Dental Public Health

The goal of the Advanced Graduate Education Program in Dental Public Health is to improve the oral health of populations by educating dental public health specialists. Graduates of the program will develop competencies to:

  • Conduct research in dental public health with emphasis on disease surveillance, health services research, program evaluation, causes of oral diseases, and systemic/oral health interactions.
  • Improve access to dental care for underserved populations and the quality of care for all populations.
  • Plan, implement, and evaluate community oral health programs.
  • Increase the use of preventive dentistry and interdisciplinary models in dental care delivery systems.
  • Excel in research, academic, and administrative careers in Dental Public Health.
  • Inform other dental providers and students about the practice of delivering and planning for oral health care for communities.

Programs Offered

The Dental Public Health Residency (Certificate) is a two-year program qualifying graduates to take the American Board of Dental Public Health specialty examination. Residents work in the four knowledge areas of the specialty which include:

  • Epidemiology and research methods
  • Social determinants of health and dental public health practice
  • Program administration and health policy
  • Oral health services delivery systems and dental care financing

​​​​​​​The residency is often combined with advanced degree programs offered at Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM). There are three advanced education programs offered in Dental Public Health (DPH):

MMSc Program: This track leads to a Master of Medical Sciences (MMSc) degree in Oral Biology or a Master of Medical Sciences in Dental Education with a certificate in Dental Public Health awarded concurrently with the Faculty of Medicine of Harvard University upon successful completion of all requirements. This track is suitable for dentists without a MPH degree seeking to obtain a DPH certificate and qualify for the specialty board exam. This program requires a minimum of three years of study. For MMSc in Dental Education, please see https://hsdm.harvard.edu/mmsc-dental-education​​​​​​​.

DMSc Program: This track leads to a Doctor of Medical Sciences degree in Oral Biology with a certificate in Dental Public Health awarded by the Faculty of Medicine of Harvard University and requires a minimum of four years of study. The course requirements and the depth of the research experience are substantially greater for DMSc candidates -- the degree is consistent with the expectations for a Harvard doctoral-level degree. Dentists in this track obtain the DPH certificate and are qualified to take the specialty board exam. This is an excellent option for dentists whose primary aim is to pursue a career in academics or research.

Certificate Program: This is a two-year program for dentists with an accredited master’s degree in public health (MPH) or equivalent degree.

Program Overview

Candidates for the Dental Public Health DMSc, MMSc, or Certificate programs must hold a DDS, DMD, or the equivalent, such as a BDS.

For the degree-granting tracks, the first year consists of formal courses in the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, completing the requirements for the degree, as well as core public health courses.

The second year for MMSc and  DMSc and the first year for Certificate candidates consist of a supervised DPH residency emphasizing experiences at the community, state, or national level in health policy and program administration. The relationship between research data and health policy is emphasized. This residency meets the requirements of the American Board of Dental Public Health and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Dental Education of the American Dental Association.

The third year for MMSc / DMSc and second for Certificate candidates is a continuation of the residency and focuses on public health research at HSDM linking with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The Forsyth Institute, and other departments of Harvard University. A major research project is required under the guidance of a faculty mentor. For the DMSc candidates, the research component requires a qualifying exam, appointment of a thesis committee, and a doctoral thesis and defense, which occurs in the fourth year of the DMSc curriculum.

Dental Public Health Advanced Education Graduate students take courses and work predominantly with the resources and faculty of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Kennedy School of Government, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, The Forsyth Institute, and Cambridge Health Alliance.

Residency requirements are (at minimum):

  • One major and one minor completed and written research projects
  • One administrative project
  • Specific courses in research methods, leadership, and global oral health
  • American Board of Dental Public Health written examination

Please visit AGE Admissions for application requirements.