Oral Sciences, MS

This unique program caters to individuals interested in various scientific and research aspects of oral and craniofacial biology.   Students in the program may be traditional bachelor’s graduates, dentists enrolled in clinical specialties, or individuals interested in enhancing their application to professional school.

FALL 2025 ENROLLMENT  |  Applications accepted June 1, 2024 - April 1, 2025

Photo of Dr. De Nardin.

Program Director:
Ernesto De Nardin, PhD

Oral Biology Department, School of Dental Medicine | Room 511 BRB
Microbiology and Immunology Department, Jacobs School of Medicine 

About the Program Admission Requirements How to Apply Faculty and Curriculum Cost and Funding

About the Program

The Oral Sciences graduate program is an academic, research-oriented program that leads to the Master of Science (MS) degree.  The overall goal is to provide background, expertise and current concepts of basic sciences as related to dental research in oral and craniofacial biology. 

Students may consider the tracks described below. 

  • Traditional Masters program | Students may enroll exclusively in the Oral Sciences Masters of Science program. 
  • Dual-Enrollment  |  Students in the program may pursue dual-enrollment in a clinical specialty program and complete the masters program in conjunction with their advanced certificate program.  The dual-enrollment option is available for trained dentists.  A separate application is required for each program of interest.
  • Enhanced pre-professional curriculum track  |  This track is available to students and is primarily for non-dentists who wish to apply to professional school (e.g. dental school) after completion of the MS program.  The enhanced curriculum allows students in good standing to enroll in a limited number of basic science dental school courses.  NOTE: The track is not intended for applicants who already hold a DDS, BDS, or equivalent Doctoral Dental degree, and/or who are applying to a clinical specialty program; clinical applicants will not be considered for the enhanced curriculum track except under extraordinary conditions by contacting the program director.
  • 5-year MS/DDS track  |  This unique option is available to prospective students with an active DDS waitlist offer.  The opportunity is designed for individuals with an interest in research.  Candidates must be on the current DDS waitlist and submit an application to the MS program to be considered.  Students are accepted to the MS program with a provisional acceptance to the DDS program.  During the first year, students enroll in a limited number of basic science dental school courses alongside the master's courses. The following year, individuals begin the DDS program as first-year dental students provided that they satisfy certain minimum academic requirements.  Students continue research over the summer and finish the MS research component during their second year of studies.  Dental school course enrollments from the first year are waived during year two, freeing up time during the academic year for students to complete the master's thesis.


Length of Study

Most students complete the program within two academic years, and begin their thesis research tasks during the intervening summer. The first year of this program starts in August. Dual enrolled students follow the start date of their clinical program.

Oral Sciences FAQ's

Is the Oral Sciences Program limited to applicants with a DDS/DMD/BDS degree?

  • No.  Applicants with a traditional bachelor's degree are welcome to apply.  While some applicants hold advanced dental degrees, they are usually interested in simultaneous enrollment in the MS program while pursuing a certificate of advanced dental study. 

How long does the program take?

  • Time to degree usually takes about two years for a student exclusively enrolled in the MS program.   Clinical residents, however, who are simultaneously enrolled in the MS program usually need three years because of their clinical obligations.

Does the Program require the GRE?

  • No, the GRE is not an application requirement.

What are the minimum requirements to apply to the program?

  • An undergraduate bachelor's degree by the time of enrollment is required of all applicants.  The University's Graduate School also requires a minimum overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 for matriculation into graduate programs.  In exceptional circumstances, the Graduate School may allow a GPA slightly below a 3.0; but this is rare and only granted under extraordinary conditions.  A competitive academic record is an important factor in the selection process, with evidence of strong performance in science courses. 

Will the Master Program in Oral Sciences help me get an acceptance to Dental School?

  • The MS program and the DDS program are independent programs.   There is no assurance that completing the MS program will guarantee acceptance in the DDS program.  Our Oral Sciences program, however, may help candidates become more competitive for professional school due to the nature and focus of the curriculum.  Indeed, many of our graduates have continued on to dental school at UB and elsewhere.  In addition, certain tracks in the MS program allow students to enroll in some of the dental school basic sciences courses (which are also open to graduate students).   These courses would be waived in the first year of dental school, should one of our MS students be accepted into the DDS program.

Will the Master Program provide any clinical training?

  • No. The Oral Sciences Program is an academic research-oriented graduate program; enrollment implies a commitment to learn about and to engage in research.  This means that the didactic curriculum of the MS program in Oral Sciences may not necessarily be directly related to a clinical setting.  Rather, the overall design of the program is to provide background, expertise and current concepts of basic sciences as related to dental research and oral biology. Research projects may be involved in clinical studies.  The overall scope of the research project, however, concentrates on research design, experimental methods, and basic science.

What are the areas of research that the program provides?

  • Being a multidisciplinary program, research areas are numerous and varied. Some examples are: immunology and host response; microbiology; biochemistry; salivary-bacterial interactions; biofilms; bone physiology; autoimmunity; physiology of pain; temporomandibular disorders; epidemiological studies; biomaterials; and lasers.

How soon can I start my research project?

  • There is no fixed for deadline. Traditionally, students connect with potential research mentors after the first semester of classes.  However, if a student has agreed to start with a research mentor right from the beginning, this is a possibility.

Will the Program provide financial assistance?

  • No. The Oral Sciences Program does not provide funds for student financial support via stipends, fellowships, assistantships, tuition waivers, or any other form of support.