Top Dental Schools in the United States

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by Dr. Lara Coseo
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Best Dental Schools in the U.S. [2021 Ranking]

Quick Overview

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:

  • Student body
  • Geographical location
  • Curriculum type
  • Dental experiences provided (clinical or community-centric)
  • Research or clinical focus
  • Facilities
  • Overall Reputation

ShanghaiRanking’s 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities has named the following as the top 5 dental schools in the United States:1

  • The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor School of Dentistry
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry
  • Harvard School of Dental Medicine
  • The University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry
  • The University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry 

Highlights from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data include:2

  • There are currently 139,200 dentists in the country
  • From 2020-2030, there’s a projected 8% growth in job outlook
  • From 2020-2030, about 5,000 dentist jobs are expected to open up each year
  • The average annual salary for dentists is $180,8303

Dental School Applicant Statistics

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: 

  • In 2020, there were 10,965 dental school applicants for first-time first-year students all over the country.4
  • Of this number, 57.1% enrolled in a dental school which translates to 6,317 new first-year dental student enrollees.4
  • There were 6,350 dental school students who graduated in 2019.5 
  • The class of 2020 had 6,609 graduates.5 
  • The number of dental school graduates increased by 4% from 2019 to 2020.

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

  • Endodontics
  • Dental Anesthesiology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Public Health Dentistry

Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain are dental specialties also recognized by the ADA and the NCRDSCB.

Top 10 Dental Schools in the United States

Here are the top 10 dental schools in the US according to ShanghaiRanking’s 2021 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects:1

  1. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

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.

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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.

  1. Harvard University

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.

  1. University of California, San Francisco

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. 

  1. University of California, Los Angeles

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.

  1. University of Washington

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:

  • A mobile geriatric clinic
  • A specialty clinic for persons with disabilities
  • A specialty clinic for people with psychological conditions and significant dental fears

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.

  1. University of Pennsylvania

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:

  • Bioethics
  • Business Administration
  • Education
  • Law
  • Public Health

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.

  1. University at Buffalo, the State University of New York

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. 

  1. New York University

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.

  1. Columbia University

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.

Full List of Accredited Dental Schools in the United States

Here is a list of all the dental schools in the U.S. accredited by the American Dental Education Association:7

StateSchoolAddressContact No.
AlabamaUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham School of DentistryRm. 406
1919 7th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
(205) 934-3000
ArizonaA.T. Still University Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health5850 E. Still Cir.
Mesa, AZ 85206
ArizonaMidwestern University College of Dental Medicine - Arizona19555 N 59th Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85308
(623) 572-3200
CaliforniaHerman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC925 West 34th St. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0641(909) 558-4222
CaliforniaLoma Linda University School of Dentistry11092 Anderson St., Loma Linda, CA 92350(213)
CaliforniaUniversity of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry714 Tiverton Los Angeles, CA 90095(310)
CaliforniaUniversity of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry707 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94143, United States(415)
CaliforniaUniversity of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry155 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, United States(415)
CaliforniaWestern University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine309 E. Second St. Pomona, CA 91766-1854(909) 623-6116
ColoradoThe University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine13065 East 17th Avenue
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-6900
ConnecticutUniversity of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine263 Farmington Ave, Farmington, CT 06030, United States(844) 388-2666
District of ColumbiaHoward University College of Dentistry600 W St NW #2005, Washington, DC 20059, United States(202) 806-6100
FloridaLake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Dental Medicine4800 Lakewood Ranch Boulevard
Bradenton FL 34211-4909
(941) 405-1600
FloridaNova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine3301 College Avenue Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796(800) 541-6682
FloridaUniversity of Florida College of Dentistry1395 Center Drive Gainesville, FL 32610(352) 273-6700
GeorgiaDental College of Georgia at Augusta University1430 John Wesley Gilbert Drive, Augusta, GA 30912, United States(706)
IllinoisMidwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Illinois555 31st Street Downers Grove, IL 60515(630)
IllinoisSouthern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine2800 College Ave, Alton, IL 62002, United States(618) 474-7000
IllinoisUniversity of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry801 S Paulina St.
Chicago, IL 60612
United States
IndianaIndiana University School of Dentistry1121 W Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46202, United States(317)
IowaThe University of Iowa College of Dentistry & Dental Clinics801 Newton Rd, Iowa City, IA 52242, United States(319)
KentuckyUniversity of Kentucky College of Dentistry800 Rose St, Lexington, KY 40536, United States(859) 323-3368
KentuckyUniversity of Louisville School of Dentistry501 S Preston St, Louisville, KY 40202, United States(502) 852-5096
LouisianaLouisiana State University Health New Orleans School of Dentistry1100 Florida Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States(504) 619-8700
MaineUniversity of New England College of Dental Medicine11 Hills Beach Road
Biddeford, Maine 04005
(800) 477-4863
MarylandUniversity of Maryland School of Dentistry650 W Baltimore St, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States(410)
MassachusettsBoston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine635 Albany St, Boston, MA 02118, United States(617)
MassachusettsHarvard School of Dental Medicine188 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, United States(617)
MassachusettsTufts University School of Dental Medicine1 Kneeland St, Boston, MA 02111, United States(617)
MichiganUniversity of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry2700 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208, United States(313) 494-6700
MichiganUniversity of Michigan School of Dentistry1011 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, United States(734) 763-6933
MinnesotaUniversity of Minnesota School of Dentistry515 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, United States(612)
MississippiUniversity of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry2500 N State St, Jackson, MS 39216, United States(601) 984-1000
MissouriA.T. Still University Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health500 W Jefferson St, Kirksville, MO 63501, United States(866) 626-2878
MissouriUniversity of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry650 E 25th St, Kansas City, MO 64108, United States(816)
NebraskaCreighton University School of Dentistry2109 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68102, United States(402) 280-5990
NebraskaUniversity of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry4000 E Campus Loop, Lincoln, NE 68583, United States(402) 472-1333
NevadaUniversity of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine1001 Shadow Ln, Las Vegas, NV 89106, United States(702) 774-2400
New JerseyRutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Dental Medicine110 Bergen St, Newark, NJ 07103, United States(973) 972-4242
New YorkColumbia University College of Dental Medicine622 W 168th St, New York, NY 10032, United States(212)
New YorkNYU College of Dentistry345 E 24th St, New York, NY 10010, United States(212)
New YorkStony Brook University School of Dental MedicineSouth Dr, Stony Brook, NY 11794, United States(631) 632-8989
New YorkTouro College of Dental Medicine at New York Medical College19 Skyline Dr, Hawthorne, NY 10532, United States(914) 594-2700
New YorkUniversity at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine3435 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14214, United States(716)
North CarolinaEast Carolina University School of Dental Medicine1851 MacGregor Downs Rd, Greenville, NC 27834, United States(252) 737-7000
North CarolinaUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry385 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, United States(919)
OhioCase Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine9601 Chester Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States(216)
OhioThe Ohio State University College of Dentistry305 W 12th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210, United States(614) 688-3763
OklahomaUniversity of Oklahoma College of Dentistry1201 N Stonewall Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73117, United States(405)
OregonOregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry611 SW Campus Dr, Portland, OR 97239, United States(503) 494-8311
PennsylvaniaThe Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry, Temple University3223 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19140, United States(215)
PennsylvaniaUniversity of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine240 S 40th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States(215)
PennsylvaniaUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine3501 Terrace St, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, United States(412)
South CarolinaMedical University of South Carolina James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine173 Ashley Ave, Charleston, SC 29425, United States(843) 792-2101
TennesseeMeharry Medical College School of Dentistry1005 Dr DB Todd Jr Blvd, Nashville, TN 37208, United States(615)
TennesseeUniversity of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry875 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103, United States(901) 448-6468
TexasTexas A&M College of Dentistry3302 Gaston Ave, Dallas, TX 75246, United States(214)
TexasUniversity of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston7500 Cambridge St, Houston, TX 77054, United States(713)
TexasUT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry7703 Floyd Curl Dr, San Antonio, TX 78229, United States(210)
UtahRoseman University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine - South Jordan, Utah10920 S River Front Pkwy, South Jordan, UT 84095, United States(801)
UtahUniversity of Utah School of Dentistry530 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, United States(801)
VirginiaVirginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry520 N 12th St, Richmond, VA 23298, United States(804) 828-9190
WashingtonUniversity of Washington School of Dentistry1959 NE Pacific St B-307, Seattle, WA 98195, United States(206)
West VirginiaWest Virginia University School of Dentistry1 Medical Center Dr, Morgantown, WV 26505, United States(304) 293-6208
WisconsinMarquette University School of Dentistry1801 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233, United States(414)


"2021 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects." ShanghaiRanking.

"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.

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