The field of health care is one of the fastest-growing fields of employment in the U.S. Dentists are among the highest-paid health care workers, and the residency requirements for completion of a dental doctorate program are often considered easier than the residency requirements for a medical doctor. For these reasons, dental schools are becoming more popular and more competitive.

Dental School Requirements:
There are about 60 dental schools in the United States (and 10 schools in Canada), and admittance requirements vary from school-to-school. In this article, we’ll discuss requirements for a typical school of dentistry, but be sure to research the schools of your choice for specifics.

You do not need a Bachelor of Science degree in order to qualify for dental school. Many schools will accept applicants who have only completed their third (junior) year of college, and some schools will also accept students who majored in the humanities or the arts.

A Strong Academic Foundation is Necessary:
Especially if you do not have a Bachelor of Science degree, you will need to prove your competence in the field of science. Most dental school programs require that you have spent a certain amount of time studying particular sciences.

Requirements may include:

Chemistry (including organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry and biochemistry)

Mathematics (especially calculus)

Physics (especially classical physics)

Biological science (especially vertebrate zoology)


Dental schools also want to see a well-rounded academic curriculum. Applicants are typically required to show at least one completed English class in order to demonstrate their comprehension of the English language. Classes in the humanities and social sciences are also encouraged, and so are foreign language classes.

Preparation for dental school doesn’t just require book smarts. Because dentists work with their hands and must develop a gentle touch, many dental programs also look favorably on applicants who have completed a class that requires manual dexterity. Students who achieved good grades in the studio arts (e.g. painting and sculpture) will find favor in the eyes of dental schools.

Character and Experience Counts:
A Board of Admissions will also pay close attention to your character and experience. You will stand a better chance at being accepted if you participate in extracurricular activities or have work experience.

As dental school becomes more competitive, many prospective applicants go a step further by observing a dentist’s practice. This requires spending a few hours a week in an actual dentist’s office, watching the dentist at work and observing the practice. The observation period typically lasts for an entire semester or summer, and if you are polite and dependable, the dentist whom you have observed may also supply a letter of recommendation.

The DAT:
Before you apply for dental school, you will need to take the Dental Admission Testing Program, which is a standardized test conducted by the Council on Dental Education of the American Dental Association. The DAT measures your scientific knowledge, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning skills. Industry professionals say that the DAT is very similar to the MCAT, which is the test administered to prospective medical doctors. If you plan to attend a school in the United States, it is important to take the test administered by the ADA, because some schools do not accept the Canadian version of the DAT.

For more information about taking the DAT and getting into dental school, visit your school’s campus career counselor or contact the American Association of Dental Schools at:

American Association of Dental Schools
1619 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036

Getting into dental school requires some planning and forethought, but many students will find that if they have a solid academic record with emphasis in the sciences, they will get into the school of their choice.