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Preparation Materials & Application Process

Below is a rough timeline for preparing your application to dental school.

Fall Semester Before You Apply

1. Research Dental Schools

The ADEA publishes the Official Guide to Dental Schools each year which includes information and specifics about each dental school in one convenient reference book.

Candidates should research the academic rigor of a program, the clinical experience offered, and the availability of faculty and support services. Of course, the cost of the program, availability of financial aid, and the location and environment of the college can be contributing factors in deciding which program is best suited to the candidate. Deciding on the program that best fits the applicant’s needs is a very personal process. All schools produce graduates who are competent and capable of providing quality care. The applicant must decide what values are personally important and then use those as a basis for evaluating the various programs.

Some factors to consider:

  • What is the focus of the dental school’s training and does it match the applicant’s interests and needs? Clinical opportunities? Research opportunities? Specialty training? Qualifications of teaching faculty? Qualifications of clinical faculty?
  • What is the structure of the curriculum in terms of what is taught and when? How early does the student see patients? Opportunity for electives? Externships? Community service? Part-time work?
  • What academic resources are available to students? Faculty availability? Numbers and diversity of patients? Community settings? 
  • What services are available to students? Tutoring? Peer advising? Student government? Stress counseling? Housing? Medical care? Parking? Extracurricular activities?
  • Where is the school located? Is a rural or urban setting more desirable? Cultural or sports availability?

2. Review the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) website

The ADEA website provides a wealth of information to help you research dental schools, study for the DAT, and to apply to dental schools. The ADEA American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) is the centralized application service for U.S. dental schools. Through this service, applicants may complete one application and send it to multiple dental schools. All dental schools participate in ADEA AADSAS and require it as the primary application.

3. Make a list of your activities

Activities may include:  employment, internships, volunteer, etc., outside of class, in addition to: hours, dates, locations, contacts; and your role and what you learned

4. Identify possible faculty for letters of recommendation

Spring Semester Before You Apply

1. Study for the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

Dental schools require the DAT. You can find more information on their website.

As a general guideline, you should not take the DAT until you have completed the general science prerequisites (except Physics as it does not appear on the DAT). You may also want to complete courses in Genetics, Physiology, and Biochemistry prior to taking the DAT. Standard scores range from 1 to 30.

Candidates may schedule the computerized DAT on almost any date throughout the year but must wait 90 days to retake the exam. There are no application deadlines for the DAT but some popular dates may fill up early so plan ahead. Ideally you should take the DAT before you apply since your application won't be complete until dental schools have your scores, and being an early applicant is important due to rolling admissions. Check with individual schools for information on their absolute deadlines for taking the DAT.

The DAT consists of test sections in:

  • Biology
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Perceptual Ability
  • Quantitative Ability

2. Write a personal statement.

For tips or assistance on writing your application essay, or to have your personal statement critiqued, please make an appointment with a Career Counselor.

3. Request letters of recommendation.

Schools vary in their letter of recommendation requirements. Please check with individual schools. Most will generally require 2 letters from science faculty (Biology, Chemistry, and/or Physics), and 1 non-academic letter.

Summer That You Apply

1. Complete the ADEA AADSAS, the dental school centralized application. 

(Online application services open in June)
All dental schools participate in ADEA AADSAS and require it as the primary application.

The centralized application includes:

  • Biographical Information
  • Colleges and universities attended
  • Academic course history
  • Personal Statement
  • Work & Volunteer Experiences
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Honors
  • Letters of Recommendation

2. Complete school-specific secondaries or supplemental application.

Dentistry programs require a secondary application unique to each school. For information about secondary applications, check the school profile in the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools.

3. Interview Preparation.

Applicant finalists will be asked to participate in interviews. For help preparing for interviews, please make an appointment with a Career Counselor.