Clinical and Translational Science (PhD)

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The PhD program in Clinical and Translational Science from Creighton University prepares graduates for work turning research advances into health care treatments.

This program – the only one at the doctoral level in the region – responds directly to the need for more scientists trained in this field, as stated by the National Institutes of Health. Health care’s future depends on capable scientists who have the ability to conduct sound clinical or basic sciences research, while also understanding how to translate those findings to patient care.

Creighton University’s Jesuit, Catholic values are key components of this program. You’ll not only learn how to think critically and carry out disciplined inquiry, but also understand the importance of ethical considerations, civic responsibility and service to others. In addition, Creighton University is known for excellence in a range of health sciences fields, offering a uniquely interdisciplinary educational and research opportunity.


The field of translational research is somewhat new, but well-trained researchers are in great need. Clinical and translational research scientists may work in private or academic research institutes or private companies. Agencies such as the NIH support clinical/translational research through grants available to competitive, competent applicants, including graduates of this program.

What You'll Learn

  • How to identify important clinical questions
  • How to develop research protocols
  • How to conduct clinical investigations in highly interdisciplinary, diverse and collaborative team settings and also independently
  • How to develop and submit successful grant proposals
  • How to combine critical thinking, disciplined research and effective problem-solving in research
  • How to communicate information through all modes of expression
  • How to engage in deliberate reflection for lifelong personal and professional formation
  • How to generate pilot data and analyze and write the results in a publishable form


The PhD in Clinical and Translational Science requires 90 credit hours, or 60 credits if the scholar has completed a master’s degree in a relevant subject. View the complete PhD program curriculum.

Comprehensive Examination

You must also pass a comprehensive examination by the end of 18 months in the program. The comprehensive exam consists of two components:

  1. Writing one review article on a clinical and translational research topic other than your PhD project with successful defense of the proposal. This review must consist of a critical discussion of the existing knowledge in the field, gaps in current knowledge, outstanding questions and future directions, and must be publishable in a peer-reviewed journal; and
  2. Writing an NIH R01-style grant proposal on your research topic, and successfully defending it.

Completion of PhD Research

You will be expected to publish original research articles prior to submitting the PhD dissertation.

Upon the completion of the research work, you will present the research to your advisory committee to seek permission and approval to write the PhD dissertation. You must write and submit a PhD dissertation and successfully defend it to fulfill the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy component of the PhD (CTS) program.

If the scholar has completed all requirements or is expected to complete them within 2-3 months of the commencement ceremony permission to walk in the ceremony will be recommended to the dean of the Graduate School by the program director.

Admissions Requirements

A limited number of students will be admitted to the program each fall. Applicants must meet general admission requirements for the Graduate School.

The GRE will not be required from applicants who have taken the MCAT and/or passed USMLE step I.

An internal committee will carefully review each applicant’s personal statement, together with prior academic preparation and letters of reference.

The committee will interview selected candidates. Scholars will be selected based on:

  • the quality of the applicant’s academic and/or clinical record
  • quality of applicant’s letters of recommendation
  • potential for development into an independent clinical and translational researcher focused on patient-oriented clinical research
  • commitment to a career in patient-oriented clinical research, and
  • interest in disseminating clinical trial outcomes to health-related fields that serve the general community.

Tuition & Scholarships

During the program each student will receive a fellowship stipend at the current NIH level (approximately $22,500/year) and student health insurance. This stipend may change according to NIH guidelines.

Each PhD candidate will also be provided up to $1,200/year to present his/her paper at a national meeting. The approval of such funds is subject to the review and approval of the CTS advisory committee.

The CTS program will cover the cost of tuition and fees for the duration of the PhD program

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