The first thing to do if you are planning to apply to dental school is to read every word of the American Dental Education Association “Go Dental” site.
Second, sign up for AdviseStream, the software program that is being used to manage prehealth advising. You can receive a token for signing in to AdviseStream at one of the fall meetings on AdviseStream, or from the Director of Health Professions Advising.
Third, meet the Health Professions Dental School Advisor (Dr. Katy Lack). You can make an appointment to see Dr. Lack through AdviseStream.
The process of applying to dental school is much like that of applying to medical school. The coursework needed and the application process are very similar. Dental schools are also very competitive. The courses required (which may vary by program) are laid out below. As is the case for students applying to medical school, you will need to have not only a competitive GPA and test scores, but you are expected to have shadowed one or more dentists and have relevant clinical experience, as well as demonstrate a commitment to service. Please read the introductory sections of this Handbook.
Most students apply to dental school in the summer between their third and fourth years of undergraduate study. It does not matter what major you choose; only that you complete the prerequisite courses.
In order to be competitive for admission after three years, a student may want to follow this plan:
|Spring year 1||Fall
|Spring year 2||Fall year 3||Spring year 3||Summer
|Fall year 4||Spring
Prepare for DAT
|Apply to dental school||Complete divisionals and major||Complete divisionals and major|
Although dental school requires only two semesters of biology, the Biology Department has a four-course introductory sequence, three semesters of which must be taken to cover all of the material tested on the DAT exam. The fourth semester, BIO 113, should be taken only if you are planning to be a biology major, or would like to use it as an elective course. It can also be used to complete a biology minor (16 hours), however, other courses may be substituted for completion of the minor as well.
WHAT TO MAJOR IN
64% of dental school applicants major in biology or biomedical sciences, and another 3% in other health-related areas. However, the rate of acceptance to dental school is not higher for students majoring in biology or biomedical sciences than the rate of acceptance of students majoring in other fields. The remainder of applicants are drawn for other fields such as social science, engineering, and business.
THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS COMMITTEE APPLICATION AND LETTER
Dental schools ask for a letter from the students’ undergraduate institution(s) that expresses the degree of institutional support for the student’s application and an explanation of that support. This is the Health Professions Committee (HPC) letter.
In the fall of the year in which you plan to apply to dental school you must attend one of the mandatory meetings held in the fall designed to prepare students for the HPC letter and dental school application processes.
The Health Professions Committee will only write letters for students whose application they can support. It is important to note that you do not have to have a Health Professions Committee (HPC) letter to apply to medical or dental school. But generally, the lack of a committee letter indicates that your undergraduate institution could not strongly support your application.
As soon as possible, sign into AdviseStream.
In February of the year you plan to apply to dental school, fill out the FERPA waiver form on AdviseStream, and provide the names of the individuals who will write your letters of recommendation. The letters will be sent to the HPC, who will forward them to the application service. The letter writers will receive an e-mail giving them instructions for writing and submitting their letter of recommendation to the Committee and information on whether you have or have not waived your right of access to the individual and HPC letters.
By April 30, your AdviseStream portfolio must be up to date. Your portfolio provides the Health Professions Committee (HPC) with information needed to help in the preparation of your HPC letter to the dental schools.
The HPC is composed of eight faculty members from different disciplines. The members of the HPC are listed in the front of the handbook. All of the members of the committee have experience in health professions advising.
The committee will review your AdviseStream portfolio, letters of recommendation, and academic record (in Degree Works). Your portfolio will detail your community service, clinical experiences, shadowing hours, and research experience. A level of support from the College for your application to dental school will be assigned. An HPC letter that reflects that support will be written by the chair of the HPC. The letter will serve as a cover letter attached to your letters of recommendation. The letter will also highlight to the dental schools your qualifications for admission.
In order to write a strong letter of support, the Committee needs to know you. Therefore, it is important that you have an interview with the Director of Health Professions in the fall preceding your application to dental school.
If you plan to apply to dental school one year or more after graduation, it is a good idea to go through the process now. Your application and letters can be updated at a later date if you wish.
The DAT is an exam prepared by the American Dental Association. It is required by all US and many Canadian dental schools. The exam covers natural sciences, perceptual ability reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning. For more information about preparing for and taking the DAT, visit the ADA’s DAT website: www.ada.org/en/education-careers/dental-admission-test/.
THE DENTAL SCHOOL APPLICATION PROCESS
Remember to first read the ADEA’s “Go Dental site”!
ADEA offers an official guide to dental school which contains information on how to apply, where to apply, and financing your education. It also has information on every dental school in the US, including statistics on admissions.
As the time to apply approaches, visit the American Dental Association Pre-dental Student Virtual Fair. It offers a free online opportunity to communicate directly with dental school admissions officers about the admissions process.
You will want to begin the process of application to dental school about 18 months before you plan to matriculate, typically in the middle of your third or fourth year.
Early in the fall semester of your third year, you will have an interview with the Director of Health Professions Advising. You can make an appointment for your interview on AdviseStream. The interview gives you the opportunity to discuss your portfolio with a member of the Health Professions Committee, who will have read your portfolio in advance of the interview. You will be asked to reflect on your relevant experiences, explain your motivation for a health professions career, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your inter- and intra-personal skills. Information from the interview will be used in preparing your HPC letter to the medical schools.
By February 15th of your third year, you will want to request three letters of recommendation, fill out and submit the required waiver forms, and initiate the Health Professions Committee application (see sections on “AdviseStream,” “The Committee Letter,” and “The Personal Statement”). All US dental schools participate in the ADEA (American Dental Education Association) AADSAS (Associated American Dental School Application Service) centralized application service. The letters of recommendation will be submitted to the Health Professions Committee, which will forward them to the AADASAS, along with a statement from the committee on the level of confidence at which they can support your application to dental school.
During the spring, you should research dental schools and establish the ones to which you will apply. Work on your personal statement. Attend the spring workshop offered by the Health Professions Committee and the OPCD on how to write an admissions essay/personal statement.
In late spring to early summer, you will take the DAT (Dental Admission Test). It is a computer-based test which can be taken at almost any time at testing centers throughout the country. You can find information on the DAT at the American Dental Association site:
Complete the ADEA AADSAS application early. The verification process can take up to six weeks.
Applying as an international Student:
In 2013, 703 international students applied to dental school. Two hundred and forty (34%) were admitted. Forty-seven percent of domestic students are admitted.