Ph.D. students are expected to enroll as full-time graduate students. Initially students take formal course work and become familiar with current research topics through seminars, discussion groups and lectures by distinguished scientists. Students will also rotate through a minimum of three research laboratories to decide their preferred laboratory and dissertation research. Once a match has been made between the student and the faculty advisor they will begin their dissertation research.

The total number of credit hours required for graduation will vary depending upon the qualifications of the student on entering the program, the nature of research being conducted or in the funding status of the student. Further information can be found in the graduate bulletin. Many students often end up taking more than the minimum number of hours required for their degree program.

Professional Development

Students will get experience in writing and submitting NIH personal fellowships. They will give an annual oral presentation in our Research in Progress lunchtime series and a poster presentation at our annual research day. In addition, all students will attend at least one national conference to present their work. 

We offer an individually tailored Research Skills and Career Development course. Working with your research mentor you will complete myIDP, an online tool to help you identify future career options. You will then work with the course director to access and develop skills that you may need to pursue your career. 

We offer two personal development fellowships and one research day award that you can use to further your career. These can be used to attend workshops, professional courses or conferences. 

Students can also avail themselves of the many professional development opportunities offered by the VCU Graduate School  and have the option of enrolling in the Broadening Experiences for Scientific Training Program to explore their career options. Students interested in an academic career can enroll in the Preparing Future Faculty Program.

Required courses

OVPR 601

Scientific Integrity

1 credit

BIOC 530

Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology

2 credits

BIOC 531

Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology

1 credit

BIOC 532

Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology

1 credit

BIOC 533

Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology

1 credit

BIOC 543

Statistical Methods I

3 credits

MICR 653

AMG: Bioinformatics

3 credits


Core courses

OCMB 701

An Introduction to Oral Biology

2 credits

OCMB 702

An Introduction to Oral Pathogenesis

2 credits

OCMB 703

Research Topics in Oral Biology

1 credit

OCMB 704

Oral Biology Seminar Series

1 credit

To be taken for up to 8 credits

OCMB 706

Proposal Preparation

1 credit

OCMB 707

Research Skills and Career Development

1 credit


Students must also complete 8 elective credits.  Students will work with their advisors to select the most appropriate electives for their research and career aspirations.

Research requirements

OCMB 705

Oral Biology Directed Research

1-15 credits

To be taken repeatedly to fulfill the research requirements of the Ph.D.

Further details can be found in the graduate bulletin.