There is no particular undergraduate major required for dental school. Most dental programs require a specified set of pre-requisite coursework that we offer at Penn State Behrend. Due to the advanced biology requirement at many dental schools, a biology or biology-related major is often pursued. Prerequisite courses for most dental programs include:
Our Pre-Health Option of our Bachelor of Science degree in Biology covers all of these pre-requisites. However, other biology, chemistry and physics degree programs can easily be customized to meet these requirements. At Penn State Behrend, you will have a dedicated, personal Pre-Health Advisor who will guide you through the process!
The more rigorous the academic preparation in the sciences, the more prepared students are for advanced coursework in a dental school program. The student must demonstrate a consistent and high GPA as well as perform well on the DAT.
Applies to 4-7 schools with a mean GPA >3.3 and a minimum DAT score of 17 or better. The candidate also has 100+ hours of shadowing or work experience in a dental setting. The student should have a demonstrated capacity for manual dexterity.
The minimum GPA considered on average is 3.0.
To answer the question of “Why do you want to be a dentist?” it is necessary to observe a dentist at work for as many hours as you possible. Most dental programs are taking a holistic “whole candidate” approach to admissions. Simply having a high GPA and DAT score is no longer sufficient for acceptance.
You should also try to shadow different dentists that work in the various specializations in the dental profession. Most schools are looking for at least 50-100 hours of shadowing/clinical experience. Contact your local dental society for more information:
Volunteering is a great way to show your dedication to helping people! Opportunities at local hospitals, nursing homes, and schools for special needs children require some research on your part, but can really set your application apart.
To determine if the candidate has a diverse set of skills necessary to be a dentist they look for evidence of leadership, involvement in professional organizations and participation in scholarly activities like research.
To start your journey to dental school, you should visit the American Association of Colleges of Dental (AACP) and PharmCAS websites. Here you will find free guides to the over 100 dental programs, statistics on application rates and acceptances, and information on the many dental career opportunities. PharmCAS is the application service for most dental programs.
Most new students underestimate the breadth of the dental profession. It may be helpful to research the various specialties within dentistry to see which one interests you:
Pre-Health Advisor for Dental: Beth Potter e-mail, Behrend Pre-Health
Coordinator of Pre-Health Advising: Michael Campbell, Behrend Pre-Health