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It takes around 8 years of education to become a dentist. You need a bachelor’s degree in any field, preferably in the sciences. Then, you must obtain a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from a dental school.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that dentist jobs will grow 6% by 2031. Dentistry is a popular career choice, thanks to a consistent need for clinicians and a median annual salary of around $160,000.2
Most dental schools are highly competitive. These programs offer the foundation of academic learning and hands-on experience needed to pass national and state examinations.
The top 10 dental schools in the U.S. are:
Here are the top 10 dental schools in the U.S., according to ShanghaiRanking’s 2022 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects:1
The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has a wide network of affiliated clinics that provide extensive opportunities and exposure for dentistry students.
The school has 120 full-time faculty members handling 15 different programs. You can pursue an MBA or PhD while getting your DDS. You can also pursue a Master’s degree in an advanced specialization such as:
The school also provides community dental care and oral health services.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry has consistently been on the list of the best dental schools in the U.S.
Its DDS Program boasts a curriculum that follows the Advocate-Clinician-Thinker (ACT) premise. Dentistry students are trained to be problem-solvers and act as their patients’ advocates.
Students gain clinical experience through 50 rotation sites in North Carolina, with two free student-led dental clinics. These clinics provide dental and oral care to more than 90,000 patients annually.
Regarding top dental school rankings, Harvard University never falls off the list — both in the country and in dental schools worldwide. This Ivy League school houses one of the best dental schools in the U.S.
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.
HDSM has a robust research component, with nine research labs where students can work.
Students gain hands-on experiences through clinical rotations at the Harvard Dental Center, which caters to more than 25,000 patients yearly.
The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry admits 88 students yearly to its Doctor of Dental Surgery degree program.
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 rotations in various community service projects and specialty clinics.
After graduation, UCLA students can participate in a dental residency program offered by the school. Students pursuing specialized residencies can choose from fields such as:
The University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry provides students with clinical education and research opportunities. It produces more than 100 graduates each year.
Hands-on experiences happen at the school’s dental center, which sees more than 120,000 patients annually.
The UCSF School of Dentistry also scores high points for research. It has been the number one U.S. dental school based on funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They have a Center to Address Disparities in Children’s Oral Health that studies ways to improve the overall oral health in children where tooth decay is more frequent.
The University of Washington’s School of Dentistry ranked second in last year’s Academic Ranking of World Universities by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
Dentistry students gain experiences through a:
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 specialty clinics.
UW students can go on to pursue advanced degrees in specialties like endodontics and periodontics, or go further with a PhD.
Another Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine, was established in 1878.
The University of Pennsylvania provides DMD students with various dual-degree options:
Students can pursue additional advanced degrees or residencies.
The school also provides students a wide range of clinical opportunities, 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) provides comprehensive study programs to its dentistry students, focusing on research and clinical practice.
UBDM has multiple departments that specialize in various areas of dentistry, including:
Students start their clinical training during the first year. Approximately 500 students are pursuing either a DDS degree or a dual degree program of DDS with a Master of Business Administration degree.
Since its establishment in 1882, the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics has been a leading institution in patient care, dental education, and oral science research. It is the only dental school in Iowa, with 78% of the state’s dentists graduating from this university.
Their dental program is comprehensive and competitive. It focuses on teaching its students the importance of critical thinking and problem-based learning. Their dental clinics see over 170,000 patients annually.
The university offers several unique specializations in the form of advanced degrees or residencies. Some standouts from their program are:
New York University (NYU) dental school is considered the largest in the U.S. Nearly 10% of U.S. dentists have earned their degrees at NYU. 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 patients.
Real-world experiences are prominent at NYU. Students work closely with the faculty, their group, and practice directors. NYU’s dental school cares for approximately 300,000 patients annually.
You’ll need to consider several factors when choosing a dental school. These can help you determine the program’s quality and if it fits your needs.
Major factors to consider include:
It's best to go to a dental school with students who have graduated and are already practicing dentistry. If a program is too new to have graduates, it can be more difficult to evaluate its quality.
You may consider contacting alumni from each of your potential dental schools to discuss their experience and whether they recommend the school.
Location may be important if you want to stay in a certain region. If you must commute, consider the time it takes to travel from home to school. If you plan to live on or near campus, research dental schools that offer student housing.
You may also want to consider whether you’d enjoy living in the school’s town before selecting it. Dental schools often have strong ties to their community, so you’ll be interacting with the local population.
The curriculum each school offers will determine what kind of education you'll receive. For example, some dental schools only focus on basic science courses first, while others blend them into clinical rotations. Others may also require pre-clinical training before starting clinical work.
Some schools provide more hands-on training than others. This could mean that the dental experiences are clinical or community-centric. If you learn by doing, consider schools with more robust hands-on training.
Clinical experiences will differ at each dental school. Explore program options if you have an interest in working with a certain population or niche.
Some schools specialize in research, while others focus on patient care. You might find yourself doing more lab work at one school than another.
If you have a strong interest in research, check to see how much funding each program receives. Research funding adds credibility to a dental school and may improve its ranking. It also indicates how much research opportunity there may be for students.
Schools vary widely in terms of facilities. In some cases, other schools may require you to pay extra money to use certain equipment or labs.
Some schools offer a generalist dental program. Others may offer different concentrations.
Specializations may include oral and craniofacial medicine, pediatric dentistry, and oral and maxillofacial surgery.
The American Dental Association (ADA) reviews dental school programs and determines their accreditation status. Accreditation from the ADA indicates a program meets a rigorous quality standard.
Attending an accredited dental school is essential for a successful career. If your school isn’t ADA-accredited, you may receive a lower quality education or be ineligible to pass national and state examinations.
The past 20 years have shown fluctuations in dental school enrollments. For example, the first 3 years of the 2000s showed a steady increase in enrollments, followed by a decline the following 4 years.4
The good news is that, since 2008, the numbers have risen steadily.4 With a projected 6% growth in dentist jobs in the next 10 years—an average of 5,100 dentists yearly—enrollment numbers are expected to increase.2
Here are some important dental school applicant statistics from the ADA and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA):4,5
Other highlights from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data include:2,3
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) |
The top 10 dental schools in the U.S. include the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Harvard.
These dental schools are accredited by the ADA and offer high-quality, rigorous education for future dentists. They may provide unique specializations, hands-on experiences, and research opportunities.
Consider factors such as student body, location, research funding, curriculum, and facilities when choosing a dental school. If you have an interest in a certain niche, find a school that offers a specialization in your desired focus area.
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