The best way to explore the field of dentistry is to talk to dentists and observe them in practice. All dental schools require shadowing so that applicants can learn what the profession entails and whether they will be happy as dentists. Careers in Healthcare recommends students shadow a general dentist as well as one or more dental specialties (pediatric dentistry, endodontics, orthodontics, etc.) See a list of ADA recognized dental specialties.
Most successful applicants shadow during the summer and engage in other activities during the academic year. Some applicants also explore dentistry by working in a dental office, either as an assistant or in a receptionist/administrative role.
Dental schools generally require the following courses:
- 3 quarters of biology with lab
- 3 quarters of general chemistry with lab
- 3 quarters of organic chemistry with lab
- 3 quarters of physics with lab
- 3 quarters of humanities and/or courses in the English Department
- 1 quarter of biochemistry
- 1 quarter of statistics
For dental school pre-requisites, review the 2023 ADEA Course Requirements.
Research and Community Service
Although research is not required for admissions, dental schools value the experience applicants gain from undergraduate research. Subjects can include basic science, biomedical, and clinical research, as well as policy, social science, and health systems research. Schools value applicants who are dedicated to improving their communities and understanding the challenges that underserved populations face, especially in terms of healthcare.
CIH recommends that all applicants to dental school volunteer in the community. Click here to access the CIH Volunteer Opportunity Database, and explore opportunities to give back to the Chicago community.
RBH ORAL HEALTH FELLOWS
Sponsored by the George E. Richmond Foundation, the RBH Oral Health Fellows Program provides financial support to students who have an interest in pursuing a substantive summer internship related to oral health. Funding is also provided to Fellows who wish to attend oral health-related conferences following their summer experience.
Taking the DAT
The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a multiple-choice test required by all dental schools evaluates natural sciences abilities, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.
Applicants should complete the DAT by the end of July during the summer that they are submitting their primary application. There are no set test dates, and applicants can take the test year-round at their convenience.
Applying to Dental School
Applying to dental school is a lengthy process and comprised of three steps: the primary application, secondary applications, and interviews. Applicants will submit their primary and secondary applications during the summer, interview throughout the following academic year, and matriculate into dental school in the following summer.
Applicants who want to matriculate right after graduation will begin the application process during the summer between their third and fourth years. Applicants who will take one gap year will apply in the summer after they graduate.
The primary application, called the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service, is a common, web-based application that contains applicants’ biographical and educational information, experiences, personal statement, letters of recommendation, Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores, and school list. It opens in mid-May and Careers in Healthcare recommends that you submit by mid-June.
Once dental schools have received your primary AADSAS application, they will invite you to submit a secondary application, which contains essay questions specific to the school. Complete your secondary applications in a timely manner, ideally within two weeks of receiving it and by mid-August at the latest.
Dental schools interview applicants to assess whether they have the soft skills and communication skills necessary to be competent clinicians. When you have an interview invite, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a mock interview.