Dentistry Requirements

Dentistry programs require applicants receive a bachelor’s degree (in any subejct) priort to matriculating.

  • Pre-requisite coursework
  • Good GPA in rigorous courses
  • Test scores (DAT)
  • Orientation to the profession (observation and experience)
  • Recommendations
  • Evidence of leadership and service

A competitive applicant for DDS programs will have taken the recommended coursework (see below), a GPA of 3.6 or higher, DAT scores of 19 or higher, good references, a background involving service and leadership (co-curricular/volunteer record), and an understanding of dentistry as a profession (shadowing/observation).

There is some variation in the pre-requisite coursework needed at the undergraduate level.  Below is a listing of the undergraduate coursework required by most programs as well as some additional coursework that may be required by some programs.

Minimum Pre-Requisites:
  • Biol 130 – Cells to Organisms
  • Biol 150 – Organisms to Ecosystems
  • Chem 115 – Structure and Reactivity
  • Chem 116 – Energetics and Dynamics
  • Chem 250 – Organic Chemistry I
  • Chem 252 – Organic Chemistry II
  • Phys 141 – Principles of Mechanics
  • Phys 151 – Principles of Classical Physics
Additional courses for some programs:
  • Chem 340/Biol 444 - Biochemistry

Any major is acceptable; the biochemistry major overlaps substantially with the pre-requisite coursework.


The director of admissions at a major DDS program passed along a couple of lists that might be of interest

Top 10 characteristics of a successful candidate to a health professions school:
  1. Applies early and to more than one school
  2. Demonstrates clear career goals
  3. Knows personal strengths and fit with desired institutions
  4. Is acquainted with admissions deans, directors, and staff
  5. Submits strong letters of recommendation
  6. Demonstrates strong ethical values and professional stature
  7. Demonstrates strong record of leadership
  8. Has a significant role in a meaningful research project
  9. Balances multiple priorities
  10. Demonstrates a passion for the profession.
And, some additional thoughts from the director of admissions 
  • it is tougher to get accepted than you think
  • wanting it badly is not enough
  • being terrific academically is just the beginning
  • be proactive and take ownership of the process
  • be humble and hungry
  • admission is a privilege, not an entitlement

The length of DDS programs is typically 4 years.  Average costs vary by state, but in 2017-18, tuition costs per year were roughly

Resident: $35,000-45,000

Non-Resident/Private: $55,000-65,000

Living costs are additional.  NB: Student loans are readily available to US citizens or permanent residents; international students will need to self-finance.


To practice dental medicine in the US, you must earn a DDS or DMD degree from an accredited dental program and pass a national board exam.   You must also obtain a state license and additional requirements to practice vary slightly from state to state.


Marquette University, University of Detroit Mercy, University of Louisville, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, …