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Most schools require a minimum of 2 years of undergraduate education (also called pre-dental education). However, most dental students have at least a bachelor's degree. According to ADEA: Official Guide to Dental Schools, of all the United States students entering dental schools, more than 90% had completed 4 or more years of college. When selecting students, schools consider scores earned on the Dental Admission Test (DAT), the applicant's grade point average, and information gathered through recommendations and interviews.
Aside from prerequisite courses, it is recommended that students engage in extracurricular activities such as volunteering in a dental setting and community service. Pre-dental students should be able to demonstrate their potential for independent critical thought, leadership, concern for others, and an understanding of the dental profession. Additionally, pre-dental students should work at developing and/or improving manual dexterity and eye-hand-coordination.
Any major is appropriate for dental school preparation. While a science major requires many of the same basic pre-requisites, selecting a science major is not required for admission to any dental school. Students are advised to select a major they find interesting and to work at developing a broad-based, interdisciplinary foundation of knowledge and skills from which they can build upon.
Prerequisite admission requirements vary from school to school. For the specific requirements at individual dental schools, refer to ADEA: Official Guide to Dental Schools available in the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) website: Listed below are the prerequisite admission requirements for most U. S. Dental schools.
This is NOT a comprehensive list of prerequisites for all programs. Students maintain responsibility for verifying course selection with individual programs.
IVC Courses that fulfill admission requirements for dental schools:
Pre-dental Coursework
IVC Courses
One year of General Chemistry with lab
CHEM 1A & 1B
One year of Organic Chemistry with lab
CHEM 12A & 12B
One year of General Biology with lab
BIO 5 & (BIO 6/6L OR BIO 99/99L); OR
BIO 93/93L & BIO 94
One year of General Physics with lab
PHYS 2A & 2B OR PHYS 4A & 4B
One year of English (Comp. and Lit.)
WR 1 & WR 2
Recommended courses (required at some schools):
Pre-requisite Courses
IVC Courses
Additional courses in biology, including anatomy
BIO 11 (required at University of Pacific)
One or more courses in Psychology
PSYC 1 (required at UCLA, UCSF)
One or more courses in Biochemistry
Required at UCLA, UCSF & Loma Linda
One semester to one year of Math (Calculus)
MATH 3A & 3B
One course in Statistics
Other courses for consideration include: anatomy, histology, physiology, microbiology, social sciences, communication, business, technical writing, fine arts, drafting, sculpting, engineering, speech, and foreign language.
All United States dental schools require applicants to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). All Canadian schools require the Canadian Aptitude Test. The American Dental Association states that successful participation in the Dental Admission Test Program requires completion of at least one year of collegiate education (courses in Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry). The DAT is entirely multiple-choice and consists of 4 separate sections:
a. Survey of Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry)
b. Perceptual Ability (Two- and three-dimensional problem-solving)
c. Reading Comprehension (Dental and Basic Science)
d. Quantitative Reasoning (Mathematical problems in algebra, numerical calculations, conversions, etc.)
Schools vary in their emphasis on the different parts of the test. The DAT is administered on computer almost any day of the year. Applicants should register to take the DAT at least one month before the intended test date.
The UCLA School of Dentistry offers pre-dental laboratory courses to strengthen perceptual skills. These courses are offered over weekend days a few times a year. Visit the following website for additional information: and click DDS Degrees/Pre-Dental Courses.
The Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) is a centralized application service sponsored by American Dental Education Association (ADEA). This web-based service is required of all students applying to the 59 dental schools that participate in the application service. AADSAS simplifies the application process by allowing applicants to complete only one application form. AADSAS then sends the applicant's information in a standardized format to the dental schools that the applicant listed on the AADSAS application. Applications for dental schools that do not participate in AADSAS can be obtained directly from the individual schools.
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