USC University of Southern California

Craniofacial Biology Graduate Programs

Student conducting research

The Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC offers two graduate degrees in craniofacial biology: a Master of Science (MS) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Both programs prepare students for careers in academic environments as clinical scholars or as members of multidisciplinary teams of health professionals in academic research centers.

In addition, a Graduate Certificate in Craniofacial Biology is offered. The Certificate in Craniofacial Biology is intended to provide dentists in post-graduate dental education with experience in graduate education and insight into the requirements to complete a graduate degree. This will provide the students with additional information relative to selecting academic careers. All graduate certificate students must have a dental degree and have been admitted to a postgraduate dental education program sponsored by the Ostrow School of Dentistry.

Program Focus and Goals

The goal of the Craniofacial MS and PhD programs are to train outstanding students to become advanced research scientists and the next generation of leaders in oral health-related research. The collaborative environment within the school and across the university stimulates well-prepared students to embark on their career and leadership roles in dental education and research. Through a multidisciplinary approach, students will obtain a thorough understanding of the expanding opportunities in oral and craniofacial biology research.

The program offers an interactive experience with the necessary foundation for advancing basic, clinical, and translational research. Graduates will possess the qualifications and research expertise to become productive faculty members at leading universities and senior scientists in various academic institutions or industrial settings.

The Ostrow School of Dentistry’s Craniofacial Biology Graduate Program, with support from the Keck School of Medicine of USC Program in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (PIBBS), provides a flexible, stimulating and uniquely structured curriculum for well-qualified candidates. We place special emphasis on:

  • The selection of sincerely interested students dedicated to a career in dentistry and biomedical research.
  • An exceptional environment for candidates to fulfill their research objectives. The exploration of research at USC allows students to participate in world-class facilities that set the standard for basic discoveries, clinical application, and research training.
  • Formal educational classes addressing the science of, and needs for, translational and clinical research.
  • The insight and guidance to frame significant problems and to work in mentored relationships with faculty who value their role as an educator of the next generation of professionals in dental medicine.
  •  Experience through coursework, seminars, and workshops that will enable students to write competitive grants.

The program aims to prepare students for careers that involve the synthesis and execution of state-of-the-art multidisciplinary biomedical research and to be highly sought after for research and academic leadership positions.

Craniofacial biology has both clinical and academic importance. The craniofacial biology graduate programs at the Ostrow School of Dentistry focus primarily on development and disease as well as prokaryotic and eukaryotic genetics. Significant emphasis is placed on understanding:

  • Normal and pathological craniofacial development
  • Genetic disease
  • Biomineralization of dental hard tissues
  • Biosynthetic and biocompatible materials development
  • Stem-cell biology and tissue engineering
  • Dental pathologies affecting the dentition and surrounding tissues, including periodontitis, osteonecrosis, and pulpitis

Attention is given to the nation’s health-related needs and disease prevention through collaboration with the USC Rossier School of Education, the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

The graduate degree programs in craniofacial biology require didactic courses of instruction, including classes in craniofacial genetics and development, bioethical issues, statistics, and scientific writing. The programs also require a research project to be satisfactorily completed prior to graduation for both the MS and PhD.