Dental Public Health Residency Program

The North Carolina Oral Health Section administers a professional training program for dentists who have completed formal academic training in public health, such as a Master’s in Public Health, and are seeking training in the specialty of dental public health.

The purpose of the Residency Program is to provide practical experiences for dentists who have completed formal academic training in public health. The Oral Health Section of the Division of Public Health has sponsored this training in dental public health since 1965 and is one of only a few state or local health departments providing this specialty training. General Statute 130A-11 of the North Carolina Public Health Laws provides for the establishment of a dental public health residency program by the State of North Carolina.

The Residency Program is fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association. More than 40 residents have been trained since 1966. Graduates have gone on to a variety of positions in dental public health within North Carolina and nationally, including roles in local, state, and federal government, as well dental education and research.

Program Goals

The goals of the Residency Program are to train qualified dentists to practice dental public health in an array of health care settings, plan and run community-based public health programs, and contribute to the scientific basis of public health practice through the conduct of applied public health research to improve the oral health of the public. Additionally, the program provides an opportunity to complete the educational requirements necessary for Board Certification in Dental Public Health. The residency curriculum and activities are guided by the Dental Public Health Competencies1 and adapted to the prior experiences and interests of the resident.

How to Apply

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The Residency Program is offered as a partnership among and supported by resources within the North Carolina Oral Health Section, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health and Adams School of Dentistry, and East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine. Because the program is located in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, and in one of the largest state dental programs in the country, it provides an excellent array of exposures to the philosophy and practice of dental public health. Considering the comprehensive scope of the state dental program and cooperative relationships with extensive resources throughout North Carolina, an almost unlimited variety of practical training experiences is available. The state dental program provides an excellent opportunity for designing a residency that is responsive to the individual needs of a dentist interested in public health practice.

North Carolina Oral Health Section

  • Oldest state oral health program in the country
  • Access to experiences in program management, health promotion and disease prevention, delivery of health services, the political process and applied research

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina University

  • Access to esteemed dental public health professionals, library resources, and academic courses

Residency Advisory Committee

  • Members represent diverse backgrounds and experiences in dental public health and other related fields
  • Advises residents on curriculum and performance
  • Provides guidance to the Residency Director and Administrator

The North Carolina Dental Public Health Residency Program does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, creed, national origin, age or disability. Residents are selected based on scholarship, experience and leadership potential.

Applicants must have the following:

  • Dental Degree:
    • Accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA),
    • Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC); or
    • An institution deemed equivalent by a credentials evaluation service
  • Graduate Public Health Degree (i.e. MPH, DrPH):
    • At least one academic year in an area related to public health that results in a degree
    • Accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, or a degree-granting educational institution recognized by a Canadian providence. Public health degrees from institutions outside the United States and Canada are no longer accepted.
    • Must include training in biostatistics, epidemiology, health care policy and management, environmental health, and behavioral sciences
  • TOEFL®:
    • Minimum score of 100; exam and score must be within last two years
    • TOEFL® requirement waived if dental or public health degree received in a predominantly English-speaking country
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Statement of Intent
  • Proof of Citizenship

See the Dental Public Health Residency Application for additional details and instructions. Applicants will receive a written letter of acceptance or denial once an admissions decision has been made.


  • Program does not charge tuition or other fees.

Stipend & Fringe Benefits

  • Federally funded stipend and health insurance may be available only for trainees who are U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or foreign nationals with permanent U.S. residence visas.
  • When available, stipend is approximately $50,000-$55,000.


  • Must have a valid driver’s license and access to a vehicle for residency-related travel.
  • Travel within the state and to at least one national conference is required, as feasible.
  • Travel expense reimbursement may be available only for trainees who are U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or foreign nationals with permanent U.S. residence visas.

Other Program Benefits

  • Office space, computer equipment, and supplies provided.
  • 1-year professional organization memberships may be provided only for trainees who are U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or foreign nationals with permanent U.S. residence visas.

For specific application requirements, please see the Dental Public Health Residency Application. Application materials are due Nov. 1 prior to the year in which an applicant wishes to enter the residency.

Q. When does the Residency Program start and end?

A. The residency is now offered as a 12-month full-time or 24-month part-time program that runs from July to June. Residents are expected to work a minimum of 224 full days, fulfill the educational requirements of the program and follow the personnel guidelines of the Oral Health Section regarding sick leave, holidays, due process and personnel records. 

Q. Is this an online program?

A. While some activities and learning opportunities are held virtually, the residency is an in-person program that requires residents to live locally. 

Q. If I am not a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or foreign national with a permanent U.S. residence visa, is financial assistance available to support my participation in the program?

A. When federal funding is available, it can only be used to support U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or foreign nationals with permanent U.S. residence visas. There are no other sources of funding to support residents in the program. If a resident is ineligible for financial assistance, he/she/they would be responsible for their living expenses and any program-related expenses, including, but not limited to travel, conference registrations, professional memberships and board examination fees.

Q. Am I eligible to participate in the program if I am on an F-1 Student Visa or other visa type?

A. This residency is not in a university setting.Therefore, the program does not qualify for F-1 Student Visas. The Oral Health Section also does not participate in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. Applicants preparing to graduate from a master’s program who wish to work under their university’s OPT program must work with their university to make all OPT and visa arrangements. The Oral Health Section is unable to assist applicants with any visa issues, questions or possible visa alternatives. Applicants who require a visa to participate in the program must be able to maintain their visa for the duration of the residency.

Q. How many residents are accepted into the program each year?

A. One to two residents are accepted into the program each year. Slots are not predesignated as part-time or full-time.


Q. Is there a clinical, patient care component to the program?

A. No, the program does not include clinical patient care.


Q. Can I work a separate job during the program?

A. Full-time residents are not allowed to work outside the program during usual business hours (Monday - Friday, 8a - 5p). Part-time residents may work outside the program, as long as the work schedule does not conflict with the agreed upon program schedule.


Q. I am a foreign trained dentist. Am I eligible to apply?

A. Foreign trained dentists who meet the admissions requirements as stated above and in the application are eligible to apply.


Q. Will I be enrolled as a student to take courses at UNC or ECU?

A. There are no required courses during the residency program. Residents are not enrolled in or considered students at either university. Participation in any university courses is at the sole discretion of individual course directors, which residency faculty would help negotiate.

Q. How do I find a credentials evaluation service?

A. If your dental or public health degree transcripts require evaluation, please use one of the following credentials evaluation services:

Downloadable Version of Program Information

If you are interested in this residency in Dental Public Health and have more questions, please email


[1] Dental Public Health Competencies. J Public Health Dent 2016; 76:S18-S28.