Graduate Program in Operative Dentistry and Biomaterials

The UNC Adams School of Dentistry offers a three-year graduate program designed to provide training in three major areas – teaching, patient care, and research – leading to a Master of Science degree in Operative Dentistry and Biomaterials and a Certificate in Operative Dentistry.

Black and white photo of operative dentists

Graduate Program in Operative Dentistry and Biomaterials

The Graduate Program in Operative Dentistry and Biomaterials aims to be a globally leading postgraduate program that generates students who excel in the areas of education, patient care, research and service.

Our program prepares graduates for a successful career in dental education and other areas through the use of contemporary operative dentistry skills and technologies. The UNC Operative Dentistry Department has a strong tradition in the field and has published seven editions of The Sturdevant’s Art and Science of Operative Dentistry, which traditionally has been the world’s top-selling dental textbook, and its faculty members have received numerous teaching awards throughout their careers.

Graduates also have the potential for careers such as clinical or technical research directors in companies with a dental emphasis, consultants to dental corporations, insurance providers, public health policy organizations, professional dental societies, philanthropic dental research, and education funding agencies.

The Graduate Program in Operative Dentistry and Biomaterials curriculum includes core courses and discipline-specific courses. The program emphasizes the development of expertise in a variety of topics including:

  • Caries risk assessment and management
  • Treatment planning and smile design
  • Conservative operative dentistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Diastema closure
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Tooth whitening
  • CAD/CAM restorations
  • Restoration of fractured anterior teeth
  • Implant planning and restoration
  • Digital dentistry

In addition, graduates can enroll in a wide range of elective courses based on their research and career interests, including courses in public health, epidemiology, clinical research methods, material sciences, oral biology, biostatistics, and education.

Graduates are required to complete the didactic and research components of the master’s degree prior to graduation.

The design of the program is consistent with the stated objectives in the Curriculum Guidelines for Postdoctoral Operative Dentistry (J Dent Educ 1993 Nov;57(11):832-6).

Meet the Residents

Admissions Information

Application Deadline: December 1

Applicants must utilize the Postdoctoral Application Support Service (PASS) administered by the American Dental Education Association.

Click here to access the PASS application materials and instructions.

Prospective students must include the following in their application to PASS:

  • Unofficial transcripts from your dental school program
  • Candidate essay
  • A letter of recommendation / evaluation from the dean of your dental school (institutional evaluation)
  • Two other letters of recommendation (professional evaluations)

Each applicant must submit the following directly to the program:

  • UNC-Chapel Hill safety questions
  • A 2″x 2″ photograph
  • National Dental Board Scores (if available) should be uploaded as Supplement Number 1

Application to the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School is not required until after students have been selected for the program. This application typically opens on or after August 1. 

Admissions Requirements

All prospective students must hold a DDS, DMD or equivalent degree from a dental school.

Admission criteria are applied equally to all applicants regardless of race, sex, color, national origin or religion. Minority students are encouraged to apply.

International Students

In addition to the above items, international applicants must include the following in their PASS application:

  • Foreign transcripts evaluation
  • TOEFL examination scores

International students are required to take the TOEFL exam with a minimum of 90 on the internet-based test, or the IELTS with a minimum score of 7.5. The exam score must be less than two years old.

When you register for any tests, you should indicate the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School (institution #5816) as a score recipient. If you did not specify the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School as a score recipient at the time of taking the test, you must promptly ask ETS to send your scores to us (institution #5816). No departmental code is required.

Applicants should take the test no later than May to ensure that scores arrive by the application deadline, unless listed here as an exception.

When requested to do so by the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School, international applicants must submit official academic records bearing the signature of the registrar or another academic official and either a raised or ink stamp or seal of the issuing institution. Records must be issued in the original language and be accompanied by certified English translations. International applicants must also submit verification that the degree has been awarded or a copy of the degree award.

International applicants seeking admission must complete and upload an international student data form and financial certification worksheet, available here. Applicants may submit financial certificate documentation at any time during the application process or they may wait to upload the documentation until they have received your admittance notification from the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School. Please note these documents must be received and approved by the International Student and Scholar Services office before visa documents can be prepared.

Tuition, Stipend Support and Benefits

The cost of attending graduate school includes tuition, fees, and health insurance, for which the student is billed directly. Tuition and fees for the master’s programs in the Adams School of Dentistry are available through the University Cashier.

Graduate students must pay tuition and fees during all years of study and training. These charges are subject to change at any meeting of the NC Board of Trustees and a yearly increase of 5-10 percent should be anticipated each year. Estimates for living expenses are available through the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid.

Out-of-state students and international students with permanent resident status (“green card”) are encouraged to establish legal residence in North Carolina and to apply for classification as a state resident for tuition purposes. Guidelines and application forms for establishing residency are available from the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School.

Stipend Support

Stipends are contingent on availability of funds. Regardless of the availability of stipend support, teaching responsibilities are required as a part of the program.

Tuition Remission

Tuition remission, or the reduction of the out-of-state tuition rate, is awarded by the semester.

To meet the general eligibility requirements, the student must be enrolled as a full-time student during the semester of the award.

The number of awards is limited, and awards are contingent on availability of funds; having a teaching or research assistantship does not guarantee remission will be awarded.

There is no application process for tuition remission. Tuition remission is not offered during the summer.


Click here for the course catalog. If the page does not automatically direct you, click “OPER” at the top.

The program is focused on three major areas:

Teaching Component
Graduates participate as graduate teaching assistants in didactic courses and supervise predoctoral students in preclinical and clinical activities.

Clinical Component
The curriculum includes topics such as treatment planning and smile design, conservative operative dentistry, biomaterials, diastema closure, porcelain veneers, tooth whitening, CAD/CAM restorations, restoration of fractured anterior teeth, implant planning and restoration, and digital dentistry.

Research Component
Graduates are expected to participate in research oral presentations and peer study section during the 1st year of residency, and to present their thesis research in the Adams School of Dentistry’s Research Day during the third year of residency. Preparation of a master’s thesis and an oral defense are required. Students will be encouraged to prepare abstracts and/or table clinics for scientific or educational meetings, as appropriate.

North Carolina Licensure/Intern Permit

Students who are not graduates of an ADA-accredited dental school must complete a simulation exam as part of their NC intern permit process. Such candidates must pass and complete the simulation exam within two months of their formal matriculation in the program. If a candidate does not pass the simulation exam within the two-month interval, they cannot advance in the clinical program and will be subject to dismissal from the program.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Program Director, Bert Vasconcellos, DDS, MS, PhD
Phone: (919) 537-3252

Administrative Support, Kristy Pickard
Phone: (919) 445-3735
Fax: (919) 537-3952

Patient Care Coordinator, Courtney Wrenn, RDH
Phone: (919) 537-3590

Operative Dentistry and Biomaterials Graduate Program
UNC Adams School of Dentistry
441 Brauer Hall
Campus Box #7450
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7450