There are many pieces to the dental school application, including your GPA, DAT score, personal statement, list of experiences, letters of recommendation, and biographical information. Use the navigation below to explore each aspect of preparing for dental school.
- What is a Dentist?
A dentist is a doctor who focuses on the health of the teeth, gums and other tissues in and around the mouth.
Dentists can obtain a Doctor of Medical Dentistry (D.M.D.) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.).
See the ADEA GoDental Why be a dentist?
- Becoming a Dentist
Obtain an undergraduate degree (4 years)
Attend dental school and obtain a D.D.S. or D.M.D. (4 years)
Take the National Board Dental Examinations and become licensed in the state you want to practice
After getting a D.M.D. or D.D.S, you can pursue a doctoral degree in Dental Science and go into one of nine specialties:
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology
Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology
Public Health Dentistry
Specialties require at least two additional years of schooling.
- Dental School Prerequisites
- To prepare academically as a pre-dental student, you'll need to take the dental school prerequisites and coursework to prepare for the DAT. School prerequisites and DAT prep coursework overlap but are not the same. DAT prep coursework must be done before you take the DAT and prioritized over non-DAT prerequisites. You can choose any major and apply to medical school. If you choose a non-science major, you still have to take the science prerequisites required by most schools. Always cross-check your major requirements and the medical school requirements when choosing classes.
* Check you major requirements before choosing classes.
Dental School Prerequisites Courses to Take at UC Davis Most schools require: General Chemistry CHE 2ABC General Biology BIS 2ABC Organic Chemistry CHE 118ABC Physics PHY 7ABC English Composition any combination of ENL, UWP, or COM courses Some schools require: Biochemistry* BIS 105 OR BIS 102/103 Microbiology* MIC 102/103L Human Physiology NPB 101/NPB 101L OR NPB 110C/NPB 101L Human Anatomy EXB 106/106L OR CHA 101/101L Psychology PSC 1 Math* MAT 16ABC OR MAT 17ABC OR MAT 21ABC
Note: The above courses are only suggested, not absolute.
See the Dental School Prerequisite Chart for a sample list of dental schools and their requirements.
You can choose any major and apply to dental schools. If you choose a non-science major, you still have to take the science prerequisites required by dental schools. Always cross-check your major requirements and the dental school requirements when choosing classes.
HPA recommends that pre-dental students maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0, although many dental schools will have GPA averages above this minimum.
Complete all of your prerequisite courses for a letter grade - DO NOT take any of them P/NP.
Each dental school has different prerequisites. Check each school's prerequisites before applying.
- Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
The DAT is required by all dental schools. The exam is just over 4 hours long. The exam is offered most days of the year. You can only take the test once every 90 days. The DAT cost $275 each time you take it. Before you sign up for the DAT you should go over the ADA DAT guide.
The exam is designed to test your ability in six areas:
Survey in Natural Sciences (40 Biology Questions, 30 General Chemistry, 30 Organic Chemistry Questions)
HPA recommends that students take the following courses before taking the DAT:
STA 13 or STA 100
NPB 101 or 110ABC
- Pre-Dental Experience
What you do with your time helps define who you are in your application. Whatever you choose to do, be sure you are dedicated, passionate about it, and motivated to pursue it for the right reason!
Here are some good places to start looking for experiences at UC Davis:
Participate in a Dental Enrichment Program
Obtain your X-Ray Technician License
Become a dental assistant
Volunteer at local organized dentistry events, such as CDA Cares and the Sacramento Care Force
Health Related Internships through the Internship and Career Center (ICC)
Opportunities to publish and present research through the Undergraduate Research Center
Certificate Programs in Student Leadership
Global Health Internships through Study Abroad
Internships through the Washington Program
Becoming a Peer Advisor through one of many departments, including the First Year Experience Office
Becoming a Tutor at the Student Academic Success Center
Volunteering for the UC Davis Pre-Health Conference
Completing community service using the ICC Community Service Database
Participate in the planning of Cultural Events on campus
Join or create a student club
Volunteer at a Student Run Clinic
- Applying to Dental Schools
Centralized Application: ADEA AADSAS
ADEA AADSAS opens in June for applicants who are planning to begin dental school the following year.
You will have 4,500 characters (including spaces, carriages, numbers, letters, etc.) to explain why you want to be a dentist. See the ADEA's Tips for Writing a Personal Statement for Dental School.
The personal statement is your first chance to provide dental school admissions committees with subjective information about your qualifications and your reasons for choosing a particular career. In other words, the personal statement is your initial opportunity to present yourself as an interesting and unique applicant who deserves a closer look.
Letters of Recommendation
ADEA AADSAS allows you to submit four letters, but some dental schools might ask you to submit additional letters outside of AADSAS. According to ADEA, most dental schools require two letters from science professors, one from an advisor and one from a dentist
Note: UC Davis does not conduct committee letters.
See the 2019-20 ADEA AADSAS Supplemental Information to learn more about school-specific requirements and costs.
There are over 60 dental schools in the U.S. See the ASDA List of US Dental Schools.
There are a variety of factors that go into choosing which dental schools to apply to, including location, environment (i.e. urban), tuition, class size, focus or mission statement, etc. Spend some time researching schools online and create a spreadsheet that tracks the factors most important to you. HPA also recommends meeting with an advisor to discuss your school list.
Please note that dental schools accept community college work in varying degrees, some accept all transferable work, some a certain amount of units, and others accept a very limited amount. On average, pre-dental students apply to 10 dental schools. It is important to talk to an advisor when creating a school list in order to strategically apply. You can make an appointment at http://hpadvising.ucdavis.edu/.
Dental Schools in California:
Loma Linda University School of Dentistry
Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry
University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry
University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry
Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More questions? Visit our FAQ page or schedule an appointment with an adviser!