Discover everything you need to know about pursuing a career in dentistry, from essential coursework to acing the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and navigating the application process.

Three quarters of lecture and laboratory of each of the following sciences are generally required.

  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • General Physics
  • General Biology

Some programs will have additional requirements that you will need to meet. And though it is not required, it may be helpful to take biochemistry, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, and English composition. Many schools also strongly encourage students to also take courses in the arts and social sciences. Students are strongly encouraged to review the admissions requirements for each school.

Students are required to read the Dental Admission Test Program Guide prior to applying to take the exam. Link:

The DAT has four multiple-choice test sections:

  • Survey of the Natural Sciences (100 items)
  • Perceptual Ability (90 items)
  • Reading Comprehension (50 items)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (40 items)

When should I take the DAT?

When you are ready! Students typically take the DAT the spring quarter of their Junior year or the summer before the start of their senior year. Schedule the test 60-90 days before your desired testing date as seats do get filled up quickly.

How many times should I take the DAT?

Ideally, you should take the DAT once. Candidates must wait at least 90 days from their last attempt, before retaking the DAT. Candidates who have had three or more DAT attempts must apply for permission to test again. From that point forward, they may retest only once per 12-month period.

What is a DENTPIN?

It’s it like a social security number–unique to you. Before applying to take the DAT or or applying for admission to dental schools, students must obtain a Dental Personal Identification Number (DENTPIN®). Register for a new DENTPIN® or retrieve an existing DENTPIN® at

Is the exam expensive?

The cost of the exam is $495. This fee includes the cost of the exam and for the score to be reported to all the dental schools selected at the time of application. There is an additional $45 fee for score report requests made after the time of application.

The ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS) application will open on May 11 and students can begin submissions on June 1. Students can use the extra weeks to begin completing, reviewing and strengthening the application before submitting in June.

Each dental school determines its individual deadline date, which is the last date applicants can submit their ADEA AADSAS application to that school.

The ADEA AADSAS GPA will be different than the GPA on the transcript. The ADEA AADSAS GPA factors in all the coursework you have taken, regardless of the academic forgiveness policy. When researching programs, students should know how GPA will be determined by each program.

  • You can major in anything! Most students choose a biology or chemistry degree because the required science coursework fits in well within their degree plan. However, students can major in art, psychology, criminal justice, etc. and still apply to dental school if they meet the admissions
  • Dental schools want to see students with job shadowing experience. Different programs have different levels of shadowing requirements. It is best to check the admission policy for each school.
  • Research experience is not a requirement for admission to dental school. Students should pursue research if they are interested in it.
  • Students need to develop manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination to do the precise work required and to ensure patient safety.
  • Reach out early to schools you are interested in applying to. Attend pre-dental events, summer workshops, open houses, etc. to express your desire to attend the program. It demonstrates that you are a serious candidate.

This is a traditional timeline that assumes students will apply to dental school during their senior year in college. However, it is important to know that it is becoming more common for students to take a gap year before applying or re-applying to dental school. This allows students additional time to strengthen their resume, prepare for the DAT, or fulfill additional academic prerequisites that were not able to be completed in their undergraduate studies.


  • Sign up on the pre-health listserv.
  • Make sure you are registered for the correct science courses (general biology and general chemistry your first year).
  • Join the Pre-Health Club on campus.
  • Focus on your grades and develop good time management and study skills to help you start successfully.
  • Begin researching the admissions requirements for the dental schools you wish to attend.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Gain experience through part-time employment, job shadowing, and/or volunteering. Make the experience meaningful to you, not simply because you think it looks good.
  • Get to know faculty to ask for letters of recommendation when you are ready to apply.
  • Attend admissions fairs, open houses, or events at the schools you are interested in to learn about the different programs and to become familiar with each school’s admissions process.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Make a study plan and begin reviewing for the DAT.
  • Ensure that you have met or are meeting the requirements for admissions to the different programs you are interested in.
  • Attend the Health Professions Evaluation (HPE) information session.
  • Register and take the DAT the spring semester of junior year or the summer before start of senior year.
  • Create a profile on the ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS) website and begin work on your application. Students can submit their ADEA AADSAS application in June. Take your time on the application so you do not make mistakes and delay acceptance of your application. Pay attention to the deadlines set by each program as they do vary.
  • Certify and submit your ADEA AADSAS application.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Complete and return secondary application to dental schools.
  • Verify that all materials have been submitted to each dental school.
  • Respond to interview requests promptly and professionally.
  • Notify all dental schools of your decisions as early as possible.
  • Email of your final decision.