Congratulations on considering or choosing dentistry as your future career field! These resources will aid you as your start to prepare for your journey after graduation.
Choosing a Dentistry School
- American Dental Association: Education and Careers
- American Dental Partners: Careers
- Dental Specialties
Finding & Choosing Dental Schools
- ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools – an essential resource for dental applicants!
- American Dental Association: DDS/DMD Program Search Engine
- AADSAS Participating Schools
- PreDents.com – an informal resource for students with tons of great stats and information about dental school admissions
- HSAC Resource for deciding how many schools to apply to
If you wish to take a year off after graduation before entering your chosen program, this schedule will shift to your senior year. Whether you are applying after your Junior or during your Senior year, it is wise to establish your file and committee, write your personal statement, and get letters of recommendation during your Junior year.
Since most dental schools have rolling admissions, applying early is important. As the cycle proceeds and spots in the class are filled, admission for the remaining spots can become more competitive. The entire application process takes nearly a full year to complete. By familiarizing yourself with the application process early on, you can develop a schedule for the many application-related tasks you will need to complete and submit a high quality application early in the cycle. Here are the five main parts to the application process, and the details that you should know about them:
Primary Application: Submit through AADSAS (June)
- You should have strong DAT scores from April or before.
- You pay a base fee which covers 5 applications and pay extra for each additional school to which you apply. The application is submitted online. You fill in pages of questions about grades, experiences, etc. You also submit a one-page personal statement about why you want to go to dental school.
- The personal statement is often the distinguishing element at the first evaluation since all applicants will be expected to have good grades, strong DAT scores and a good list of activities/honors. No committee letter of support accompanies this level of application.
- Check that AADSAS has received your transcripts. Other students have had their applications held up because their transcripts didn’t arrive at AADSAS. If you don’t check, they may sit in limbo for months while other applicants’ primaries are processed.
- It is very, very seldom a glitch in our Registrar’s office that results in non-submission of transcripts to AMCAS; it is your responsibility to follow up on your application and find out if it is complete.
- Important: Legal citations.
- Student’s legal profiles are critical. Even small citations on your record may come back to haunt you during the application process. Even though the AADSAS application may not ask explicitly about your legal record, when given the opportunity to provide “other information,” do so and explain the circumstances.
Secondary Applications (July-Fall)
- The schools examine your application and then decide whether to invite you to complete a secondary application (one that’s directly tailored to that institution).
- FAQs about Secondary Applications (from ADEA)
- These secondary applications involve more questions, statements, and a separate check payment to each school ($75-$100 per school).
- The schools expect that secondary applications will be returned in about 2 weeks. Return them as soon as possible to show your dedication to attending dental school.
- Some dental schools may request the secondary application at the same time as the primary application. These schools will have this information available on their websites.
Committee Letter of Recommendation
- Dental schools, for the most part, look for a committee letter of recommendation. This allows them to see a synthesis of information about the applicant and hear many different viewpoints about the candidate in one letter. Participating in HSAC also allows that student to garner feedback from a broader group, their HSAC mock interview team and to practice speaking from example about why they want to be a dentist. The letter of recommendation is sent from HSAC after the secondary application goes back to the school. This ensures that when the letter gets to the school it has a “home” in your file and allows you to make a legitimate phone call to the school to ask if your application is complete. You must communicate to your HSAC advisor / the committee chair the accurate addresses for those institutions to which you need the committee letter sent.
- Once your HSAC letter of recommendation has been mailed, your advisor will email you, The letter will arrive at the school 7-10 days after your application arrives. Contact each individual program in 2 weeks to be sure the letter has arrived and your file is complete. Letters can get lost; every year we resend about half a dozen letters out of the 150-200 letters we write. Most schools will be happy to receive your letter even 3-4 weeks after the secondary is received. Unfortunately, some students don’t check on their files for months and a second letter from our end may arrive too late to really make a big difference.
- If all goes well, interviews can happen as soon as late August or early September. UMD usually starts interviews around the last week of September and private schools are usually slower.
- Good candidates typically spend all fall interviewing. Appreciate that some of our students have already interviewed and been accepted before others find time to send their secondaries back. When this happens you are not usually interviewed until Jan.-Feb. after the class is nearly or completely filled. Then you may find you’re in the categories “waitlist,” “hold” or “alternates.
- Professionalism is critical in every area of medicine, but dental programs are especially keen to see students who present themselves in a professional, polished and well-groomed manner.
Paying for dental school can be a daunting task. Luckily, there is a lot of financial help available. Be knowledgeable about the costs of schooling as well as potential grants, scholarships, and loans, and be an active agent in deciding which loans and payment options are the best match for you and your financial situation.
Pre-Dentistry Financial Planning
- American Dental Association: Financial Planning
- American Dental Education Association: Financing Dental Education
- ADEA GoDental: Financing a Dental Education
Dentistry Scholarships & Loan Repayment Assistance Programs
- Bureau of Clinician Recruitment And Service (Overview PDF)
- National Health Service Corps Scholarship
- National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
- HRSA: Faculty Loan Repayment Program
If you are interested in more programs where you agree to work in underserved areas in exchange for tuition assistance, look at the Health Resources and Services Administration site, or do a google search for Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and dentistry to learn more about such programs.
Alternately, the Army Health Professions Scholarship Program is available to students. The army pays all your tuition and fees in exchange for years of service in the army following dentistry school graduation.
Our students generally find this exam to be less challenging than the MCAT and usually perform competitively
Plan to take the DAT the April of your application year, at the latest. By the time you can submit your primary application to AADAS (in June), your score should be ready to submit.
Dental Admissions Test Information
- DAT Program Guide (pdf)
- Information from the American Dental Association
- Princeton Review: Test Breakdown
- DAT Sample Questions
- HSAC Overview: DAT Structure
Recommended Resources for Preparation
- The DAT Destroyer Book
- The CRACK the DAT Program
- Schaum’s Guide to Biology
- TopScorePro Program
Retaking the DAT
- Don’t rush taking the DAT. You should score high enough the first time to avoid taking it a second or third time.
- You are only allowed to take the DAT three times. After that, you may petition to take it a fourth time, but many dental schools will not be interested in your application at that point.
- Previous DAT scores do not go away and they are not averaged. All of your DAT scores will be in your file for dental schools to see.
- Study hard and do your best the first time. If you need to retake the DAT it is not the end of the world, but be sure to use your experience from the first time to help you the second time around.