As the night twinkles in on the marshy reeds of Southern Africa, a croak splits the murky silence every few seconds. To a human ear, it’s an innocuous murmur, but the creatures of the lake know better, the bullfrog is on the prowl, and it will feast on whatever moves against the wind. He is a voracious, blubbery creation of nature who knows that his nightly pangs of hunger won’t be satiated by a finicky lifestyle, so he makes the best of what nature offers.
Humans, on the other hand, are fastidious with so many of the choices they make. While this attribute is worth the salt in certain aspects of life, it also cuts off the sails of exploration in others. This is the world of alternatives!
Most dental aspirants in their pursuit of practicing dentistry in the States overlook enticing alternatives that would aid them in chasing after their coveted goal. Two such elusive alternatives are the Master’s program in Oral Biology and Oral Health Science.
Master’s Degree in Oral Health Sciences
The master’s program in oral health science is a research-intensive 1 to 2-year program offered by selected universities across the US.
This program trains students to gain expertise in the anatomy and function of oral and craniofacial structures. It also keeps the trainee abreast with modern research techniques and principles that will aid in arriving at diagnoses, chalking out a treatment plan, and preventing prevalent oral and craniofacial diseases.
The core curriculum includes the:
- Oral development and Pathobiology
- Dynamics of bone
- Pathology of pain
- Saliva and oral microbiome
- Oral biomaterials
- Research seminar in oral sciences
- Research design
- Statistical methods and research
Other requirements might include:
- Basic science
- Thesis/Capstone project
Requirements for Application
The Master’s programs offered by different universities in OHS have slight variations in the documents they seek, but the basic framework is the same.
These documents include
- A Statement of purpose, usually 1 to 2 pages long (500 to 1000 words)
- Curriculum vitae
- An English proficiency language test
- 2 to 3 Letters of Recommendation
- B average on a 4.0 GPA Scale
- Official transcripts from the institute you obtained your highest qualification of education from
# All applications are done through the official website of the institute. There is no common portal for application.
The Cost of Application and Tuition
The cost of the application ranges from $65 to $100.
Tuition costs vary between institutes and are also based on the duration of the course. Tuition costs range from anywhere between $35,000 to $45,000 per annum.
Consult the official website of the college to know their specific fee structure.
Universities Offering Course
- University of Buffalo
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- Penn State University
- Temple University
- University of Washington
- University of Illinois, Chicago (requires GRE as well)
#Most colleges encourage applications from international dentists as well as students from non-dental backgrounds interested in getting involved in oral health research. Iowa College of Dentistry requires prior enrollment in a clinical course before applying for a master’s. Moreover, Washington University seeks applications from students with prior laboratory working experience.
Master’s in Oral Biology
The Master’s program in Oral Biology is a 2-3 year research-oriented program that involves the study of oral tissues and the function of the mouth and craniofacial complex.
- Cell Biology
- Oral Microbiome and Immunology
- Sensory Neuroscience and Pain Mechanism
- Biomaterials, Biomechanics and Tissue Engineering
- Craniofacial developed and onto genesis
The requirements for an Oral Biology Master draw parallels with the Master in Oral Health Science. But in addition, it might also require a GRE score.
Universities Offering Course
Not requiring GRE
- University of Louisville
- The University of Minnesota ( Minnesota requires a Research Essay and a Diversity Statement, guidelines of which are provided on the website, along with an SoP, Letters of Recommendation, and a resumé).
Documentation and Visa
International applicants can apply for either an F1 or J1 student visa.
Applicants requesting an F1 visa will have to show documented evidence of the availability of funds to sponsor their expenses for the first year only and further indicate the source of funding for consequent years of study.
On the other hand, if a candidate requests a J1 visa, they are obligated to submit evidence of funds to cover their expenses for the entire duration of the program.
Here is an estimate of expenses if a student applies for an MS in oral health science at Michigan:
- Tuition and Fees for One Academic Year – $55,062
- Living Expenses (housing, food, utilities, transportation, personal items for 12 months) – $23,310
- Books and Supplies (fall and winter terms only) – $1,260
- Mandatory Health Insurance (12 months) – $2,517
- Total Estimated Expenses – $82,149
Why This Program?
If you have ever wondered looking into an open mouth and found yourself swimming in a wavy sea of questions looking for more “Whys” and “Hows”, this might just be the one for you. To duly elaborate on this, allow me to elucidate: the genesis and transformation of random observations and information into an organized and curated pattern, eternally deconstructed and rebuilt to create what we call a discipline or a subject relies assuredly on a vastly overlooked yet fundamentally simplistic concept of inquiring. The Master’s program offers students the opportunity to explore their curiosity when it comes to the very origins of ailments of the oral cavity. It encourages them to participate in discussions and projects which, in the future, will directly influence treatment plans and diagnostic patterns in clinicians. Thus, a clinician might treat one patient at a time but the impact of an Oral Biologist/ Health Scientist’s work transcends generations.
Once you have completed the program you can look forward to quite a few possibilities. These range from pursuing further dental education by enrolling in a dental school with enhanced research knowledge to gaining employment in a research laboratory in the field of oral health science or Oral Biology. Alternatively, a candidate who has found their calling in research science can also apply for a Ph.D. program to continue education in the same field. It also offers a diverse network of professionals to engage with on a daily basis and learn from their experiences.
While aspirants display tunnel vision when it comes to chasing their dental dream, many are unaware of opportunities and avenues that serenely complement their goals. But, there is a lesson to be learnt in the croak of the bullfrog, and if one is willing to widen their gaze, they would realise that the lake indeed has a lot to offer!