University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry

Graduate Degrees

Craniofacial Biology

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
DEN 218
(213) 740-1001 (323) 442-1728
FAX: (213) 740-2376

Director: Michael L. Paine, BDS, Ph.D.


Professors: Yang Chai, DDS, Ph.D.; Casey Chen, DDS, Ph.D.; Cheng-Ming Chuong, M.D., Ph.D. (Medicine); Glenn Clark, DDS, Ph.D.; Paul Denny, Ph.D.; Tina Jaskoll, Ph.D.; Michael Melnick, DDS, Ph.D.; Cedric Minkin, Ph.D.; Mahvash Navazesh, DMD; Janet Moradian-Oldak, Ph.D.; Michael Paine, BDS, Ph.D.; Pragna Patel, Ph.D.; Michael Schneir, Ph.D.; Songtao Shi, DDS, Ph.D.; Jorgen Slots, DDS, Ph.D.; Malcolm Snead, DDS, Ph.D.; David Warburton, M.D. (Medicine)

Associate Professors: Winston Chee, DDS; George Cho, DDS; Roger De Filippo, M.D. (Medicine); Kian Kar, DDS, MS; Robert Keim, DDS, Ph.D.; Saravanan Ram, DDS; Glenn Sameshima, DDS, Ph.D.; Wei Shi, MD, Ph.D. (Medicine); Arnold Tiber, DDS, Ph.D.; Stephen Yen, DMD, Ph.D.; Homayoun Zadeh, DDS, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors: Ruchi Bajpai, M.S., Ph.D.; Ahmed El-Hashash, Ph.D.; Denise Al-Alma, Ph.D.; Reyes Enciso, Ph.D.; Mark Frey, Ph.D. (Medicine); Dan Grauer, DDS, Ph.D.; Ching-Ling Lien, Ph.D., (Medicine); Amy Merrill-Brugger, Ph.D.; Ramiro Murata, DDS, Ph.D.; Laura Perin, Ph.D., (Medicine); Parish P. Sedghizadeh, M.S., DDS; Mark Urata, M.D., DDS; Yan Zhou, Ph.D.

Craniofacial biology is concerned with the evolution, growth, structure and function of oral tissues and the oral region; and with the etiology and pathogenesis of numerous diseases and malformations. These involve studies at various levels of biological organization, from the molecular and subcellular to the organismic. Craniofacial biology comprises a large, rapidly increasing body of knowledge that has both clinical and academic importance. The objective of the program is primarily, but not exclusively, to prepare health science graduates for entry into careers in academic environments as clinical scholars or as members of multidisciplinary teams of health professionals in academic centers of clinical and basic health science research.

Admission Requirements

The graduate program in craniofacial biology offers academic graduate training to individuals with a Doctor of Dental Surgery, Medical Doctor or equivalent degree. Applicants with Bachelor of Science degrees in areas such as biology and chemistry are also encouraged to apply.


Formal application to the USC Office of Graduate Admission and the graduate program in craniofacial biology is required for Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy objectives. All postsecondary transcripts are required and must be forwarded to the Office of Graduate Admission for application to either Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy objectives. An undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better, a verbal score of 153 or better, and quantitative score of 144 or better on the Graduate Record Examinations general test are required. Three letters of recommendation describing academic abilities and personal attributes must be submitted on behalf of the applicant. Personal interviews may be required.

Master of Science in Craniofacial Biology

This degree is under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Students should also refer to the Requirements for Graduation section and the Graduate School section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degree must be courses accepted by the Graduate School. The Master of Science degree in craniofacial biology offers the clinician (DDS, M.D. or equivalent) the opportunity to obtain clinical research knowledge and skills in the area of craniofacial biology. Such training will include research into the causes of craniofacial diseases and anomalies, as well as normal development and function. The course of study is particularly directed toward those clinicians committed to pursuing a career in research and teaching.

Degree Requirements

A total of 32 units is required that includes eight courses in craniofacial biology, four units of 594ab Thesis and necessary units of 590 Thesis Research. All students must achieve a 3.0 grade point average in the craniofacial biology courses. Four core courses in craniofacial biology are required for all students: CBY 574, CBY 579L, CBY 585 and CBY 671. The four remaining courses required may be selected from any offered by the craniofacial biology program or other graduate programs and selected by the students and their mentors to best support their research interests. All students are required to complete a thesis based on the student’s research following a thesis protocol approved by a committee of craniofacial biology faculty. An advisory committee, comprising the research adviser and two additional faculty members, will establish thesis requirements to be completed by the student.

Graduate Certificate in Craniofacial Biology

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 certificate students must have a dental degree and have been admitted to a post-graduate dental education program sponsored by the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC.

Degree Requirements

A total of six CBY courses and 18 units of course work is required for the certificate. The six courses may be selected from the following list: CBY 573, CBY 574, CBY 575, CBY 576, CBY 579L, CBY 583, CBY 585, CBY 587, CBY 672, CBY 673, CBY 674. The credit received for these classes may be applied toward either the M.S. or Ph.D. in Craniofacial Biology should the student decide later to pursue an advanced degree.

Admissions Criteria

Only residents enrolled in advanced dental education and specialty programs will be eligible for the completion of the Certificate in Craniofacial Biology. Residents accepted into the following programs will be eligible: General Practice Residency, Endodontics, Orofacial Pain/Oral Medicine, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontology, Prosthodontics. These residents must complete all the requirements for admission to the dental advanced education programs and have been accepted to these programs by the criteria established by the advanced dental education program faculty.

Doctor of Philosophy in Craniofacial Biology

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in craniofacial biology is awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Students should also refer to the Requirements for Graduation section and the Graduate School section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degree must be courses accepted by the Graduate School. This program is designed to provide health science-oriented training for the professional with interests in academic, as well as clinical, aspects of craniofacial biology.

New Student Orientation Committee

All new students seeking Master of Science and/or Doctor of Philosophy degree objectives will be assigned to an orientation committee. This committee will function to advise and guide new students through their first semester. Thereafter, each student will identify a mentor and assemble a qualifying exam committee.

Qualifying Exam Committee

During the second semester of study each graduate student should select a qualifying exam committee. The qualifying exam committee must include five faculty members who will be of assistance in the student’s education. The student’s mentor will serve as chair of the qualifying exam committee. One committee member must be a USC faculty member from outside the program. The graduate program director will be ex officio a member of all qualifying exam committees. The qualifying exam committee will monitor the student’s progress, recommend readings or additional training, and determine when the student is ready for the qualifying examination. It is the student’s responsibility to meet with the qualifying exam committee at least once during every semester of each academic year. The results of these formal meetings should be summarized by the student in a written statement and submitted to the program director each semester.

Screening Procedure

As soon as the student has satisfactorily completed the core courses and selected the committee, a screening meeting with the qualifying exam committee should be called. The screening procedure may consist of an oral examination; the student will outline his research progress and be examined on academic development. The committee may recommend that the student take specific additional course work and that readings in certain areas be initiated to remedy deficiencies. A brief report will be given to the student and included in his or her file. The student will meet with the committee each semester; they shall agree when the student is prepared to take the qualifying examination in the next semester or if the student should resign or be dropped from the program.

Course Requirements

A total of 60 units is required for the Ph.D. Eight didactic courses at the graduate level are required. The core required CBY courses are CBY 574 or PM 510L, CBY 579L, CBY 585 and INTD 571. The remaining graduate-level courses may be selected from courses offered by any department, following consultation with the graduate mentor and graduate program director. It is highly recommended that Ph.D. students take the PIBBS core curriculum on the Health Sciences Campus. Students must achieve a 3.0 GPA or better in their course work. Students with a Doctor of Dental Surgery or other professional degree may be granted waivers for having completed equivalent course work. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain from the Graduate School the Request for Permission to Take the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination form which must be signed by all committee members. This form must be completed 60 days before the qualifying examination.

Qualifying Examination

The Ph.D. qualifying examination is offered during the fall or spring semesters. A written examination will cover specific subject areas of the core curriculum, as well as topics selected by the qualifying exam committee. After successfully completing all parts of the written examination, the student will prepare and submit an original research proposal to the qualifying exam committee which presents, in National Institutes of Health (NIH) format, the student’s proposed dissertation research. If the submitted proposal is acceptable, an oral examination will be conducted. This examination will include a defense of the proposal and could also include material from the written examination and related topics. A student failing any part of the examination may be allowed one additional opportunity to pass that portion, at the discretion of the qualifying exam committee, within the regulations of the Graduate School governing the repetition of qualifying examinations.


The doctoral dissertation is to focus upon an original research problem which reflects the creative scholarly abilities of the candidate and contributes to the general advancement of biological understanding, as well as to an understanding of the theoretical basis of disease and its treatment.

Defense of the Dissertation

An oral examination on a rough or final copy of the dissertation is conducted within one month following submission of the manuscript to the committee.

Master of Science in Geriatric Dentistry

The Master of Science in Geriatric Dentistry online program consists of a 36.5-month program leading to a master’s degree in geriatric dentistry. The curriculum is designed to prepare students to work in the area of geriatric dentistry. The program consists of a series of didactic courses where the students will gain in-depth knowledge about older adults from a variety of perspectives that will include learning about the aging process and how it affects and is affected by social, behavioral and health factors commonly seen with aging. The program will focus on the most common medical and oral health conditions seen in older adults and their treatments, as well as cognitive changes, mental disorders, and social factors that will impact and thus require adjustments to oral health care delivery.

Required Courses units
ADNT 701 Research Methodologies in Dentistry 2
GDEN 710 Knowledge Assessment for GDEN Students 1
GDEN 711abcde Case Portfolio Preparation for GDEN Students 2.5
GDEN 712abcd Capstone Research Project for GDEN Students 2
GDEN 713 Common Systemic Conditions in Older Patients 2
GDEN 714 Topics in Gerontology 2
GDEN 715 Geriatric Dentistry Issues 2
OFPM 702ab Soft Tissue Disease for Dental Residents 3
OFPM 704 Bony Pathology, Radiology and Advanced Imaging for Dental Residents 1
OFPM 705 Neurogenic Based Oral and Facial Pains for Dental Residents 2
OFPM 707 Pharmacology Series for Dental Residents 2
OFPM 710a Knowledge Assessment for OFPOM Residents 1
GDEN 722 Internal Medicine and Systemic Disease for Dental Residents 2
OFPM 723 Systems Physiology, Motor Disorders and Sleep Apnea for Dental Residents 2
GDEN 725 Epidemiology, Nutrition and Aging for Dental Residents 2
OFPM 726 Immunology and Immunosuppression for Dental Residents 2
Total 30.5

Graduate Certificate in Geriatric Dentistry

The graduate certificate in geriatric dentistry program is designed to prepare practicing dentists who have already completed their professional degrees in general or advanced dentistry to acquire a greater understanding of gerontology and geriatrics. The program consists of 12 units of courses delivered online and in person in which students will gain knowledge about older adults from a variety of perspectives, focusing on those topics that will have a direct impact on professional practice.

Clinical privilege status is not required for any of the course work. Students admitted to the non-degree certificate program are expected to enroll each semester until the program is completed.

There are seven required courses (6 online and one residential) and no electives. As part of the required curriculum, all students will attend USC for a two-week period during the summer trimester following completion of the didactic courses for a knowledge assessment course (GDEN 716). This course will consist of reviews, practical demonstrations and assessment activities.

Required Courses (12 units) units
GDEN 711ab Case Portfolio Preparation for GDEN Students 1
GDEN 713 Common Systemic Conditions in Older Patients 2
GDEN 714 Topics in Gerontology 2
GDEN 715 Geriatric Dentistry Issues 2
GDEN 716 Knowledge Assessment for GDEN Certificate Students 1
OFPM 722 Internal Medicine and Systemic Disease for Dental Residents 2
OFPM 725 Epidemiology, Nutrition and Aging for Dental Residents 2
Total 12

Master of Science in Dental Hygiene

The Master of Science in Dental Hygiene is designed as a 16-month full-time program, but can be taken as a part-time program. The program is designed to train graduate dental hygiene students to become leaders in the field who will help to advance the art and science of the discipline of dental hygiene. Students will learn how to integrate research findings into the dental hygiene process of care to form strategies to decrease oral disease risks and promote oral health among individuals, families and communities. The first three trimesters are devoted to course work that progressively leads to the formation and acceptance of a project plan for implementation in the field in the final trimester. All students will complete 26 units of required core course work, plus four additional units of elective studies in an area of emphasis, which support their interests and future career plans. Emphasis areas include education, geriatric dentistry and pediatric dentistry. Courses in education will be offered through the Department of Dental Hygiene, while electives in geriatric dentistry and pediatric dentistry will be offered through existing graduate programs at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry. Students will learn program planning, advanced research methodology and statistical data management, and apply these skills into the design and implementation of their project as the basis for their scholarly capstone project. Students will demonstrate active learning through interactive classes, peer teaching, and the design and use of educational technology. Courses include traditional lecture, case studies, and student written and oral presentations.

Admission Requirements

All applicants to the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program must satisfy the following general criteria:

  • Successfully graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program in North America.
  • Possess a baccalaureate degree in dental hygiene or related area from an accredited university.
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Scores for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE);
  • Submit three letters of recommendation: one from the undergraduate dental hygiene director and the other two from individuals who can attest to general character. These letters maybe from professors, and/or an employer, a representative from a service organization, or from a respected member of the dental hygiene or dental profession.
  • Submit a career statement
  • Submit a current curriculum vitae

Applicants who meet these requirements will be invited to interview for the program. The interview may take place in person, by telephone, or through a live, interactive electronic communication.

Application Deadlines

In order to be reviewed, the application and required application materials must be received by the division’s admissions committee prior to February 15 for a fall semester start. Submit the application well in advance of the deadline and note that transcripts and other application materials may take three weeks or more to be processed by the Office of Admissions and then made available to the office. Applications received after February 15 are also welcome and will be processed on a space available basis.

Application Procedures

The ADEA Dental Hygiene Centralized Application Service (DHCAS) is the centralized application service for applicants to dental hygiene programs. Please review the instructions for the application at Applicants for the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene must select “Graduate” as the designation.

In order to begin the ADEA DHCAS application, every applicant will need an email address and a DentPin. The DentPin is a personal identification number used in place of the social security number. To receive a DentPin, visit the American Dental Association Website at

At the same time, applicants must apply and gain admission to the University of Southern California, which is granted in all cases by the USC Office of Admission. Applicants must apply online at at least three weeks before the departmental application deadline to allow adequate time for processing.

Be sure to complete the supplemental portion that relates to dental hygiene. Arrange to have transcripts and test scores sent to USC in time to meet this deadline.

Only a letter from the university Office of Admission grants official university admission.

Materials to Be Submitted by Applicants

Send official transcripts from all colleges attended and GRE test scores via USC’s ETS code (school code is 4852) to:

University of Southern California USC Office of Graduate Admission 3601 South Flower Street Room 112 Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

Supplemental Materials to be Submitted to:

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC Office of Admissions Room 201 925 W. 34th Street Los Angeles, CA 90089-0641

Supplemental Materials Include:

  • Three letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation must be in a sealed envelope with a signature across the back.
  • Career statement
  • Current résumé / curriculum vitae

Degree Requirements

Completion of the degree requires satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 credits of course work at the 500 level or above including a capstone project, which consists of a comprehensive written scholarly report suitable for publication and a defended oral presentation.

Required Courses Units
CBY 585 Systematic Research Writing 3
EDU 622 Educational Theory and Instructional Design 2
EDU 632 Technology in Higher Education 2
DHYG 501 Dental Hygiene Theory and Science I 3
DHYG 502 Dental Hygiene Seminar I 1
DHYG 504 Dental Hygiene Theory and Science II 3
DHYG 505 Dental Hygiene Seminar II 1
DHYG 506 Research Methodologies and Statistics 3
DHYG 507 Dental Hygiene Theory and Science III 3
DHYG 508 Dental Hygiene Seminar 1
DHYG 510 Capstone Project 4

Areas of Emphasis (must choose four units within one area)

DHYG 511 Classroom and Clinical Instruction Design 2
DHYG 512 Student Teaching 2
GDEN 713 Common Systemic Conditions in Older Patients 2
GDEN 714 Topics in Gerontology 2
GDEN 715 Geriatric Dentistry Issues 2
PEDO 704a Prevention in Pediatric Dentistry 2
PEDO 704b Prevention in Pediatric Dentistry 2
PEDO 705 Pediatric Diseases 2

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 on all graduate work is required.

Progressive Degree Program

Applicants for a progressive degree program must have completed 64 units of course work applicable to their undergraduate degree since graduating from high school. (AP units, IB units and course work taken prior to high school graduation are excluded.) Applicants must submit their application before completing 96 units of course work. Normally, the application is submitted in the fall semester of the third year of enrollment at USC. Applicants do not have to submit GRE scores but are expected to have at least a 3.0 GPA at the time of application. The application for admission to a progressive master’s program must be approved by the deans of the bachelor’s and the master’s degree-granting schools at USC and submitted to the Degree Progress Department. An approved course plan proposal and letters of recommendation from two USC faculty members must be submitted with the application, with at least one of the recommendations coming from a faculty member in the student’s bachelor’s degree major department.