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Policies and Requirements

General policies, procedures, and requirements in place for dental postgraduate certificate programs apply to MDS degree students as well. Additional procedures, policies, and requirements that apply to students seeking a MDS degree are described in the CGHS Bylaws. Students are strongly encouraged to be familiar with all policies that apply to their training programs.

Graduate-level courses taken at other institutions for graduate credit, completed with a grade of B or better, and accepted by the student's clinical residency Program Director in the College of Dentistry, may be transferred into the student's UTHSC degree (MDS) program. While the final decision to permit credit transfer is made by the Program Director, consultation with didactic Course Directors, Faculty Research Committee members, and other College of Graduate Health Sciences Administrators, at the discretion of the Program Director, may be warranted. The total number of hours that may be transferred will be determined by the student's Program Director, but at least 50% of the credit hours for a MDS degree must be earned at UTHSC. Students seeking to transfer more than 1 semester's courses from another institution must do so in writing to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Graduate Health Sciences and the Associate Dean for Postgraduate Affairs in the College of Dentistry.

Official transcripts must be received directly by the Registrar from the previous institution(s) and appropriately authenticated before transfer of graduate credit will be approved. Credits transferred into the student's MDS program will not affect the minimum residency requirements and normally will not be included in calculations of the student's grade point average.

The student's Program Director must inform the Registrar in writing of non-UTHSC courses to be added to a student's transcript. The following information is required: (1) student name, (2) course name and number, (3) name of other institution, (4) whether the course is for credit only or for both credit and computing the student's GPA.

Students taking a course at an institution other than UTHSC must (1) request that an official transcript be sent from the institution where the course was taken to the UTHSC Registrar upon completing the course and (2) notify the Registrar that a transcript is being sent.

  • Program Chair – The Program Chair (Sidney H. Stein, DMD, PhD) of the MDS Program is the general advisor for all MDS students in the College of Dentistry.
  • Program Director – The student's clinical Program Director (i.e., the clinical director of the student's dental residency program) advises students regarding courses, research, and performance.
  • Faculty Research Committee – The Faculty Research Committee (or Faculty Committee) is a group of individuals gathered to collaborate with the student throughout the course of the MDS research project.
  • Faculty Research Advisor – A single member of the Faculty Committee (formally titled the Faculty Research Advisor) will serve as Chair of the student's Faculty Committee. The Faculty Research Advisor is considered the principal advisor to the student for all aspects of the research and reporting effort. This individual must be qualified by the CGHS to serve in this position. "Faculty Research Advisor" is synonymous with "Faculty Committee Chair."

A student enrolled in the MDS Program must develop a Faculty Research Committee. No later than the end of the first academic year of study, the student's clinical Program Director, in consultation with the student and the Faculty Research Advisor, will identify a Faculty Research Committee. This committee will minimally consist of three members from the Graduate Faculty; at least two members must belong to the student's department and one member should be from a different department. Additional committee membership is not restricted and may include persons outside the UTHSC possessing unique and helpful qualifications.

Once the Faculty Research Committee is appointed, the Student Committee Appointment Form must be completed, signed by the Program Chair (Sidney H. Stein, DMD, PhD) and submitted to the Dean of the CGHS. It is then the responsibility of the Faculty Research Advisor to convene the committee, at intervals no less than once per year, in order to assist the student's research progress. The Faculty Research Committee must prepare an Annual Student Progress Report for the Program Chair (Sidney H. Stein, DMD, PhD) and Dean of the CGHS. This progress report must at least be completed within the first and second academic years. Completion of the Application for Admission to Candidacy serves as the final report of student progress, which is typically submitted in the third academic year.

On occasion, ownership of research findings comes into question because many individuals, in addition to the MDS student, are involved in the research effort. There is need to properly acknowledge contributions of the student, the faculty advisors, and in some circumstances special additional assistance provided by others in the scientific effort. Additionally, the work should be made available to the scientific community at-large in a timely fashion. To satisfy these considerations, the College of Dentistry (with support of the College of Graduate Health Sciences) has adopted the following policy regarding the MDS effort.

For a manuscript resulting from MDS project, the MDS student has first right to the creative material produced and first authorship on the manuscript. The student must produce the manuscript with only supervisory input from advisory sources. The student should acknowledge contributors to the research effort in an appropriate manner. Upon manuscript submission for publication, if the student fails timely participation in the normal course of review/revision, the student loses the right of first authorship and the manuscript may continue in the editorial process under first authorship of others associated with the research project. In any case, the student's name will remain associated with the manuscript, and a copy of the manuscript will be sent to the student for editorial commentary with each subsequent revision. The Faculty Research Committee and the student's Department, with the student's knowledge and listing the student as first author, may submit abstracts to professional journals and meetings, based on the MDS research.

Students should be aware that this policy applies only to the UTHSC College of Dentistry. If non-college faculty members are involved in the MDS project, then the rights to publication must be determined at the first meeting of the Faculty Research Committee.

Similarly, when the research is made possible by grant funds where the student is not the principal investigator, there needs to be a clear agreement regarding publication (specific journals, order of authorship, submission timing, etc.) and possession of the data (measurements, radiographs, slides, digital images, etc.). Unless unusual circumstances prevail, these materials are the property of, and are expected to be retained by, the principal investigator of the grant.

Generally, dental postgraduate programs in Endodontics, Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics, and Prosthodontics involve: (1) rigorous clinical training in the UTHSC College of Dentistry leading to a dental specialty certificate, and (2) clinically valuable scientific research in the UTHSC College of Graduate Health Sciences leading to a MDS degree. For residents enrolled in these programs, successful completion and graduation necessitates fulfillment of requirements specified by the College of Dentistry and the College of Graduate Health Sciences. Upon satisfactory completion of all requirements, the awarding of a dental specialty certificate and a MDS degree are inter-dependent and occur simultaneously at the end of the formal educational experience.

If circumstances necessitate deviation from the normal educational process and the typical awarding of certificate and degree, the resident's clinical Program Director must petition the Associate Dean of Postgraduate Affairs, in the College of Dentistry, for a Waiver of Routine Resident Progress to Completion. This request must document, in detail the rationale for special consideration, the resident's existing circumstances, the need to deviate from the norm, expected timing of residency completion, expected timing of research program completion, anticipated graduation dates from the College of Dentistry and the College of Graduate Health Sciences, and any additional information pertinent to the situation.

Once the Waiver of Routine Resident Progress to Completion is accepted by the Associate Dean of Postgraduate Affairs as sufficiently detailed, consultation with other interested parties may be necessary (e.g., resident in question, clinical Program Director, Department Chair, Faculty Research Advisor, Faculty Research Committee, MDS Program Chair, Dean of the College of Dentistry, Dean of the College of Graduate Health Sciences, etc.). The Associate Dean of Postgraduate Affairs will consider all available information, determine the legitimacy and timing of the requested waiver, and inform all parties affected by the waiver regarding the decision moving forward.

Academic Due Process: If a Waiver of Routine Progress to Completion is initiated but denied, a written request to appeal this decision may be submitted to the office of the Dean in the College of Dentistry. The request must be submitted within 5 working days of receipt of the original notification. A committee will be developed by the Dean in the College of Dentistry, with collaboration of the Dean in the College of Graduate Health Sciences, and will gather to address the appeal process. The appeal hearing will be promptly scheduled, permitting reasonable time for preparation. At the appeal hearing, all parties will have the opportunity to present pertinent documentation and testimony, which may include statements by, and questioning of, other involved individuals. Any person(s), excluding legal counsel, may appear before the committee to contribute to the process. Conduct of committee proceedings and the appeal hearing will occur without legal counsel present. Result of the appeal hearing will be communicated in writing to all interested parties within 5 working days of the hearing, excluding holidays and administrative closings. Decisions of this committee are final.

May 26, 2022