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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Clinical and Translational Sciences (CTS)


H047 Medicine, Hershey Medical Center
717-531-0003 x287087

107 Noll Lab, University Park


Degree conferred:

Students electing to pursue this program through participating departments will earn a degree with a dual-title at the Ph.D. level, i.e., Ph.D. in [major program name] and Clinical and Translational Sciences.

The Graduate Faculty


The Program

The College of Medicine provides academic leadership of the CTS dual-title graduate degree program. It is administered jointly on the University Park and Hershey campuses through the College of Health and Human Development and the College of Medicine, respectively, in conjunction with Penn State’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and in coordination with the student’s primary graduate program. The CTSI Education and Training Internal Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from colleges and departments participating in the CTSI, maintains the program’s definition and goals, identifies faculty and courses relevant to the CTS dual-title graduate degree program, and recommends policies and procedures for the program’s operation.

The dual-title graduate degree program in CTS is designed to provide students with the aptitudes and skills necessary to expand research in their major field of study to impact clinical medicine and public health. The dual-title graduate degree program will provide opportunities to synthesize expertise across disciplinary boundaries and to evaluate the effectiveness of research to create improved clinical and/or health outcomes. This program enhances the training in the major field of study by providing value-added skill sets in patient-oriented, epidemiological, behavioral, outcomes and health services research that transitions scientific findings from the laboratory to the clinical setting to best practices in the community. Clinical and translational sciences are expanding, with career paths in academic, medical and industrial settings.

Because the dual-title Ph.D. complements the primary program of study, CTS program representation must be included at all phases of graduate study, including the candidacy exam, comprehensive exam, and dissertation defense.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to their primary graduate program and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the CTS dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the CTS dual-title program. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in CTS prior to obtaining candidacy in their primary graduate program.

An admissions committee comprised of faculty affiliated with the CTS dual-title graduate degree program will evaluate students. Applicants must have a graduate GPA of at least 3.5 in an area that relates to clinical and translational sciences. Applicants will be required to provide a statement of purpose that addresses the ways their research and professional goals will be enhanced by interdisciplinary research.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for a dual-title degree, students must satisfy the requirements of the primary graduate program in which they are enrolled. In addition, they must satisfy the degree requirements for the dual-title in CTS listed below.

General requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. in [major program name] and Clinical and Translational Sciences are listed below:

  • CTS 590 (1) Seminar in Clinical and Translational Sciences (two semesters)
  • CTS 595 (1-6) Clinical Research Internship or BMS 571 (1-3) Graduate Clinical Rotation (6 credits)
  • 18 additional credits from a list of approved electives in the following areas:

Statistics (3 credits)
Epidemiology (3 credits)
Bioinformatics (3 credits)
Experimental design and interpretation (3 credits)
The regulatory environment (3 credits)
Scientific communication (3 credits)
The choice of CTS electives may be proposed by the student, subject to approval by the student’s academic advisers from the primary and CTS programs. They should complement the student's work in the primary program. A list of approved electives is available on the CTS program home page.

  • Successful completion of candidacy and comprehensive examinations in clinical and translational sciences and the related field.The specific format and content is determined in consultation with the primary program.
  • Successful defense of a dissertation in the major field with a substantial component that is clinical or translational in nature.
  • Scholarship and Research Integrity (SARI) training (required of all Penn State graduate students)
  • Institutional Review Board and/or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee training (as appropriate)

Candidacy Requirement

Typically, candidates to the program will be accepted during their first year of study. In some circumstances candidates may be considered during the second year. To be admitted to the CTS dual-title graduate degree program students must meet the Ph.D. candidacy requirements in both their major area of study and the dual-title area. The candidacy exam will include both elements. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.  

The candidacy examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the CTS program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role.

Doctoral Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for doctoral committees, the doctoral committee of a CTS dual-title doctoral degree student must include at least one member of the CTS Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the doctoral committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in CTS, the member of the committee representing CTS must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exam

The CTS representative on the student’s doctoral committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam will require the student to demonstrate an understanding of the methods of translational sciences and an ability to apply them to problems in the student’s major field of study. When appropriate, the student will be expected to demonstrate a working knowledge of methods to evaluate and compare the outcomes of his/her research to related approaches already in existence.


Students in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their doctoral committee and reflects their original research and education in both their primary graduate program and CTS. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Student Aid section of the Graduate Bulletin. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set forth in the Graduate Bulletin.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Last Revised by the Department: Spring Semester 2017

Review Date: 4/4/2017

Faculty linked: 8/14/14


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