Finding a dual degree program for doctoral status in dentistry will be easier when searching for DDS/PhD programs. A DDS award is exactly the same as a DMD title. The requirements for earning both titles are strict and rigorous, but you'll come out of the program with a very exclusive qualification.
What is a DMD/PhD Dual Degree Program?
A DMD/PhD program combines research and clinical expertise to give you a double doctorate by the time you graduate. The PhD will come from an area such as oral health science, while the DMD refers directly to practicing dentistry. You will spend at least seven years studying for your dissertation defense while also following a track similar to medical sciences. These programs are extremely selective; most schools only admit one or two students to dual degree programs each year. Typically, you will initially focus on the PhD, dedicating around three years to PhD courses, research, and a dissertation. You will spend the remaining time continuing your dissertation research and on the DMD/DDS, studying the clinical aspects of dentistry that will eventually qualify you to work as a dentist.
What Can I Expect During a DMD/PhD Dual Degree Program?
As you begin the program, you'll focus on various PhD courses. You can also expect to participate in activities such as your cohort's journal club, as well as a seminar series where discussion and analysis are both critical to your progression throughout doctoral studies. Your exposure to DDS courses will typically start near the end of the third year, with proper DDS courses beginning by the time you have started the second half of your studies. At the same time, you will participate in clinical dentistry, where you will get the hands-on experience you need with the help of established faculty members and practicing dentists. You'll also pick a dissertation advisor near the start of your clinical period. By the time you have completed your clinical period, you will have enough research material to prepare a dissertation defense.
Admissions Requirements for DMD/PhD Dual Degree Programs
An undergraduate degree in health sciences is highly recommended, although you might be able to use a degree from another field as long as you have some experience in areas such as organic chemistry, physics, or biochemistry. You should secure several letters of recommendation from instructors who are familiar with your work in research and lab experience. Make sure that your official transcripts are up to date and submitted directly from each school you have attended. Your GPA as an undergraduate will factor into an application decision; some schools request a minimum of 3.2 in previous coursework. A score of 17 on the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) is also recommended as a baseline for admission into a DMD/PhD program. Some schools may look for candidates with healthcare-related community service hours as well as shadowing experiences at multiple medical offices.
Dual degrees in dentistry that grant a PhD and DMD are available but very selective. Do your best to prepare with a background in the field before applying, and ensure that you have a specific research area in mind when pitching yourself to the dual program.