University General Course Catalog 2017-2018 
    Jun 07, 2023  

Dentistry, Preparatory

Dentistry is the branch of the healing arts and sciences devoted to maintaining the health of the teeth, gums, and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity. Contrary to popular notions, dentists engage in far more than the limited concept of “treating teeth.” The care dentists give contributes to the quality of their patients’ lives by preventing tooth decay, periodontal disease, malocclusion and oral-facial anomalies. Furthermore, dentists are instrumental in early detection of oral cancer and systemic infectious conditions of the body that manifest themselves in the mouth.

Although most dental schools require a minimum of three years of pre-dental course work, 85 percent of entering dental students have completed four years of college and 75 percent have completed at least a baccalaureate degree. It is wise to work toward a degree in any area which would serve as an attractive alternative in the event you were deterred from your goal in dentistry.

Required Pre-dental Course Work

Pre-dentistry is not a major, but a set of courses required by dental schools for admission. Any major is appropriate as long as the student fulfills all pre-dental requirements, be it through required or electives courses. All required pre-dental courses should be taken for a letter grade. Choose a major according to your strengths and interests.

The basic course requirements of the majority of the dental schools are listed below. Most of this course work is also covered on the Dental Admission Test (DAT). You should take the examination approximately one year before you plan to enter dental school. It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine the requirements of the school(s) of his/her choice and to fulfill these requirements before the projected date of entrance. High school students are advised to gain a strong foundation in math and sciences.

The basic course requirements of most dental schools are:




12 semester credits–some schools specify one year of biology with lab.






In addition, other courses such as calculus, genetics, cell biology, and course work in humanities, arts and social sciences are recommended or required by some schools. Check the requirements of each school to which you are going to apply. The Advising Center, Edmund J. Cain Hall, Suite 102, has a pre-health careers resource library, which includes the American Association of Dental School Admission Requirements.

Application Process

Most dental schools belong to a centralized application service (AADSAS) that allows students to apply through one initial application. AADSAS applications are submitted in the summer one year prior to entering dental school. All schools require applicants to take the DAT, which consists of test sections in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, reading comprehension, quantitative ability (math), and perceptual ability (spatial judgment).

Letters of Recommendation: All dental schools require letters of recommendation, usually one to two 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 provides a Letter of Recommendation Service for Dental School applicants.  For more information go to

Beyond the satisfactory completion of minimum requirements, selection for admission is based on many factors, including undergraduate grade point average, DAT scores, letters of recommendation, an interview, personal statement, extracurricular activities, and awareness of and experiences in health related fields.  One should plan to apply to dental school the summer before his/her senior year - one year in advance of the intended date of enrollment.