UW School of Dentistry

Graduate Program

The University of Washington offers advanced education which can lead to a Certificate of Proficiency in Periodontics, to a joint certificate and MSD degree, or to the PhD degree.

The course of study is designed to produce a skilled clinician who knows the literature in the field and has developed a strong background in relevant basic phenomena. To accomplish these objectives in the available time, a serious effort by dedicated students is required. Although not mandatory, it is to the candidate’s advantage to have had some general practice experience prior to enrolling in the graduate periodontics program. The clinical sector in periodontics is traditionally a well-developed area in this school.

Certificate Program

The Certificate Program is designed for those individuals interested only in a career in private practice. Students wanting only the Certificate of Proficiency, which makes them eligible for Specialty Board examination, will need to perform satisfactorily in the courses listed in the University General Catalog. These courses provide a useful background to the periodontics specialist. The level of the supporting coursework is sophisticated enough for a student to make use of the literature in the field and move with strength into a clinical teaching position. Graduates also should be able to participate in clinical research. The coursework may vary with the interests and objectives of the student.

Certificate plus MSD

Students who are candidates for the MSD degree must complete all clinical course work to the same level of expertise expected of the certificate student. In addition, they must design and conduct a research project in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the MSD It is expected that such research efforts will lead to one or more papers of publishable quality. Additional supporting coursework chosen by their research preceptors may be needed. Individuals interested in pursuing such a combined program are particularly encouraged to apply to the University of Washington.

Certificate plus PhD

Applicants interested in the PhD have a number of options to receive this degree. The School of Dentistry offers a PhD in Oral Biology that may be pursued concurrently or independently with certificate training in periodontics. In addition, a PhD may be obtained in various basic science departments (see the University of Washington General Catalog which describes these programs). Individuals interested in a PhD in a basic science must make application to the department in which the degree will be obtained as well as to the Department of Periodontics for their clinical training.

Program Length

The minimum program length for certificate students is twelve full-time academic quarters (three academic years). The Department reserves the right to extend the program length for any student who exhibits inadequate academic/clinical performance. This extension will be made without prejudice. Students working for the Certificate and MSD degree must also attend a minimum of 36 months. The length of PhD plus Certificate programs is variable. The periodontal training component remains three academic years, but the time required for the PhD may vary with the department sponsoring the degree. Some financial help is available for MSD students, and all research costs are covered by the Department of Periodontics. Most PhD programs are partially or fully supported by the sponsoring department.


Interviews are required for admission. The University of Washington Periodontics Program uses a selective interview process. After the application process deadline on August 1st, the Departmental Selection Committee will meet and review the records of all applicants. Based on the applicants’ credentials, a group of candidates will be invited to come to Seattle for an interview. Please review our Prospective Students page for a more complete explanation of our application procedures.