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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

Dual-title CTS program graduate students must first be admitted to their major program as specified by requirements of the Graduate Council and the major program. They become eligible for the dual-title graduate degree program during their first year of study in the major area of study. Admission to the dual-title graduate degree program should be made prior to completing the candidacy exam in the major area.

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

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)

Language Competency Requirement

Students will fulfill any language requirement specified by the major department through which the student is admitted. There is no additional language requirement for the CTS dual-title graduate degree program.

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. Because students must first be admitted to a major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title degree program, dual-title Ph.D. students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements of both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period, which is defined as “after at least 18 credits have been earned in graduate courses beyond the baccalaureate and within three semesters of entry into the doctoral program.” At least one member of the candidacy committee will be a member of the CTS dual-title degree program faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs may serve in a combined role.

Committee Composition

In accordance with Graduate Council requirements, the doctoral committee shall contain at least four members of the Graduate Faculty, including the student’s dissertation adviser. Students shall be encouraged to include clinical faculty on the graduate committee. The committee shall include at least two individuals who are faculty members in the major program area, at least one faculty member who is affiliated with the CTS dual-title Ph.D. program, and at least one member whose field of study is different from the candidate’s major field of study. This committee member is referred to as the “Outside Field Member.” A member of the student’s committee who is affiliated with the CTS graduate program and who is outside of the major program area may serve in a combined role as an Outside Field Member.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, the primary appointment of at least one regular member of the doctoral committee must be in an administrative unit that is outside the unit in which the dissertation adviser’s primary appointment is held. This committee member is referred to as the “Outside Unit Member.” A member of the student’s committee who is outside the student’s major field of study and has a primary appointment outside the administrative home of the dissertation adviser(s) may serve as both the Outside Field Member and Outside Unit Member.

The doctoral committee shall be chaired by a member of the Graduate Faculty in the primary area of study and a faculty member of the CTS dual-title graduate degree program. In most cases, the same individual (e.g., dissertation adviser) is a member of the Graduate Faculty in both the major and dual-title fields, and in such cases may serve as sole chair. If the committee chair does not serve in this combined role, a faculty member representing the CTS dual-title graduate degree program must be designated a co-chair of the committee. A retired or emeritus faculty member may chair the doctoral committee if he/she was officially appointed and began (co)chairing the committee prior to retirement, and has the continuing approval of the department head or program chair in the primary area and dual-title field.

Comprehensive Exam

Faculty member(s) affiliated with the CTS dual-title graduate degree program will be fully integrated in the student’s comprehensive exam, as well as the final oral examination (dissertation defense). They will participate in constructing and evaluating comprehensive examination questions that cover the secondary area of study.

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.


A dissertation in the primary field with a substantial component of clinical and translational research is required of all students in the CTS dual-title graduate degree program. This component will be approved in advance by the student’s committee.

Student Aid

When available, graduate research assistantships will be available to students in this program.


Last Revised by the Department: Fall Semester 2013

Review Date: 11/19/2013

Faculty linked: 8/14/14


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