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Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent)

Apply for the Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent) through the Dunedin campus in 2021

Apply Now

A further round of applications for 2021 is now open for the DClinDent endorsed in Oral Pathology, Paediatric Dentistry and Periodontics. Applications close 2 October 2020.



The Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent) degree provides graduate training in ten disciplines in dentistry. The aim of each discipline programme is to prepare graduate students to become registered specialists in that discipline. The programmes foster development of critical analysis, research skills, and advanced clinical skills that will be recognised for specialist registration.

The programmes include clinical research and clinical practice and prepare students to be both practitioners and advisory consultants in their chosen areas of specialisation. Within each programme, course work includes papers on research methods and practice, advanced clinical science, and advanced clinical practice. A candidate's research will be presented in a thesis and demonstrate a significant contribution to knowledge in a particular field.

Because of the different training requirements for registration in each area of specialisation, the programme entry requirements and lengths vary.

The DClinDent degree may be awarded in any of the following subjects:

  • Endodontics
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Oral Medicine
  • Oral Pathology
  • Oral Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Paediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontology
  • Prosthodontics
  • Special Needs Dentistry

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Why Otago?

The University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry is ranked 34th-best dental school in the world (2019 QS World University Subject Rankings).

The Faculty of Dentistry offers both world-class cutting-edge research and facilities. Our new Clinical Services Building, opened in 2019, houses patient-focused activities for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in dentistry, oral health and dental technology.

For students, the new Clinical Services Building’s key advantages include:

  • Modern dental chairs and equipment that is widespread in the workplace
  • The most common electronic patient records software in the Australasian health sector – many private practices also use a similar version
  • Facilities that help teaching keep up with digital developments in dentistry
  • Larger spaces for teaching students simultaneously – in an operating theatre, three surgical procedure rooms and areas for viewing scans and radiographs
  • A new Student Commons (social area)

Learn more about the new Clinical Services Building

Our original building, the Walsh Building, is currently under refurbishment. It will house the Sir John Walsh Research Institute, the simulation clinic, seminar spaces, and offices for staff and postdoctoral students.

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1. Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes, international students are encouraged to apply (except for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and Oral Medicine, which are restricted to New Zealand residents and University of Otago graduates).

We suggest that you contact the University of Otago International Office as they can help you with any queries you may have regarding the application process, scholarship information, and eligibility criteria for postgraduate studies.

Contact the University of Otago International Office

2. Will I be able to practice dentistry in New Zealand if I complete a DClinDent?

Completion of postgraduate study does not automatically enable you to work as a dentist in New Zealand. You must first complete the Dental Council of New Zealand’s registration examinations.

Dental Council of New Zealand

DClinDent graduate may be able to register as specialists in their qualifying discipline, but will not be able to practices within the broader scope of general practice dentistry without first fulfilling the criteria of the NZDC.

3. What are the fees?

University of Otago fees

4. Are scholarships available?

Scholarships are provided and administered by the University of Otago Graduate Research School, not the Faculty of Dentistry.

Note that scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis according to GPA and publication record.

Please visit the Graduate Research School scholarships page for more information

5. When will decisions be made?

Generally, we hope to have all decisions made by the end of October in the year prior to the course commencing. However, many circumstances can mean that that date will change. Very often some offers are made as early as July or August.

To help us make good and timely decisions, it is important that applicants take care to supply all of the required documents as soon as possible and to make sure that CVs, essays, and referees report are relevant to the application.

6. How many positions are offered?

This can vary from year to year. Generally we will offer 1–4 positions in each discipline, however this is dependent on the availability of staff and resources so as to ensure that the excellent standard of our training is maintained.

7. What are you looking for in an application?

The DClinDent is a highly sought after programme, and the Faculty of Dentistry gets many more applicants that it can accept each year.

Admission to the programme is based on a number of factors.

Applicants must have a BDS or equivalent degree. Candidates will be accepted on the basis of their academic records, evidence of commitment to both education and their chosen discipline, as well as their clinical expertise and experience.

See Admission to the programme below.

8. How much clinical experience is required?

Generally a minimum of two years’ clinical experience (preferably three), with a substantial exposure to the discipline you are applying for.

9. When do applications open and close?

Applications for the DClinDent open on 1 April and close on 31 May of the year prior.

A yellow ‘Apply now’ button will appear on this page during each application period (1 April to 31 May).

Click the button to start your application.

10. When does the course start?

The DClinDent Programme starts on or about the Monday closest to the 22 January each year.

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Subject area

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Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (DClinDent)

Nature of the degree

The degree of Doctor of Clinical Dentistry is awarded on the basis of submission of a thesis and the completion of course work including clinical research and clinical practice. The thesis should give evidence of the candidate’s ability to carry out research, that the candidate has shown originality and independence, and that the candidate has made a significant contribution to knowledge in the particular field. It is expected that some of the work in the thesis would be worthy of publication. The research should be of a kind which a diligent and competent student might reasonably be expected to complete within the three years of the study programme.

  1. Admission to the programme

    1. Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) on the advice of the Faculty of Dentistry.
    2. Every applicant shall have fulfilled one of the following conditions:
      1. have been admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Dental Surgery of a university in New Zealand;
      2. have been admitted with the status of one who is entitled to proceed to the degree.
    3. Candidates will be selected on the basis of their previous academic record (normally with a grade average of a B+ or greater), their graduate experience and academic achievements, their commitment to the specific discipline, evidence that they are committed to ongoing education, and reports from three referees.
    4. Initial admission to the degree programme shall normally be provisional, and shall be confirmed after attaining at least a B+ grade in each of the first year papers (CLDN 910 and CLDN 920).
    5. If admission to the degree programme is not confirmed, then either the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) may approve provisional admission for a further period of up to one year or the candidate shall be required to enrol for another qualification or withdraw. If, after a period of extension, admission is not confirmed, the candidate shall be required to enrol for another qualification or withdraw.

    Note: A small number of dental postgraduate training programmes require both Medical and Dental degrees. With the approval of the Academic Boards of Dentistry and Medicine on the recommendation of the Combined Medicine and Dentistry Programmes Board of Studies, an MB ChB graduate may be admitted directly to the 3rd Year of the BDS programme.

  2. Structure of the programme

    1. The degree may be awarded in any of the following subjects:
    2. The programme of study shall consist of two papers (CLDN 910 and CLDN 920) together with clinical practice, and a programme of supervised research, leading to the submission of a thesis (CLDN 9). The two papers, the clinical practice requirements, and the thesis must each be completed satisfactorily.
    3. The candidate shall, before commencing the research investigation to be described in the thesis, secure the approval of the Faculty of Dentistry for the topic chosen, the supervisors and the proposed course of the investigation.
    4. A candidate will be required to pass both papers in the first year of the programme with at least a B+ grade in each paper to be able to continue to the second and third years of thesis research, clinical research and clinical practice.

  3. Duration of the programme

    1. A full-time candidate should normally satisfy the requirements of the degree within three years.
    2. A part-time candidate should normally satisfy the requirements of the degree within six years. The first year papers will usually be taken in Dunedin.

  4. Supervisors

    1. The Faculty of Dentistry shall, on the recommendation of the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee, appoint at least two supervisors to oversee the research work of the candidate.
    2. The Faculty of Dentistry shall, on the recommendation of the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee approve the research topic.
    3. One of the research supervisors must be an appropriately qualified member of the academic staff of the Faculty of Dentistry.
    4. In the case of a dispute between a candidate and a supervisor, the Faculty shall have discretion to replace that supervisor.

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  5. Withdrawal from the programme

    Where a candidate withdraws from the programme after completing the prescribed papers, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) may recommend the award of the Diploma for Graduates (endorsed in Dentistry), or determine which papers shall be credited towards the diploma.

  6. Submission of the thesis

    1. Four copies of the thesis embodying the results of the research shall be submitted for examination, in accordance with the regulations governing Presentation of Theses.
    2. Theses shall be limited to 100,000 words, excluding appendices, footnotes and bibliographies.
    3. A candidate may not present a thesis which has previously been accepted for another degree.

  7. Examinations

    1. Written and Clinical Examinations
      1. Examinations shall be taken at times appropriate to the structure of the programme.
      2. A candidate who fails an examination may, on the recommendation of the examiners, be permitted by the Faculty to be re-examined one further time.
      3. Examiners appointed in each discipline will include at least one internal examiner from the Faculty of Dentistry and one examiner external to the Faculty.
    2. Thesis Examination
      1. The thesis shall be submitted to three examiners appointed by the Senate on the recommendation of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) and the Head of Department concerned in consultation with the supervisors.
      2. One examiner shall be from outside New Zealand, one shall be from within New Zealand but external to the University and one shall be internal to the University.

        Note: Normal patterns for examiners may be varied in exceptional circumstances.

      3. A supervisor shall not be an examiner of the thesis.
      4. The thesis examination shall be supervised by an independent Convener appointed by the Senate on the recommendation of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences).
      5. The supervisors shall make a report on the work of the candidate which may be released to the Convener of the examiners.
      6. Each examiner shall supply a written report on the thesis, together with a preliminary recommendation for an examination result.
      7. An oral examination on the topic of the thesis and on the general field to which the topic belongs may be held on the recommendation of the examiners or the Convener of the examiners or at the request of the candidate.
      8. The oral examination shall be conducted by two examiners, one of whom is external to the University.
      9. At the discretion and invitation of the Convener, the supervisors and Head of Department concerned may contribute to the oral examination.
      10. After consultation with the examiners, the Convener may approve the attendance of others at the oral examination.

  8. Examination results

    1. Thesis
      1. The examiners may recommend that a thesis
        1. be accepted, or be accepted with minor editorial corrections.
        2. be accepted after amendments have been made to the satisfaction of the Convener of the examiners in consultation with the internal examiner.
        3. be revised and resubmitted for examination.
        4. be rejected and referred to the appropriate authority within the University for consideration of the award of another qualification.
        5. be rejected with no right of resubmission.
      2. Where the examiners cannot agree on a result, the Convener shall so report and the Faculty shall arrive at a decision after consulting a referee from outside the University.
      3. A candidate shall be permitted to revise and resubmit a thesis for examination once only.
    2. Course Work and Clinical Practice
      1. The examiners may recommend that the candidate has fulfilled the course work and clinical practice requirements.
      2. A candidate who has failed to fulfil the course work and clinical practice requirements may, on the recommendation of the examiners, be permitted by the Faculty of Dentistry to be re-examined at another time.

  9. Variations

    On the recommendation of the Faculty, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) may, in exceptional circumstances, approve a course of study which does not comply with these regulations.

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