Develop the skills necessary to enter the field of dentistry
The following information is based principally on the Oregon Health Sciences University Doctor of Dentistry Program but applies to most of the dental schools in the United States:
No particular major is preferred. Pre-dentistry is not a major, but a collection of courses that fulfill admission requirements to most dental schools. Students must complete a minimum of 3 years of undergraduate work to be admitted to OHSU, but in practice, most have completed a 4-year bachelor’s degree before starting dental school.
Biology and chemistry are the most common majors; others include anthropology, education, math, philosophy, psychology. In terms of acceptance, no major has a selective advantage over another.
We recommend that students select a major that they enjoy, can do well in and would want for a career as an alternative to dentistry. Selection of a major should be discussed with a pre-dental advisor and chosen by the sophomore year.
Average GPA of entering dental students was 3.61 at OHSU for the 2014 entering class. Only 76 out of 1,328 applicants were accepted. Clearly, this is a very competitive field, and it is crucial to make your credentials as strong as possible.
Recommended Additional Courses
Dental Admission Test (DAT)
Health Care Experience
The dental admissions committee is particularly interested in an applicant’s knowledge of the profession of dentistry, in its many forms: orthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, public health, research, etc. The wise student will make it a point to educate him/herself on dentistry through practical experience, talking with professionals, and reading. In the past, students have worked with dentists, either as volunteers or as employees, at private offices, clinics, dental schools, and/or research facilities. Students make these arrangements themselves. The more experience the better.
Participation in other activities, particularly public-service, will strengthen your application. Diverse interests such as foreign languages, music, athletics, and other pursuits helps to demonstrate your discipline and uniqueness as an individual. Admissions committees want to know that an applicant is capable of relating to people from a variety of backgrounds.
Letters of Recommendation
Students are encouraged to apply to their home-state university dental school and several other schools of their choice.