HOUSTON – UTHealth School of Dentistry has become the first dental school in Texas to offer its students the option to concurrently earn a master’s degree in public health and their doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.) or bachelor of science in dental hygiene (B.S.D.H.). Students also have the option of to earn a certificate in public health. The new dual degree programs are a partnership between the School of Dentistry and UTHealth School of Public Health.
The D.D.S./M.P.H. program begins this fall and the B.S.D.H./M.P.H. program will launch in 2018. To be eligible, students must first be accepted to the School of Dentistry.
“Our focus is to get more opportunities for our students,” said Ana Neumann, D.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., director of dental public health at the School of Dentistry. “Someone who graduates from our school and has a D.D.S./M.P.H. will be very competitive. These dual degrees aren’t very common, especially in Texas.”
Dual credentials will give graduates career opportunities beyond the traditional fields of patient care, academia or research, she said, opening doors to work in public health, specialty training or government services will be valuable to the communities they serve, she added.
Neumann worked with colleagues at the School of Public Health to set up the program and secure accreditation. In particular, she credited Linda Piller, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor and School of Public Health faculty lead for the D.D.S./M.P.H. program; Sylvia Salas, M.P.H., assistant dean for academic affairs and student services; and Sam Neher, assistant director of student services.
The D.D.S./M.P.H. program has an integrated curriculum that can be completed over the usual four years of dental school. Dental students will complete 45 credit hours for the M.P.H. degree, including 12 hours shared with the D.D.S. program. Students will have courses online and in person. Dental hygiene students pursuing dual degrees will complete the program over four years at UTHealth.
Neumann said current students at the School of Dentistry may apply to the dual degree program before they have completed 50 percent of the dental or dental hygiene curriculum. Those who enter the program may withdraw without penalty to the dental or dental hygiene degree; those who successfully complete the requirements will receive two diplomas at graduation.
For more information about the dual degree programs and how to apply, contact Ana Neumann at Ana.Neumann@uth.tmc.edu or 713-486-4079.
— Written by Rhonda Whitmeyer