The Basics

Preparing to be a dentist does not happen overnight. Most people know that it is important to have strong grades, but just as important is gaining experience to develop the skills, knowledge, and maturity necessary to be an effective healthcare provider. As with others on a healthcare team, a dentist’s decisions and actions affect human life and well-being. Dentists must pay attention to detail, have high ethical standards, communicate well with patients and other healthcare providers, maintain reliable records, and be knowledgeable about existing and new dental treatments to ensure each patient has optimal results.

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Dentistry Pre-Requisites

Dental schools traditionally select applicants who have taken various levels of biology, chemistry & physics classes, along with arts & social sciences classes.  Some dental schools require additional courses, such as English composition, and additional upper-level biology courses, such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology and biochemistry. Some will substitute one semester of biochemistry for the second semester of organic chemistry.

It is the responsibility of the student to research individual Dentistry programs to determine the exact coursework required for admission, as it can vary by program. Students should also be aware of when pre-requisites are required to be completed by to be considered for admission.

Recommended courses include the following:

Biological Sciences, 9-18 credit hours

MCB 150 & MCB 151 + IB 150 & IB 151 General Biology

MCB 100 Microbiology

MCB 354 or 450 Biochemistry

Human Anatomy & Human Physiology, 6-10 credit hours

MCB 244 & MCB 245 + MCB 246 & MCB 247

Physical Science: 21-23 credit hours

CHEM 102 & 103 + CHEM 104 & 105 General Chemistry

CHEM 232 + 233 Organic Chemistry

PHYS 101 + PHYS 102 Physics

Statistics 3 credit hours

STAT 100 or MATH 161 or equivalent

Mathematics 3-6 credit hours

MATH 220 or 221 Calculus, or equivalent

Many schools strongly encourage applicants to take courses in the arts and social sciences. Further, students should consider taking courses that will help develop their manual dexterity. Courses may include:

Fine Arts 3 credit hours

ART 102, ARTS 210, ARTS 230

Social & Behavioral Sciences 3-6 credit hours

PSYCH 100, PS 101, ANTH 101, SOC 100, ECON 102

Knowledge of Self and Profession

Throughout the application process, you will need to demonstrate knowledge of yourself (values, goals, motivations, strengths, weaknesses), an understanding of the profession, and a commitment to become a dentist. You must clearly articulate your readiness to enter the profession as a result of first-hand experience in the field. There should be evidence in your application that you are committed to service and helping others. You must demonstrate your ability to work on a team, to lead, and to communicate with people with different backgrounds, values, and perspectives from your own.

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Major & GPA

And finally, there is no “best major” for pre-dental students. You can choose ANY major and be successful in your application to dental school. Admissions personnel will review your GPA from a variety of perspectives…cumulative GPA, science/math GPA, prerequisite GPA. Choose a major that you will enjoy and allow you to successfully complete the required and recommended courses while also gaining experience outside the classroom. Consider a major that will provide many career options, recognizing that students commonly change majors and career plans multiple times as they learn about themselves and their career options.  The prerequisite courses below can be worked into any major on campus.  Some may have more overlap, while other majors may have more flexibility.  Choose a major that works for you!

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