition, the student should be prepared to conduct independent study in their area of concentration as well as develop and present a doctoral dissertation. Doctorate candidates will undergo an extensive application process, usually including an evaluation of academic experience as well as an entrance interview, and they must also satisfy minimum GPA requirements.
Career Options & Job Market
Dental surgeons are required to hold a doctoral-level degree to practice in their field. As a way of standardizing high-quality dental care, one of the purposes of obtaining a doctorate in dental surgery is for the candidate to demonstrate a proven mastery of industry skills. With the highest degree-level achieved, dental surgeons with Ph.D.s are eligible to seek out top career opportunities and command a higher salary. While occupational details of dental surgeons are unspecified, physicians and surgeons made a mean annual salary of $166,400 in May 2010, for example, which is among the highest of all occupations, according to the BLS.
Where to Find Information
- American Dental Association is the oldest and largest national dental society in the world. The ADA has evolved into a trusted resource for dentists and their patients to find information on oral health.
- American Dental Education Association is a leading organization in the world of dental education; it promotes learning opportunities and career development for prospective dentistry professionals.
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is the federal government's premier agency for scientific research on oral, dental and craniofacial health and disease. NIDCR is one of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health (NIH).
How to Get Funding
To apply for financial aid, Ph.D. students in dental surgery should start by submitting the FAFSA form to assess their federal aid options. In addition to federal government and state aid opportunities, Students are also encouraged to seek out specific institutional fellowships from the NIH, which offers dental student training grants; these options are typically subject to the rules and regulations of individual programs, as per each school's guidelines and dental program requirements.
- Federal Direct Stafford Loan. Offering a maximum of $20,500 and a fixed interest rate of 6.80% per year, low-interest loans are available for Ph.D. students through this aid program.
- Federal Perkins Loan. Averaging $3,500 per academic year at a low interest rate of 5.0%, this need-based loan applies only to full-time students with a demonstrated requisite for financial assistance.
- Campus-Based Aid. While each university manages campus-based financial aid according to their own system, schools also participate in as many federally regulated programs as possible, and duly inform their students of their government aid options.
- Think it through. Make sure you are making the right decision, and it is one for which you can handle committing. Although it may seem difficult in the beginning, if this is the right move for you, you'll see that the long-term benefits will be worth it in the end. Don't be afraid to ask other dental surgery Ph.D. students for advice.
- As soon as you're able, begin the application process. It may feel like it took a lot of work to get to the starting line, but it is going to take more time just to get through the application process. But at least you have time on your side if you get started early.
- Accept the opportunity to gain work experience whenever you can. Going from one degree in dental surgery straight into your doctorate may not work for you. It's okay to allow yourself to get your bearings and think it over before committing to a doctoral education.
- Financial help- Undoubtedly, the potential stress of this program could be lessened by having your finances in order before you get started. If you know where your financial aid will come from and your aid for school is squared away, you'll have one less thing to worry about.