Please note: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will now be called "UT Health San Antonio."

Translational Science

The Translational Science Ph.D. program is joint program between The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), and The University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH) Regional Campus in San Antonio. 

This collaboration of four universities to offer a single joint doctoral degree is unique in the UT System. The program is designed to use the existing resources and expertise in specific key areas of each university to offer a strong, diverse, and competitive doctoral program.

The Translational Science Ph.D. program will prepare the next generation of scientists to lead the multi-disciplinary biomedical research teams of the future in increasingly complex research environments. These scientists will advance knowledge in the areas of Type 1 and Type 2 translational research toward the goal of translating basic biomedical scientific discoveries into strategies that will improve healthcare delivery, patient outcomes, and community health.

For more information about the program, click here. To read an article about the program, click here

What is Translational Science? 

Translational Science is an emerging academic and scientific discipline which applies basic biomedical scientific discoveries into real-world applications to improve patient care. TS conduct rigorous studies at different levels of the research process – the basic science laboratory, clinical research discoveries, and applies these research findings toward disease prevention and management, and strategies to improve human, community, and global health. 

Key elements in the translational science process are 

1) applying scientific discoveries in the lab or at the bedside in ways that are more efficient and effective

2) shortening the time between scientific discovery and application. However, the processes (mechanisms) by which application of discoveries and ways to speed their dissemination and implementation are not known, and are the focus of the research in this area. 

As the national discussion establishing the discipline of TS evolves, several descriptions have emerged to define the TS spectrum. To avoid confusion, the following table specifies the terms we will use in this Translational Science Ph.D. program application: 

Admission Requirements

The Translational Science Ph.D. program is an advanced scientific research doctoral program. Admission is based on a student’s total record of achievements. Applicants must demonstrate:

1)  Advanced Degree: Applicants must demonstrate at least one of the following: 

a) completion of an advanced Professional Degree (e.g., M.D., DO, D.D.S., MSN, Pharm.D.

b) completion of a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in a health-related, science, public health or social science discipline

c) enrollment in a clinical professional doctoral degree program with intent to graduate prior to the semester for which application is being made

d) enrollment as a M.D./Ph.D. student with successful completion of the two-year pre-clinical curriculum. Enrollment/Graduation must be from an accredited college or university in the United States or proof of equivalent training at a foreign institution.

2)  Documentation of Academic Record: For the purpose of evaluating the application, copies of all transcripts are acceptable for inclusion with the application. If selected for admission, official transcripts will be required from all colleges and universities attended. Transcripts must be sent from the college/university in a sealed envelope directly to the Registrar’s Office at the Home institution. Transcripts from foreign colleges/universities must be officially translated into English (if needed, and must also be evaluated, including GPA and equivalent degree, by Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. or World Education Services, Inc., which are members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. The evaluated transcript should be sent from the credentialing agency in a sealed envelope directly to the Registrar’s Office at the Home institution. The applicant should include a copy of the translated and/or evaluated transcripts as part of the application.

3)  Demonstration of Ability to Participate in an Advanced Academic Program: Official documentation of a satisfactory score for the combined verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), or an equivalent, is required. The GRE score will be considered along with the other admission criteria. Scores on GRE tests taken more than five years prior to the date of application are not acceptable. Applicants may request a waiver for the GRE requirement if they provide evidence that they have earned a doctoral degree (i.e., M.D., DO, J.D., DVM, Pharm.D., D.D.S., Ph.D., etc.) from an accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent from a foreign institution, as evaluated by either Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (ECE) or World Education Services, Inc. (WES), are currently certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), have passed all three steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), or were previously enrolled in the Graduate School of one of the joint degree institutions. Consideration for a waiver of the GRE outside of these guidelines will be made on a case-by-case basis.

4)  Demonstration of Proficiency in English (if applicable): Official documentation of a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for applicants from a country where English is not the native language. A minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper test), 225 (computer test), or 86 (Internet-based Test), or a score of 7.0 on the Academic Examination of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), is required. Scores on TOEFL tests taken more than two years prior to the date of matriculation are not acceptable. TOEFL may be waived for applicants whose post-secondary education was conducted in a country where English is the native language. ECFMG certified physicians will also be granted a TOEFL waiver. Consideration for a waiver outside of these guidelines will be made on a case-by-case basis.

5)  Personal Statement: Applicants must submit a personal statement (1-3 pages) that describes the applicant’s past training and experience, future career goals and objectives, scientific research interest, and how the Translational Science Ph.D. program will prepare them to achieve the stated research interest and career goals. The personal statement should be submitted with the online application. The Personal Statement should include but is not limited to:

- A statement of the applicant’s background and purpose for applying to the Translational Science Ph.D. program,

- Applicant’s interest in and commitment to a translational science career

- Applicant’s potential to develop into a successful scientist, as evidenced by research training/experience, prior publications, etc.

- Research interest and its applicability to the Translational Science Ph.D. program

- Identification of a potential Supervising Professor, if applicable

- Career goals and how the Translational Science Ph.D. program will contribute to their attainment

6)  Letters of Recommendation: Applicants must provide three (3) letters of recommendation from faculty or other individuals who are familiar with and can provide information about the applicant’s academic, research, and/or professional abilities and performance. In addition, letters of recommendation should provide an assessment of the applicant’s potential to succeed in a doctoral program and develop into an independent research investigator. These letters should be on letterhead and submitted/uploaded with the recommendation form in the online application.

7)  Curriculum Vitae: A current CV should be submitted with the online application.

8)  Copy of U.S. Medical License/Certificate: If applicable, a copy should be submitted with the online application.

9)  Authorization for Criminal Background Check: A background check is required before a recommendation for student admission can be forwarded to the Dean's Office of the Graduate School. This form will be provided by the Translational Science Ph.D. Program Office should be completed by the student, signed, and submitted to the Translational Science Ph.D. Program Office for handling.

10) Immunizations: If admitted to the Translational Science Ph.D. program, all State of Texas immunization requirements must be met prior to registration. A list of the required immunizations for UT Health Science Center may be found at the student services website. Proof of immunization will be required. Because students in the program will attend class and possibly conduct research at four UT institutions, all immunization requirements of all institutions must be met, even if an immunization is not required at a student's Home institution. As a result, students in the  are required to have the hepatitis B immunization. If you are admitted into the Translational Science Ph.D. program, you WILL BE REQUIRED to show proof of completion (or near completion) of the Hepatitis B immunization series or show serologic confirmation of immunity to Hepatitis B virus prior to enrollment (Texas Administrative Code Title 25, Part 1 Section 97.63). The Hepatitis B immunization series is administered over a period of six months. You are advised to begin the immunization series as soon as possible after applying for admission.

11)  Insurance: All students in the Translational Science Ph.D. program are required to maintain valid medical insurance while enrolled - either through employer, personal purchase, or school-sponsored purchase. You will be required to show proof of insurance or purchase medical insurance each semester.

12)  International Students: Students from outside the U.S. who possess the qualifications or equivalents outlined in Admission Requirements are eligible to apply to the Translational Science Ph.D. program. Any international student accepted into the program will be required to have an F-1 student visa, and as a stipulation of the F-1 student visa must be a full-time student in the program.

University Faculty and Staff 

Residents or fellows in an approved residency or fellowship program may enroll as full-time or part-time students, as determined by the residency program. Any faculty member (tenured or non-tenured) may pursue an advanced degree in an institution of The University of Texas System other than the university that employs the faculty member. Non-tenured university faculty may pursue an advanced degree at their university of employment with the written recommendation of his/her department chair and approval of the appropriate Dean and the President. Approved faculty and staff may enroll in coursework only as part-time students and are encouraged to work with their College Dean, Department Chair, and/or Supervisor to determine availability and approval of release time for the completion of the educational and research activities required by the Translational Science Ph.D. program. The amount of course work that can be taken by faculty or staff in a given semester is subject to the ‘quantity of work’ rules outlined in each university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP). Any approved release time should be in accordance with university policy.

How To Apply

The Translational Science Ph.D. program utilizes a single application source through the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Applicants are responsible for the timely submission of application materials to the program in order to meet the deadlines established by each institution’s Graduate School for registration and course enrollment. 

Applications for fall 2017 will be available starting September 1, 2016. The deadline for submission of the application and all supporting documents will be November 1, 2016.

Required documentation for all applicants includes:

Online application

- College/university transcripts (official)

- GRE scores (if entering with a Master’s degree only)

- Letters of recommendation (3)

- Personal Statement

- Curriculum Vitae

In addition, for Foreign Nationals:

- TOEFL scores

- Visa

In addition, for Licensed Health Care Professionals:

- Medical license/certificate

Official test scores and transcripts should be sent to:

Registrar's Office
UT Health Science Center at San Antonio
7703 Floyd Curl Drive, MC 7702
San Antonio, TX 78229-3900
Institution Code: 6908

Requests for an exemption to general admission requirements that are not addressed in the online application should be addressed to the TS PhD Program Director at:

Program Director at:
TS PhD Program
IIMS – Research Education
UT Health Science Center at San Antonio
7703 Floyd Curl Drive, MC 7757
San Antonio, TX 78229-3900

Application Review

Once complete, all application documents and required admission materials will be made available to the Admissions Committee of the Translational Science Committee on Graduate Studies (TS COGS), which may be the full TS COGS. The Admissions Committee will review each application individually and will consider the applicant’s personal statement, undergraduate and graduate course work and degree(s), scores on the GRE and TOEFL (if applicable), letters of recommendation, CV, and all other required documentation submitted with the online application. Top scoring applicants will be invited for interview with one or more of the Admissions Committee/TS COGS members and/or the Program Director, which may be conducted in-person, by phone, or by computer.

Home Institution Designation

Each student in the Translational Science Ph.D. program must declare a Home institution. The home institution will be the institution of record for admission, dissertation research, and graduation, and it will be the primary institution for fees, financial aid, student health services, and other student services.

Based on the information provided in the application and at interview, a Home institution that best meets the needs and interests of the applicant will be determined by the TS COGS Admissions Committee or TS COGS. Agreement must be reached between the applicant and the committee or the Translational Science Ph.D. Program Director prior to forwarding a recommendation for admission to the selected Home institution.

Program Description 

The goal of the Translational Science Ph.D. program is to provide an in-depth, rigorous, and individualized multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research education and training program in translational science that will prepare research scientists to integrate information from multiple domains and conduct independent and team-oriented research to improve human and global health.

Eight educational domains form the foundation for the Translational Science Ph.D. educational objectives. Within each domain are specific competencies that each candidate will have to fulfill. 

The eight domains for every graduate of the Translational Science Ph.D. program program include:

1) Translational Science: Students will articulate what constitutes Type 1 and Type 2 translational science and the inter-relationships between the two broad tracks.

2) Responsible Conduct: Students will be knowledgeable about and be able to apply research ethics and work effectively with regulatory groups within their organization(s).

3) Research Design and Analysis: Students will formulate research questions and appropriately design experiments and studies to test hypotheses. They will develop specific analytic strategies based on the study design and assure that their studies are adequately powered to test the hypotheses.

4) Team Science: Students will work effectively in and be able to lead interdisciplinary research teams to (a) identify health related problems and (b) design and conduct research to address the problems.

5) Multi-level Cultural Proficiency: Students will be able to identify the different cultures that exist within and among (a) organizations and (b) communities (locally and globally). In recognizing these differences, students will learn to use cultural competence and work effectively to conduct research investigations in different settings.

6) Communication: Since communication is a key domain of translational science, students will demonstrate oral and written competency in their ability to communicate research clearly to other translational scientists via journal articles and scientific presentations. They will be able to effectively write abstracts and manuscripts, give oral presentations, and communicate the relevance of their scientific expertise. Beyond the core requirements, students will receive training in grant writing and be expected to develop grant applications for career development (e.g., NIH F32 or K-grant series) or independent funding.

7) Business of Translational Science: Students will become functionally informed about intellectual property licensing and the processes of developing products, drugs, or devices for human use. They will be able to design and implement research protocols to study improvement in health care processes and outcomes. Students will be able to function within different legal, regulatory, and economic environments.

8) Evidence Based Implementation and Policy: Students will be able to independently read and interpret the scientific literature in their content area. They will be able to systematically review a body of scientific literature to apply to policy implementation. They will be able to make data based decisions and inform policy and guideline development.

Program Curriculum 

While there is no prescribed sequence of courses for the Translational Science Ph.D. program, some courses are offered only one time per year and some courses require prerequisites, so students and their academic/graduate advisors must develop the individualized degree plan accordingly to maintain an established schedule to graduation. 

Additionally, the  Translational Science Ph. D. curriculum is multi-institutional. As a result, each student will be required to take at least one course, if not more, at each participating institution. The actual number of courses taken at each institution will depend on the students’ research interest and individualized degree plan.

Program Timeline

To maintain progression toward completion of the Translational Science Ph.D. program in three years, as a full-time student, the following expectations and milestones should be met:
Year 1:
  • With the academic advisor or supervising professor, develop individualized curriculum plan
  • Enroll in and successfully complete selected core, track elective, and/or free elective courses
  • Identify area of research interest
  • Identify a Supervising Professor
  • If not already selected, network for purposes of identifying a Supervising Professor
  • Create a Compact and Milestone Agreement with an advisor or supervising professor (to be reviewed annually)
Year 2:
  • With the academic advisor or supervising professor, review and/or revise individualized curriculum plan
  • Enroll in and successfully complete selected core, track elective, and/or free elective courses
  • Establish a qualifying examination committee
  • Successfully complete the qualifying examination
  • File for admission to candidacy
  • Select a Supervising Professor (if not done in Year 1)
  • Form a Dissertation Committee
  • Obtain IRB or IACUC approval for research, if needed
  • Begin/continue dissertation research
  • Complete scheduled Semi-Annual Evaluations; review the Compact and Milestones Agreement
Year 3:
  • Complete the dissertation research project, including writing the dissertation, revising the dissertation, and successfully completing the final oral defense
  • Complete scheduled Semi-Annual Evaluations; review the Compact and Milestones Agreement
  • Apply for graduation during registration for semester of oral examination
  • Schedule, announce, and present the final oral examination (defense of dissertation)
Subsequent Years:
  • Completion of unfinished tasks from previous years-complete research; write/revise the dissertation; prepare/present the final oral examination; apply for graduation
  • Complete scheduled Semi-Annual Evaluations; review the Compact and Milestones Agreement

Tuition and Fees

Rates for in‐state and out‐of‐state student tuition and fees are established by each institution. Please refer to the Translational Science Ph.D. website for links to current rates for Graduate School tuition and fees at the Translational Science Ph.D. universities. Each Translational Science Ph.D. student must establish domicile residency status for the purpose of assessing rates for tuition and fees (in‐state or out‐of‐state). This status will be determined by the Home institution. Once residency has been established, the residency designation will be the same for the enrollment in any of the universities that are part of the Translational Science Ph.D. program.

Helpful Documents

To view the the graduate catalogs and requirements for each institution, click here. To see the handbook, click here

Christopher Frei, Pharm.D.
Project Director

Contact Information:

Giovanna D'Ambra
Project Coordinator

(210) 567-3711

Application Deadline:
Fall/November 1

Program Handbook:
Translational Science Ph.D. Student Handbook

Want to learn more about students in the program?