Jun 26, 2022  
USC Catalogue 2021-2022 
USC Catalogue 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Craniofacial Biology

Return to: Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC  

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
DEN 218
(213) 740-1001 
FAX: (213) 740-2376


Craniofacial biology is concerned with the evolution, growth, structure and function of oral tissues and the oral region; and with the etiology and pathogenesis of numerous diseases and malformations. These involve studies at various levels of biological organization, from the molecular and subcellular to the organismic. Craniofacial biology comprises a large, rapidly increasing body of knowledge that has both clinical and academic importance. The objective of the program is primarily, but not exclusively, to prepare health science graduates for entry into careers in academic environments as clinical scholars or as members of multidisciplinary teams of health professionals in academic centers of clinical and basic health science research.

Admission Requirements

The graduate program in Craniofacial Biology (CBY) offers academic graduate training to individuals with a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Medical Doctor (MD) or equivalent degree. Applicants with Bachelor of Science degrees in areas such as biology and chemistry are also encouraged to apply.

All applications are evaluated individually in search of the most promising students in terms of intellectual distinction and professional merit in the sciences and/or dentistry. Beyond this, the committee looks for academic trends, documented potential and evidence of good character. Priority consideration for admission is given to applications that are complete by December 1.


Formal application to the USC Office of Graduate Admission and the graduate program in Craniofacial Biology (CBY) is required for Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) objectives. The Craniofacial Biology graduate programs are administered by the USC Graduate School whose catalogue provides additional information about specific application requirements and courses that must be completed in order to graduate. The CBY MS program is offered only as a terminal degree option for individuals already enrolled in the CBY PhD program, and have elected to change majors from a PhD to a MS. 

Requirements for PhD applications include:

  • Statement of purpose.
  • Three letters of recommendation describing academic abilities, personal attributes and research (if applicable).
  • Original postsecondary transcripts from all schools attended.
  • A grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, and grades of A or B in science courses.
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) general test scores no older than five years.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for all applicants whose native language is not English to test their ability to use and understand English in an academic setting. Official scores must be received directly from the testing service and date no earlier than two years (24 months) prior to the start of the intended first term at USC.
  • Personal interviews may be required.

The Doctor of Philosophy requires a minimum GRE verbal score of 60 percent rank and quantitative score of 60 percent rank. For non-native English speakers, a minimum combined TOEFL score of 100 is required with no less than 20 on each section (reading, listening, speaking and writing). Many accepted students score higher than the minimum requirement.

Progressive Degree Program

Applicants for a progressive degree program must have completed 64 units of course work applicable to their undergraduate degree since graduating from high school. (AP units, IB units and course work taken prior to high school graduation are excluded.) Applicants must submit their application before completing 96 units of course work. Normally, the application is submitted in the fall semester of the third year of enrollment at USC. Applicants do not have to submit GRE scores but are expected to have at least a 3.0 GPA at the time of application. The application for admission to a progressive master’s program must be approved by the deans of the bachelor’s and the master’s degree-granting schools at USC and submitted to the Degree Progress Department. An approved course plan proposal and letters of recommendation from two USC faculty members must be submitted with the application, with at least one of the recommendations coming from a faculty member in the student’s bachelor’s degree major department.


Master’s Degree

Graduate Certificate

Doctoral Degree