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Applying to dental school takes time to do well and typically costs a hefty fee. Time and cost will vary depending on the school(s) you apply to.
You’ll need a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree to practice general dentistry or any of its specialties like orthodontics and oral surgery. To become a dental assistant, hygienist, or laboratory technician, you need different (less intensive) degrees.
With a degree from dental school and a dental license from your state’s regulatory agency, you can cultivate a fulfilling and rewarding career.
Here’s what you need to know about applying to dental school:
Anyone can apply to dental school, but there are some prerequisites that dental school applicants need to complete before applying. These prerequisites include:
Most dental students have four years of college already under their belts. However, a few dental schools may have early admissions programs that admit students with two to three years of undergraduate preparation.
While many obtain a bachelor’s degree in a science field, doing so is not required but recommended. Most dental schools will look to see if you have studied science before.
Regardless of whether or not you have an undergraduate degree, you must finish a few prerequisite courses.
These pre-dental science requirements are:
You’ll also need to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) at least a year before dental school. Having at least a year of college-level biology and chemistry courses would be helpful to pass this test.
Applying to dental school requires ample time and effort. To apply to dental school, you may need to prepare the following:
Admissions requirements will vary depending on the school(s) you’re applying to. Still, it’s always better to be overprepared with more materials than necessary than underprepared.
The dental school application process is time-consuming but straightforward. Here's what you need to know:
You can apply to the dental schools participating in the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) online on the American ADEA website here.
The application cycle typically opens on or around June 1, and the application deadline is around February 1. It’s important to note that the ADEA does not make admissions decisions; it is just a centralized application service. Each individual school will have its own admissions committee.
Here are the application steps you will take:
PO Box 9110
Watertown, MA 02471 3
From there, the ADEA will verify your transcripts, import your DAT scores, and send your information off to your chosen dental schools. The dental schools will then apply their own admissions process.
The admissions committee will typically review your application materials and any supplemental information you share. They may interview you, request additional information, or send you a supplementary application.
If you are chosen, they will send you an offer of admission and enrollment information.
The ADEA AADSAS charges $259 (USD) for the first program to which you apply and $112 for each additional program to which you apply. Some programs may have supplemental fees, as well.
Fee assistance is available for qualifying applicants. Learn more about whether or not you qualify for financial aid here.
The Dental Admissions Test (DAT), sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA), is a computerized test. It measures your general academic and perceptual ability and your comprehension of science.
It consists of four key elements:
Each test is scored on a scale of one to 30, though the Survey of Natural Sciences test takes the average of your three sub-scores for biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry.
You can take the DAT at any Prometric test center in the United States, U.S. territories (including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands), and Canada.
Prospective dental students generally take the DAT during their junior year in college. This is about one year prior to their admission to dental school.
Taking the Prometric test early gives students ample time to apply to school and retake the test if necessary. You can retake the DAT if you don’t achieve your desired score, but you should aim to take the test only once, as retakes are limited.
To register for the DAT, you must apply for a Dental Personal Identification Number (DENTPIN) here.
The DENTPIN is a unique identifier for all people taking the DAT. It's an eight-digit number that helps protect your personal identifying information.
Those who have previously applied to take the DAT must use their existing DENTPIN if they want to retake the test.
The dental school application process is competitive and rigorous. To help you with this journey, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Applying to dental school can be a long and complicated process.
Some steps you need to take for application include submitting your ADEA AADSAS application, requesting letters of evaluation, and scheduling the DAT.
Early preparation and researching your desired dental schools can help you increase your chances of acceptance.
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