What should my undergraduate major be?
Dental schools do not have a preference for any specific majors. You should consider a major which you enjoy, in which you perform well, or which might serve as a basis for further graduate work or for employment in the event you do not go to dental school. Many applicants majoring in non-science areas are successful applicants to dental school. Nevertheless, you must meet the specific requirements for the dental schools you are considering, regardless of your major.
What are the minimal admission requirements of dental schools?
Most dental schools require one year each of general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and physics. All courses must have laboratory components. At Marquette, these requirements are typically met by completing:
- Chemistry 1001, 1002/1014, 2111/2113, and 2112/2114
- Biology 1001, 1002, and 2001
- Physics 1001 and 1002 or Physics 1003 and 1004
Admission committees of some schools require or recommend additional courses as well. You should consult the ADEA Official Guide to U.S. and Canadian Dental Schools, published by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), for the specific requirements and recommended courses for each school. If you are interested in a particular school, you should research that school as early as you can.
What factors do dental schools consider when evaluating applicants?
Admission committees consider science grade point average (GPA), overall GPA, Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores, academic and personal recommendations, personal statements, and sometimes a personal interview. Extra curricular experiences and a demonstrated commitment to the dental profession are also essential. They are interested in candidates who have attained good academic records and who have actively investigated the dental profession.
What is the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)?
The Dental Admissions Test is a combined aptitude and achievement exam prepared by the American Dental Association.
The test is usually taken sixteen to seventeen months before the student hopes to begin dental school. It should be noted that while physics is required for dental school, physics is not covered on the DAT. Therefore, the test can be taken after the second semester of Organic Chemistry has been completed.
To prepare for the DAT, you should review the topics and skills the test measures. The sections of the test include:
- Survey of the Natural Sciences: The Natural Sciences section covers topics addressed in general biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry.
- Perceptual Ability Test: Perceptual Ability Test assesses visual spatial skills.
- Reading Comprehension: Measures the ability to read, organize, analyze and comprehend scientific information.
- Quantitative Reasoning: Covers algebraic equations, fractions, conversions, percentages, exponential notation, probability and statistics, geometry, trigonometry and applied mathematics problems.
Do I need letters of recommendation?
Yes. Letters of recommendation, which indicate personal knowledge of your abilities in comparison to other students are extremely important. Most dental schools require at least three academic letters. Students should review specific dental schools' admissions requirements regarding which type of letters are preferred.
The College of Arts and Sciences provides a Letters of Recommendation Service.
Are extracurricular activities important?
Dental schools prefer students with interests and experiences beyond academics; however, such activities should not interfere with academic performance.
Is financial aid available?
Amounts and types of financial aid vary widely from school to school. You should investigate the costs of dental school during your undergraduate career, as well as the types of loans and scholarships typically available.
How can I learn more about a career in dentistry?
Observe dentists in your hometown or here in Milwaukee. You should also make arrangements to tour the Marquette University School of Dentistry. Tours can be arranged by contacting Admissions at 1-800-445-5385. In addition, consider working or volunteering in a dental office.
Contact us at:
College of Arts and Sciences Advising Center
Pre-health Professions Advisor
Sensenbrenner Hall, 005