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Pre-Dental Preparation

Freshman Checklist

  • Meet with your pre-professional advisor
  • Begin basic science courses
  • Join campus student organizations
  • Get tutoring if you need it!
  • Subscribe to and read science journals and/or news magazines
  • Seek and begin volunteer/ community experience (and continue throughout undergraduate years)

Sophomore Checklist

  • Choose a major (if you haven't already done so)
  • Explore all health career options
  • Start becoming familiar with requirements for various programs
  • Seek summer internships or research experience
  • Research schools in which you are interested, see "Web sites" listed below in this sidebar for a good start

Junior Checklist

  • Attend the University Professional and Graduate School Fair
  • Make a list of schools you are interested in and research them thoroughly
  • Find out the earliest date to submit an application
  • Take appropriate entrance exam
  • Reality check: What are your chances?  GPA? Experience? Personal attributes?
  • Apply to schools (anytime from late spring through mid fall) Consider taking valuable electives: Biochemistry, Genetics, Communication, Microbiology, Ethics, Foreign Language
  • Ask people to write letters of recommendation

Senior Checklist

  • Retake entrance exam, if necessary
  • Confirm that you meet graduation requirements
  • Ask people to write letters of recommendation
  • Complete secondary applications if necessary
  • Prepare for interviews
  • Confirm your commitment
  • Seek honors & scholarships for graduate school
  • Send appropriate people thank you notes and inform them of your success or future plans

Web Sites


Exploring Dentistry

The dental profession is dedicated to maintaining the health of teeth, gums and other hard and soft tissue of the oral cavity. In addition to providing direct care, dentists can also teach, conduct research and work in public and international health. Dentists can also perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease, as well as extract teeth and make models and measurements for dentures. They also administer anesthetics, write prescriptions for certain medications, and oversee the operation of their business if they are in private practice.


You can major in any undergraduate degree program provided you include the required pre-dental prerequisite courses in your curriculum. Students must prepare themselves with a basic background in chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology as well as the social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. Beyond this basic preparation, you should choose a major in what interests you. Students are advised to consult with the Pre-Professional School advisor at each stage of dental school preparation and the application process; assistance is available through individual advising sessions, workshops, mock interviews, and personal statement critiques.

Course Requirements

Requirements vary by school but the following courses are generally required. For specific requirements see the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools which can be found on their website at It is the applicant's responsibility to determine the specific requirements of each program to which they are applying.  Consult with your pre-professional advisor for course planning. 

Additional recommended courses : Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology, Genetics, Immunology, Introduction to Biochemistry, Statistics, Speech, Calculus, Art and Sculpture.

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

The Dental Admission Test is a comprehensive examination administered on computers at the Sylvan Learning Center/Prometric Testing Services throughout the US. Candidates may schedule a test date on almost any day, and your test scores are available immediately.  The DAT consists of sections in biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, reading comprehension, perceptual ability and quantitative reasoning. In addition to these sections you are given an overall science score and an academic average. The actual test time is approximately 4 hours. The application is available. You should take the examination the year before you plan to enter dental school.

Extracurricular Activities

Clinical experience is required for admission to just about all dental schools. It does not matter if the student was paid or a volunteer; admission committees want to know that an applicant can work effectively in a health care environment. It is also important for a competitive applicant to have participated in extracurricular activities. Often students must support themselves financially and work becomes their primary extracurricular activity. However, it is important that students also become involved in community and campus service, organized sports, research, personal interests - all can be important in the admission process. It is very important that you have some type of dental experience whether it is observational or actual work for a dentist. Dental schools want to be certain that you have knowledge of the field.

Application Process

The American Association of Dental School Application Service (AADSAS)

Applications are available on the AADSAS website, in the beginning of May. You can obtain applications from non-AADSAS schools by contacting them directly. Applications can be submitted beginning June 1.  The service AADSAS provides is to verify transcripts, and forward your application and letters of recommendation to the dental schools to which you are applying. You will find complete instructions in the AADSAS application materials. For non-AADSAS schools there is just a single application. The final stage of the application process is the personal interview.

Letters of Recommendation

All dental schools require letters of recommendation, usually 1-2 from science faculty and one from a dentist. The time to submit the letters will vary, so it is best to check the instructions of each school to which you are applying. AADSAS offers a Letters of Recommendation Service.

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