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CDC Dental Public Health Residency Program

Program Goal

The aim of the CDC Dental Public Health Residency Program is to produce skilled specialists in dental public health who can work collaboratively with their public health and dental colleagues in an array of health settings to achieve improved oral health for populations. Such positions could be located within health agencies, voluntary organizations, research settings, health care delivery, or financing systems. The Residency Program provides opportunities to gain experience and skills across all ten designated competency areas outlined by the American Board of Dental Public Health, as a foundation for future examination and certification by the Board, and for a career as a specialist in dental public health. The program offers guided practice in collaborating with public health and dental stakeholders to achieve improved oral health for populations. The Resident will develop skills in the methods of scientific inquiry and research, emphasizing oral epidemiology and population-based efforts to prevent oral diseases and promote oral health. The program culminates in a certificate of completion that meets educational requirements established by the American Board of Dental Public Health for specialty certification.

Program Location and Duration

This formal training program for dentists is located in Atlanta, Georgia. The program usually starts in July of each year and extends over 12 months (full-time) or 24 months (part-time).

Admission Requirements

Each year, up to two qualified dentists are admitted into CDC's residency program. Applicants must have completed a dental degree (DDS or DMD) from a U.S. dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation or a Canadian school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. Applicants who are graduates of a school of dentistry outside the U.S. or Canada must be deemed to have equivalent education. For more details, please see the International Dentists section below.

In addition, the applicant must have completed at least one academic year of advanced training in public health and obtained a graduate degree—a Master of Public Health (MPH) or comparable degree—from an institution accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Courses for the MPH or comparable degree would include biostatistics, epidemiology, health care policy and management, environmental health, and behavioral sciences. If the applicant’s public health training was completed in an institution outside the U.S., satisfactory completion of two or more years (full-time equivalent) of advanced education in an area related to the practice of dental public health is required. The same content areas described above apply to course work completed by public health graduates from outside the U.S.

The Residency Training Plan

Instruction within the program follows an individualized training plan focused on competency objectives developed by the American Board of Dental Public Health. These competencies are tested through the formal examination for certification in the specialty of dental public health and address the practitioner’s ability to—

  • Manage oral health programs for population health.
  • Evaluate systems of care that impact oral health.
  • Demonstrate ethical decision-making in the practice of dental public health.
  • Design surveillance systems to measure oral health status and its determinants.
  • Communicate on oral and public health issues.
  • Lead collaborations on oral and public health issues.
  • Advocate for public health policy, legislation, and regulations to protect and promote the public’s oral health, and overall health.
  • Critically appraise evidence to address oral health issues for individuals and populations.
  • Conduct research to address oral and public health problems.
  • Integrate the social determinants of health into dental public health practice.

Each resident develops a training plan based on prior education and experience. The plan addresses competencies to be developed or refined during the training program, activities designed to achieve these improved skills, and methods or criteria for evaluating progress. Both a supervised field experience and an applied research project must be included in the plan. While the plan accommodates individual differences and considers current issues, it emphasizes applying fundamental public health principles to prevent dental disease and promote oral health.

Financial Considerations

No tuition or fees are required. Stipends for residents are provided through CDC’s Regular Fellowship Program. This program is designed to encourage training for research and advancing science related to health. In 2016, program stipends ranged from $45,000 to $65,000, depending on the resident’s prior professional experience.

Although residents in CDC’s Regular Fellowship Program are not federal employees, they can access a wide array of training resources and experiences. Interested employees of other federal agencies, including commissioned officers in the United States Public Health Service, can discuss their circumstances with the Residency Director.

Residency Resources

CDC’s Dental Public Health Residency Program is sponsored by the Division of Oral Health, within National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP). NCCDPHP offers an abundance of learning opportunities and has programs addressing the prevention and control of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and tobacco use, as well as programs focused on reproductive health, school health, aging, obesity prevention, and nutrition and physical activity. In addition, residents will have access to the larger CDC community of programs and residents as well as other institutions and partner organizations to explore potential collaboration opportunities.
Dr. Scott M. Presson, a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health, directs CDC’s Dental Public Health Residency Program. In addition, CDC employs professionals who can contribute their expertise during the residency (e.g., dentists, statisticians, economists, epidemiologists, social and behavioral scientists, physicians, and specialists in health policy, health communication, and evaluation). Residents also have access to CDC resources including excellent library facilities, computer services, training courses, and frequent seminars and guest lectures on public health topics.

International Dentists

Dentists who have completed their dental training outside the U.S. or Canada can apply for the CDC Dental Public Health Residency Program. However, their education and degrees must be evaluated by a credentialing organization to determine equivalency to the DDS or DMD degree awarded by a U.S. dental school.

The information for three credentialing organizations is provided below. When you send your documents to one of these agencies, ask for a course-by-course evaluation.

  • American Association of Collegiate Registrars (AACRAO)
    One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 520
    Washington, DC 20036
    Telephone: 202-293-9161
    Web site: http://www.aacrao.org/
  • Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (ECE)
    P.O. Box 514070
    Milwaukee, WI 53203-3470
    Telephone: 414-289-3400
    Web site: http://www.ece.org/
  • World Education Services (WES )
    Bowling Green Station
    P.O. Box 5087
    New York, NY 10274-5087
    Telephone: 212-966-6311
    Web site: http://www.wes.org/

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Score

TOEFL scores are required for applicants who received both their dental and public health degrees from institutions with a language of instruction other than English. The Computer Based Test (CBT), Internet Based Test (iBT), or the Paper Based Test (PBT) will be accepted. The following are the minimum required scores based on test type:

CBT – minimum total score of 213

iBT – minimum total score of 80

PBT – minimum total score of 550

Residency Application

The applicant should make sure the following materials are submitted by postal mail to the address below by the deadline of February 1, 2017:

  • Completed application form for the academic year 2017–2018. [PDF–120K]
  • Copy of curriculum vitae.
  • A letter of intent describing reasons for pursuing a career in dental public health and how the CDC residency matches personal educational goals.
  • Official transcripts from both dental school and graduate education in public health. The transcripts must be sent directly from the registrar’s office of the issuing institutions. Transcripts from institutions where English is not the official language of instruction must be accompanied by certified translations.
  • Three letters of recommendation written in English from persons who have agreed to serve as references. Recommendation letters should be on letterhead, signed and dated. Recommendations should come directly from the person who is writing the letter. The person writing the recommendation can email it to DPHresidency@cdc.gov.

In addition to the documents described above, International graduates should submit the following materials:

  • Course-by-course evaluation by a credentialing organization for transcripts from educational institutions outside the U.S. or Canada.
  • TOEFL score (required only from those applicants with both dental and public health degrees from institutions with a language of instruction other than English).

Selection is on the basis of academic achievement, prior experience, and congruence between CDC’s Residency Program and the applicant’s stated goals. Applicants are considered equally, without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or age.

Mail your completed application to the Residency Director.


NOTE:  For the academic year 2018-2019, applications will be due November 1, 2017.

Contact Information


Division of Oral Health
Mailstop F80, Building 107
4770 Buford Highway
Atlanta, Georgia 30341
Telephone: (770) 488-6054
E-mail: DPHResidency@cdc.gov

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