Making the decision to attend dental school is part of the journey to becoming a dentist. Another part is choosing which dental school to go to.
It will take around eight years of education before one becomes a full-fledged dentist. A bachelor’s degree in any field is needed and then either a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree.
There are national and state examinations that one needs to pass, too. To do this, a strong foundation is essential. A top-ranking dental school will help equip a dental student with the basic and advanced knowledge, skills, and aptitude required to become a dentist.
There are approximately 64 universities in the U.S. that offer advanced dentistry degrees; choosing won’t be easy. However, there are several factors to consider when choosing a dental school, including:
ShanghaiRanking’s 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities has named the following as the top 5 dental schools in the United States:1
Highlights from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data include:2
The past 20 years have seen fluctuations in the number of dental school enrollments. For example, the first three years of the 2020s have shown a steady increase in the number of enrollments, followed by a decline for the next four years.4
The good news is, since 2008, the numbers have risen steadily.4 With a projected 8% growth in dentist jobs in the next 10 years - an average of 5,000 dentists needed every year - the enrollment numbers are expected to increase.2
Important dental school applicant statistics culled from the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) include:
Here is a list of dental specialties duly recognized by the ADA and are approved and adopted by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards (NCRDSCB):6
Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain are dental specialties also recognized by the ADA and the NCRDSCB.
Here are the top 10 dental schools in the US according to ShanghaiRanking’s 2021 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects:1
The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is a driving force in dentistry and other health-related disciplines. It has a wide network of affiliated clinics that provide extensive opportunities and exposure for dentistry students to gain hands-on experiences.
There are 120 full-time faculty members handling 15 different programs. The school also provides dental care and oral health services to the community.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Adams School of Dentistry has consistently been on the list of the best dental schools in the United States. Its Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) Program boasts of a curriculum that follows the Advocate-Clinician-Thinker (ACT) premise.
Dentistry students are taught and trained to act as their patients’ advocate, providing exceptional clinical care, and be problem-solvers. The students gain clinical experience through 50 rotation sites in North Carolina, with two free student-led free clinics. These clinics provide dental and oral health care to more than 90,000 patients every year.
When it comes to top university rankings, Harvard University never falls off the list - both in the country and dental schools worldwide. This Ivy League school houses one of the best dental schools in the United States.
The Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) is located in the Longwood Medical Area in Boston. For a portion of their coursework, HSDM students typically study together with Harvard medical students. Hands-on experiences are gained through clinical rotations at the Harvard Dental Center, which caters to more than 25,000 patients each year.
The University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry is considered as one of the best in the country. The school provides both clinical education and research opportunities to its students, producing more than 100 graduates each year.
Hands-on experiences are gained from the school’s dental center which sees more than 120,000 dental patients annually. The UCSF School of Dentistry also scores high points for research. In fact, it has been on the number one spot as the top U.S. dental school based on funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Just like its San Francisco counterpart, the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry graduates over 100 students from its Doctor of Dental Dentistry degree. Most of this school’s graduates either go on to obtain post-graduate training or earn advanced degrees in oral biology.
During their second year, UCLA students start their hands-on patient care. They continue to gain clinical experiences through their rotations in various community service projects and specialty clinics, allowing them to provide direct care to a wide range of patient groups.
The University of Washington’s School of Dentistry ranked #2 in last year’s Academic Ranking of World Universities by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
Dentistry students are given opportunities not all dentistry students are fortunate to have. University of Washington offers invaluable experiences through the following:
Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities to gain clinical experiences in places such as Seattle Children’s Hospital, Harborview Medical Center, and the School of Dentistry’s very own clinics.
Another Ivy League school made it to this list of top 10 best dental schools in the United States. University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine has a rich history in dentistry, established in 1878.
The University of Pennsylvania provides DMD students with various degree options such as degrees in:
The school provides a wide range of clinical opportunities for its studies, with outreach programs for the community. Its Primary Care Unit provides dental care and services to approximately 22,000 patients annually.
The University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine (UBDM) is a reputable institution with a rich history grounded on its legacy of advancing oral health.
UBDM provides comprehensive study programs to its dentistry students, focusing both on research and clinical practice. Students start their clinical training during the first year of the program.
There are approximately 500 students, pursuing either a DDS degree or a dual degree program of DDS with a Master of Business Administration degree.
New York University (NYU) dental school is considered as the largest in the United States. Nearly 10% of US dentists have earned their degrees at NYU.
The school produces one of the largest numbers of graduates. Its College of Dentistry graduates nearly 400 DDS students each year.
Dentistry students take courses in different clinical, behavioral, and biomedical areas. NYU provides extensive clinical experiences involving diverse sets of patients.
Real-world experiences are gained throughout a student’s four years of education as they work closely with the faculty, their group, and practice directors.
NYU caters to approximately 300,000 patients every year, providing top notch experience and opportunities unlike anywhere else.
Columbia University is a world-class option for dentistry students. The Columbia University College of Dental Medicine offers dental education in an academic and medical setting.
The school enables dental students to work with distinguished faculty members to pursue research, while also giving them the opportunity to work with the school's medical students during their pre-clinical years.
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine has a very stringent admissions process. Their acceptance rate is just 5.1%. This means that every year, only around 84 students are accepted into their program.
Here is a list of all the dental schools in the U.S. accredited by the American Dental Education Association:7
|Alabama||University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry||Rm. 406|
1919 7th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
|Arizona||A.T. Still University Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health||5850 E. Still Cir.|
Mesa, AZ 85206
|Arizona||Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine - Arizona||19555 N 59th Ave.|
Glendale, AZ 85308
|California||Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC||925 West 34th St. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0641||(909) 558-4222|
|California||Loma Linda University School of Dentistry||11092 Anderson St., Loma Linda, CA 92350||(213) |
|California||University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry||714 Tiverton Los Angeles, CA 90095||(310) |
|California||University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry||707 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94143, United States||(415) |
|California||University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry||155 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, United States||(415) |
|California||Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine||309 E. Second St. Pomona, CA 91766-1854||(909) 623-6116|
|Colorado||The University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine||13065 East 17th Avenue|
Aurora, CO 80045
|Connecticut||University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine||263 Farmington Ave, Farmington, CT 06030, United States||(844) 388-2666|
|District of Columbia||Howard University College of Dentistry||600 W St NW #2005, Washington, DC 20059, United States||(202) 806-6100|
|Florida||Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Dental Medicine||4800 Lakewood Ranch Boulevard|
Bradenton FL 34211-4909
|Florida||Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine||3301 College Avenue Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796||(800) 541-6682|
|Florida||University of Florida College of Dentistry||1395 Center Drive Gainesville, FL 32610||(352) 273-6700|
|Georgia||Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University||1430 John Wesley Gilbert Drive, Augusta, GA 30912, United States||(706) |
|Illinois||Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Illinois||555 31st Street Downers Grove, IL 60515||(630) |
|Illinois||Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine||2800 College Ave, Alton, IL 62002, United States||(618) 474-7000|
|Illinois||University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry||801 S Paulina St.|
Chicago, IL 60612
|Indiana||Indiana University School of Dentistry||1121 W Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46202, United States||(317) |
|Iowa||The University of Iowa College of Dentistry & Dental Clinics||801 Newton Rd, Iowa City, IA 52242, United States||(319) |
|Kentucky||University of Kentucky College of Dentistry||800 Rose St, Lexington, KY 40536, United States||(859) 323-3368|
|Kentucky||University of Louisville School of Dentistry||501 S Preston St, Louisville, KY 40202, United States||(502) 852-5096|
|Louisiana||Louisiana State University Health New Orleans School of Dentistry||1100 Florida Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States||(504) 619-8700|
|Maine||University of New England College of Dental Medicine||11 Hills Beach Road|
Biddeford, Maine 04005
|Maryland||University of Maryland School of Dentistry||650 W Baltimore St, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States||(410) |
|Massachusetts||Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine||635 Albany St, Boston, MA 02118, United States||(617) |
|Massachusetts||Harvard School of Dental Medicine||188 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, United States||(617) |
|Massachusetts||Tufts University School of Dental Medicine||1 Kneeland St, Boston, MA 02111, United States||(617) |
|Michigan||University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry||2700 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208, United States||(313) 494-6700|
|Michigan||University of Michigan School of Dentistry||1011 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, United States||(734) 763-6933|
|Minnesota||University of Minnesota School of Dentistry||515 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, United States||(612) |
|Mississippi||University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry||2500 N State St, Jackson, MS 39216, United States||(601) 984-1000|
|Missouri||A.T. Still University Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health||500 W Jefferson St, Kirksville, MO 63501, United States||(866) 626-2878|
|Missouri||University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry||650 E 25th St, Kansas City, MO 64108, United States||(816) |
|Nebraska||Creighton University School of Dentistry||2109 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States||(402) 280-5990|
|Nebraska||University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry||4000 E Campus Loop, Lincoln, NE 68583, United States||(402) 472-1333|
|Nevada||University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine||1001 Shadow Ln, Las Vegas, NV 89106, United States||(702) 774-2400|
|New Jersey||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Dental Medicine||110 Bergen St, Newark, NJ 07103, United States||(973) 972-4242|
|New York||Columbia University College of Dental Medicine||622 W 168th St, New York, NY 10032, United States||(212) |
|New York||NYU College of Dentistry||345 E 24th St, New York, NY 10010, United States||(212) |
|New York||Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine||South Dr, Stony Brook, NY 11794, United States||(631) 632-8989|
|New York||Touro College of Dental Medicine at New York Medical College||19 Skyline Dr, Hawthorne, NY 10532, United States||(914) 594-2700|
|New York||University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine||3435 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14214, United States||(716) |
|North Carolina||East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine||1851 MacGregor Downs Rd, Greenville, NC 27834, United States||(252) 737-7000|
|North Carolina||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry||385 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, United States||(919) |
|Ohio||Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine||9601 Chester Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States||(216) |
|Ohio||The Ohio State University College of Dentistry||305 W 12th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210, United States||(614) 688-3763|
|Oklahoma||University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry||1201 N Stonewall Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73117, United States||(405) |
|Oregon||Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry||611 SW Campus Dr, Portland, OR 97239, United States||(503) 494-8311|
|Pennsylvania||The Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry, Temple University||3223 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19140, United States||(215) |
|Pennsylvania||University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine||240 S 40th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States||(215) |
|Pennsylvania||University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine||3501 Terrace St, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, United States||(412) |
|South Carolina||Medical University of South Carolina James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine||173 Ashley Ave, Charleston, SC 29425, United States||(843) 792-2101|
|Tennessee||Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry||1005 Dr DB Todd Jr Blvd, Nashville, TN 37208, United States||(615) |
|Tennessee||University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry||875 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103, United States||(901) 448-6468|
|Texas||Texas A&M College of Dentistry||3302 Gaston Ave, Dallas, TX 75246, United States||(214) |
|Texas||University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston||7500 Cambridge St, Houston, TX 77054, United States||(713) |
|Texas||UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry||7703 Floyd Curl Dr, San Antonio, TX 78229, United States||(210) |
|Utah||Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine - South Jordan, Utah||10920 S River Front Pkwy, South Jordan, UT 84095, United States||(801) |
|Utah||University of Utah School of Dentistry||530 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, United States||(801) |
|Virginia||Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry||520 N 12th St, Richmond, VA 23298, United States||(804) 828-9190|
|Washington||University of Washington School of Dentistry||1959 NE Pacific St B-307, Seattle, WA 98195, United States||(206) |
|West Virginia||West Virginia University School of Dentistry||1 Medical Center Dr, Morgantown, WV 26505, United States||(304) 293-6208|
|Wisconsin||Marquette University School of Dentistry||1801 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233, United States||(414) |
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"Dentists." Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 29-1021 Dentists, General." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"U.S. Dental School Applicants and Enrollees, 2020 Entering Class." ADEA Reports, American Dental Education Association.
"Education." American Dental Association.
"Specialty Definitions." Recognized Dental Specialties, National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards.
"Deciding Where to Apply." American Dental Education Association.