Majors. While a major in a basic science such as biology, chemistry, or physics is more in-line with the profession of dentistry, it is by no means required in order to apply for dental school. In many cases, it is more attractive to admissions officers to see an applicant non-science major because it demonstrates cross-disciplinary skills and varied interests, so long as the general prerequisite science coursework has been completed.
General Requirements. All dental schools will require students obtain a baccalaureate degree from a four-year college prior to matriculation. In addition, the majority of dental schools require the following coursework as a MINIMUM:
- 1 Year/2 Semesters/8 Credit Hours of Biology w/ Lab
- 1 Year/2 Semesters/8 Credit Hours of General Chemistry w/ Lab
- 1 Year/2 Semesters/8 Credit Hours of Organic Chemistry w/ Lab
- 1 Year/2 Semesters/8 Credit Hours of Physics w/ Lab
- 1 Year/2 Semesters/8 Credit Hours of English
- 1 Year/2 Semesters/8 Credit Hours of Mathematics
- 1 Semester/4 Credit Hours of Biochemistry
- 1 Semester/4 Credit Hours of Psychology
Mathematics. Different schools may accept other quantitative coursework outside of pure mathematics, including those from computer science or statistics departments. However, regardless of the math prerequisites, a background in calculus is required in order to complete college-level physics courses at Duke.
Humanities. Similar to mathematics course prerequisites, the English course prerequisites can sometimes be satisfied with “writing intensive” courses in other departments. However, this is not recommended as the majority of dental schools are not flexible with their English prerequisite.
Biochemistry. A biochemistry prerequisite is becoming increasingly common among dental school admissions every year. Those that do not specifically require exposure to biochemistry coursework prior to matriculation strongly recommend it.
Academic Performance. It is important to take additional, higher level science courses in order to demonstrate an ability to handle heavy science courseloads similar to those encountered in dental school. Both B/C/P (biology/chemistry/physics) GPA and Overall GPA should meet or exceed dental school’s average thresholds, which ranges from 3.0-3.7 depending on the institution.
Additional Requirements. Some dental schools have additional prerequisite coursework beyond the general set described above. Courses in psychology or statistics are common examples. Bryn Mawr College has compiled a table of Dental Schools with Additional Academic Requirements, however it is recommended that each school’s pre-requisite coursework be checked individually via their websites in order to verify these additional requirements.
AP/IPC Credits. Each dental school accepts AP/IPC credit slightly differently, however most will accept AP credit awarded by Duke for biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, and English in some form or another so long as it is listed on your official college transcript. In addition, many dental schools accept AP/IPC credit for prerequisite coursework only if additional/advanced work in the same department is taken in college. This is in order to show that the applicant is capable of handling the college-level workload in that field. Each school’s admissions office must be contacted individually in order to identify how they accept AP/IPC credits.
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