Each Dental School has different requirements for prerequisite courses. A curriculum based on chemistry, biology, physics, and liberal arts is required.
*Please note that Dental school requirements vary from school to school. Research schools early for specific information about requirements.
The following courses are generally required for most dental schools:
- Two semesters or three quarters of biology with laboratories
- Two semesters or three quarters of general chemistry with laboratories
- Two semesters or three quarters of organic chemistry with laboratories
- One semester or two quarters of general physics with laboratory
- Two semesters or three quarters of English with emphasis on communications
- One semester or two quarters of microbiology
- One semester or two quarters of biochemistry
US dental schools admit students once a year in the Fall.
Applications are submitted 12-15 months before your desired dental school enrollment date. This means the application process can begin as early as the spring after your Junior year. However, the timing depends on when you will complete your degree and the necessary coursework (and successfully take the DAT).
Dental schools requirements vary from school to school. Research schools early for specific information about requirements.
Dental School Application process includes 5 main components:
- The Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
- Primary Application
- Letters of Recommendation
- Secondary Applications
-AADSAS opens on or around June 1. Begin to fill out primary applications as soon as possible.
-Make final decisions on which dental schools to apply to and submit primary applications.
-Order official transcripts from all colleges and universities that you have attended to be sent to AADSAS
-Have letters of recommendation sent to AADSAS - check individual schools for specific criteria
-AADSAS verifies primary applications and notifies applicants of verification or problems with verification
-Submit supplemental application materials if required by individual dental schools. Generally, you should try to submit supplemental applications within two weeks of receiving them.
-Continue working on and submitting secondary applications.
September – November
-Prepare for and attend interviews.
-Continue to complete and submit secondary applications
-Send dental schools application updates if acceptable
-Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, in October.
-Dental school admissions committees meet and decide status: accept/reject/waitlist.
-Schools begin extending acceptance offers on December 1. Depending on the date of an offer of admission, you will have a specific response time.
Application Materials: Letters of Recommendation/Personal Statement
Letters of Recommendation/Support:
Requirements for letters vary between schools, most dental schools require 1-3 letters of recommendation. Begin early to establish a network of professors, supervisors (for volunteer or paid work), and dentists who are familiar with your work. It is important to choose recommenders who know you well.
At least one to two letters should be from faculty members who have taught you in a class and are able to make specific observations about your personal and academic achievements and your potential for dental school. Most Dental schools ask for letters of recommendations from science professors. Get to know your Professors early, start your Freshman year.
The personal statement is about you and your motivation for pursuing a career as a dentist. Remember, why you want to be a dentist is different from how you were inspired to become one. Describe your current passion for the field with specific examples from recent experiences. Try to choose a theme rather than random thoughts. The primary application activities section provides a list of accomplishments. Your personal essay is an opportunity to provide additional, more in-depth information.
The DAT (Dental Admissions Test) is administered throughout the year at local testing centers. It should be taken 18 months prior to the dental school class you plan to enter. (Ideally, Taking the DAT when you have finished the necessary coursework.) It is to your advantage to take it early—by April-June in the year you are submitting your application.
For DAT information and registration, visit https://www.ada.org/en/education-careers/dental-admission-test
Most dental schools hold “interview days” where they bring in a group of applicants for a day that may consist of some or all of the following: Interviews, written essays, school tours, and opportunities to meet students and faculty.
Interviews can take many forms, so it is important to research your schools and be prepared for each kind. The Stuckert Career Center can help you with preparation tips and practicing your interviewing skills.
The most common types of interviews are:
- One on one interview—Usually one or two 30-45 minutes interviews
- Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)—7-10 rooms with a different prompt or scenario posted on the door. You are typically given 2 minutes to think about the prompt before entering a room, and 5-8 minutes to respond to the prompt and any follow-up questions or play out the scenario with a trained actor.
- Group interview—May be either one applicant interviewed by several interviewers, or in a group of applicants interviewed by one or more interviewer.
Dental schools incorporate a variety of tools in their assessment in order to gather a holistic view of their applicants, to make sure they are not only academically capable but also possess the characteristics of someone who will likely succeed on the job. One such tool that is used by a few dental schools including the University of Utah is CASPer®, which is a situational judgment test designed to assess how an individual will behave in certain situations.
CASPer® assesses for 10 characteristics: Collaboration, Communication, Empathy, Equity, Ethics, Motivation, Problem Solving, Professionalism, Resilience, and Self Awareness.
It is a 60-90 minute virtually proctored assessment, made up of 12 sections. Each section contains a video-based or word-based scenario and three open-ended questions. Test takers have five minutes to type their responses to all three questions.
Further information is on the CASPer Website. http://takecasper.com.
Involvement allows you to supplement a strong academic record. Dental school admissions committees like to see evidence of initiative, creativity, leadership and collaboration, and organizational skills. However, it is important to remember that such activities will not substitute for poor grades, so don’t sacrifice study time for activities.
Search UK Student Organizations/Programs at BBNVolved https://uky.campuslabs.com/engage/
UK Student Organizations related to Dentistry:
- Pre-Dental Society
- The Apollo Society
- Student National Dental Association
Applicants are required to demonstrate, at the time of application, a minimum number of hours of dental observation/shadowing in a general dentistry setting. Applicants should consider observing in a variety of general dentistry settings.
*Each Dental school is different on the number of hours they are looking for. For Dental Schools in Kentucky, they are looking for about 50 hours. Due to COVID-19, the closure or limited opening of dental offices may affect the total number of dental shadowing hours that an applicant has completed. If an applicant is unable to complete the requirements prior to submitting their application, they can indicate this in their application.
As a caring attitude is central to the practice of dentistry, applicants should demonstrate a commitment to service, more specifically direct service, and a desire to help others. Applicants may wish to highlight volunteer and service activities, including tutoring, assisting seniors, volunteer EMT, coaching youth sports, mentoring, etc. The college seeks to assemble a student body that includes individuals from a wide range of urban, rural, economic, and cultural backgrounds.
Search UK Service-Learning and Civic Engagement for opportunities to help in the community: https://servelearnconnect.uky.edu/community-organizational-needs
Both cognitive and technical skills are required to successfully negotiate the dental school curriculum. Applicants must be able to meet the minimum technical standards for admission.
Check out UK’s College of Dentistry’s Technical Standards for Admission: https://dentistry.uky.edu/technical-standards-admission
Dental Schools in Kentucky
- University of Kentucky: https://dentistry.uky.edu/
- University of Louisville: https://louisville.edu/dentistry/degrees/dmd
Find a Dental School
ADEA: American Dental Education Association: http://www.adea.org/godental/
ASDA: American Student Dental Association: https://www.asdanet.org/
ADA: American Dental Association: https://www.ada.org/en