PhD Program in Oral and Experimental Pathology

ODS PhD candidates

‌The University of Maryland's Oral Pathology program is a fully accredited specialty training and graduate school experience that is four to five years in length. It leads to a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Oral Pathology. During the first two years, the students participate in didactic courses in the basic and clinical sciences, get introduced to the department's clinical practice and research endeavors, and function as residents in surgical pathology at the Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences. The remaining two years include mastery of surgical oral pathology and research leading to a PhD dissertation.

The University of Maryland campus is in Baltimore's spectacular Inner Harbor district, directly adjacent to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The campus includes the University of Maryland Medical System Hospital and world famous Shock Trauma Center. The new Baltimore Veterans Administration Medical Center is adjacent to the campus, as are various clinical and research institutes. The hospitals have a combined capacity of about 1,000 beds. The campus also includes the University's School of Dentistry, Graduate School, and Schools of Medicine, Law, Social Work, Nursing and Pharmacy.

The Baltimore area offers an abundance of affordable apartments, condominiums, and homes. The city offers many cultural, athletic, historic, and other leisure events. The city is also a short distance from Washington, D.C. Areas for hunting, fishing, hiking, and boating are plentiful. Residents are provided tickets for certain Orioles baseball games at no cost.


The PhD program of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences in the School of Dentistry provides broad training in oral and experimental pathology that qualifies candidates for the AAOMP Fellowship exam as well as the ABOMP exam. Students admitted to the program have obtained at least a bachelor or doctorate dental degree. Students should complete the requirements for admission to candidacy for the PhD by the end of the third year and obtain their PhD about one to two years later. Students entering with less preparation may need additional course work.

The program is administered by the Graduate Program Director and a Graduate Program Committee selected by the departmental faculty. The Graduate Program Director administers the program, oversees record keeping, and also serves as a full member of the committee. The duties of the committee are to review student applications to the program, to propose policies, to help administer the program, and to report to the department faculty.




Students admitted to the Ph.D. program generally have a strong undergraduate background in the biological sciences, and chemistry. Applicants lacking prerequisites will be required to correct these deficiencies by enrolling in undergraduate level courses.

Grades and the Graduate Record Examination

Minimum standards for admission to graduate programs at the University of Maryland are specified in the Graduate School catalog. The department requires an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a scale of 4.0, and grades of A or B in science courses are expected. Applicants should take the Graduate Record Examination. NBDE I & II are recommended.

International  Students

Students who meet the entry requirements and who hold degrees from foreign colleges or universities must pass the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) as a test of their proficiency in English. A supplementary course in English may be recommended for some students.

Foreign students eligible for admission must comply with all requirements of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The Director of the Office of Admissions and Registrations has available forms required for obtaining the appropriate visa. Students already studying in the United States who wish to transfer to the University of Maryland must secure proper documents to obtain permission for transfer. A statement regarding the applicant’s financial support is required by the Office of Admissions and Registrations.

Financial support

Evidence of governmental financial support is recommended for international candidates. Federal fund is available for US citizens and residents. Other financial support resources may be provided depending on availability.

After receipt of a completed application, the Graduate Program Committee may invite applicants for an interview to discuss their career goals and research interests.


Advisory Committee for Incoming Students

Each new student will be assigned to a Faculty Advisory Committee until he or she has selected a Dissertation Advisor. The committee will be made up of three faculty members who are chosen by the Graduate Program Committee and who represent a range of research interests. The Advisory Committee will help the student prepare a tentative doctoral program, will advise the student and recommend for faculty approval of a Dissertation Advisor, and will provide continuing evaluation of the student’s progress. This committee will be replaced by the Dissertation Advisor when one is selected.

At the end of the academic year, the Advisory Committee will meet with the student to discuss his or her strengths and weaknesses and to help the student evaluate his or her goals and direction.

Dissertation Advisor & Dissertation Committee

Selection of a Dissertation Advisor by the student generally occurs at the end of the first year of study and is subject to review by the departmental faculty. The Dissertation Advisor must be a member of the Graduate Faculty who is publishing in the area of the proposed dissertation research. In addition to supervising the dissertation research, he or she will help the student form a Dissertation Committee and will serve as its chair.

The Dissertation Committee consists of at least three members of the Graduate Faculty, including the Dissertation Advisor, and must be approved by the departmental faculty. This group replaces the initial Advisory Committee. It assumes responsibility for monitoring the student’s progress and finally for deciding when the dissertation is ready for defense. The Dissertation Committee will meet with student at least twice a year to discuss the student’s progress.


With few exceptions, all students enrolled in the Ph.D. program must take the following:

1. GPLS 601, "The Core Course" Molecular Mechanisms in Biomedical Sciences (8 credits).

2. DPAT 618 Seminar (1 credit)

This is required each semester; students are expected to attend departmental seminars and to present a research seminar twice yearly. Beginning students who do not yet have a research project are expected to report on a current literature survey of a topic of their choice.

3. DPAT 899 Doctoral Dissertation Research (1-12 credits)

A total of 12 hours of dissertation research is required by the Graduate School.

3. The student will also do rotations of approximately 8 - 12 weeks in faculty research laboratories. First year students select the laboratories in which they will work after consulting the departmental file on opportunities and their Advisory Committee. Additional laboratory rotations may be done at the student’s option.

In addition, a student is required to take the following:

  • DPAT 612 Special Problems in Oral Pathology (2 credits)
  • DPAT 613 Special Problems in Oral Pathology (2 credits)
  • DPAT 616 Advanced Histopathology of Oral Lesions (3 credits)
  • DPAT 617 Advanced Histopathology of Oral Lesions (3 credits)
  • PATH 751 clinical Pathology (3 credits)
  • PATH 602 Systemic Pathology (3 credits)
  • PATH 608 Autopsy Pathology (Required for American Board of Oral Path) (3 credits)
  • PATH 609 Surgical Pathology (Required for American Board of Oral Path) (3 credits)


Students will be expected to have basic knowledge of Cell Biology, Biostatistics, and computer usage in addition to the above subject areas. Students must take at least 38 credit hours of course work beyond the 12 required credits of Dissertation Research. Courses covering areas of special interest will be selected by the student in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, the Advisory Committee or Dissertation Advisor.

Students are expected to earn grades of B or better in all courses. Those who fail to maintain a B average are subject to the rules of the Graduate School, which are published in the Graduate School catalog.

There is no foreign language requirement.

Oral pathology residents are expected to serve as consultants for the oral medicine clinic as well as other speciality clinics. Regular participation in the oral pathology service, the tumor boards and the slide seminar is a requirment for the Oral and Maxillofacial speciallity training. A mock board exam shall be conducted by the mid of the third year.


Admission to candidacy requires meeting the criteria listed above, generally during the third year. It must be within five years after admission to the doctoral program and be at least two full sequential semesters (Spring, Summer, or Fall) before the date on which the degree will be conferred. Students must complete all of the program requirements for the degree within four years after admission to candidacy.


Prior to admission to candidacy, all course requirements will have been fulfilled.

Preliminary Examination

Competence will be judged on the basis of the Preliminary Examination. This is designed to test the student’s mastery of a broad field of knowledge including the integration of his or her course work with his or her research area.

The examination usually consists of at least two parts: a written research proposal (NIH format, without budget) based on the student’s proposed dissertation research, and a comprehensive written examination held at least two weeks later. It may also involve an oral presentation briefly summarizing the proposal and questions from the Preliminary Committee. The questions may cover any areas and will probe the student’s basic knowledge as well as specific points of the proposal.

In the unlikely event that a student’s knowledge of one or more relevant subject areas is perceived by the faculty to be less than that reflected by the student’s grade point average, the student may be required to take an examination covering the area(s) in question. The final decision on the format will rest with the Graduate Faculty, in consultation with the Graduate Program Committee.

The Preliminary Committee will consist of five members, at least one of whom shall not be affiliated formally with the department (either as a regular or joint appointee). The Dissertation Advisor may not serve on this committee. Committee members are suggested by the student and must be approved by the faculty. The committee members are the only faculty present at the examination and they alone are responsible for evaluating it.

Three grades are possible: Pass, Pass with conditions, and Fail. At least three of the five Examining Committee Members must approve a passing grade.




Upon completion of the dissertation research, a student shall ‘present his or her results in the form of a dissertation. This should consist of manuscripts of publishable quality of which the student is first author plus an introduction and discussion; additional material may be included in an Appendix. The dissertation should be prepared in accordance with the guidelines published in the latest edition of the “University of Maryland Thesis Manual”. A Ph.D. student is expected to publish (or receive acceptance for publication of) a significant part of his/her Ph.D. dissertation findings in peer-reviewed journals of the corresponding field of research before graduation

Dissertation Defense

At least seven months before the final presentation of the dissertation, the student should notify the Graduate Program Director in writing of his or her intention to defend the dissertation. The application should nominate persons in addition to the Dissertation Committee if necessary to form a Final Doctoral Examining Committee of at least five members. The composition of the Examining Committee must be approved by the departmental faculty and then by the Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies and Research a minimum of six months prior to the final examination. All members must be regular members of the Graduate Faculty. At least one member of the final committee must be from outside the Department. One member of the Examining Committee is designated by the Vice Chancellor as his or her representative; this person assures that the examination is conducted properly and settles intra-committee disagreements over examination procedures. The Examining Committee is chaired by the Dissertation Advisor, who also determines the time and place of the defense.

The dissertation defense may be held no earlier than two weeks after the Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies and Research has approved the Examining Committee. He or she is required to notify all members of the Graduate Faculty at least two weeks before each examination.

The format of the examination is an open seminar, with questions permitted from anyone present. After the seminar, the Examining Committee will meet privately to evaluate the student; additional questions may be asked of the student at this time. Final approval of the dissertation will rest with the Examining Committee. Votes in favor of passing by four committee members (regardless of the number on the Committee) constitutes approval of the dissertation.

A student may attempt to defend a dissertation no more than twice.


Application Process:

Program: Oral and Experimental Pathology PhD Program

Requirements and appplicatuon documents:

  1. Must be a graduate of a dental school approved by the American Dental Association.
  2. International applicants need to provide educational credential evaluation documents. As well as a TOEFL score of more than 80%.
  3. Original dental school transcripts including the GPA (GPA of 3.5 or above is accepted. If less than 3, NBDE I& II are required)
  4. Curriculum vita
  5. Personal statement
  6. Three recommendation letters
  7. Evidence of financial support


You must submit an application to the Graduate School.  The application form is available online in the Graduate School website.


Submit a hard copy of the application documents to the program director:

Rania H. Younis, B.D.S., M.D.S., Ph.D.

650 W Baltimore St. 7th floor North #7257

Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences

School of dentistry, University of Maryland Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland, 21201


GRE and TOEFL Score reporting: Indicate Institution Code #5848

Application Deadline:* Rolling Admission

Maryland Application Fee:  $75

Selection Process:  Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences Selection Committee