Becoming a Dentist: Best Dental Schools in the US

October 14, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Becoming a Dentist: Best Dental Schools in the US

What Do Most Dentists Major In?

A rewarding career path may exist in dentistry. It offers competitive pay as well as job satisfaction.  Additionally, you get to use your hands while assisting others in regaining their health. Let’s explore more about the best dental schools in the US. If attending a dental school is one of your career goals, you must begin planning early. You must be aware of the ideal undergraduate degree for dentistry school. To become a dentist, you must also determine which of the majors best suit your personality and hobbies.

What do most dentists major in? When it comes to getting into dentistry school, there are numerous majors to pick from. Your major selection should reflect your interests. You can major in anything as long as you fulfill the requirements for dental school. Yes, the majority of dentists have science degrees, but others have humanities as their major.

Group of students working on a mannequin.

Popular majors for dentistry school are listed below.


The majority of dentistry schools seek out applicants with solid science backgrounds. Even though you don’t have to major in science, you still need to pass a lot of science classes. The study of biochemistry is recommended for dental school.

Why is this major so popular among dentistry school applicants? You get to simultaneously learn two sciences. The fusion of biology and chemistry is known as biochemistry. You study the molecular level of life.

A biochemistry major will benefit your dental profession. You enroll in basic science courses. This information applies to dentistry schools and beyond.


Biology lessons are necessary for pre-dental students. Biology is a fantastic major because the majority of dental schools seek out applicants with solid science backgrounds. The finest major for dental school, in fact.

You take a lot of introductory biology and chemistry classes in a biology program. Additionally, you study human physiology and anatomy.

For the best dental schools in the US, these courses are excellent. They assist you in learning the fundamentals of anatomy, which you will need later on when studying oral and maxillofacial surgery and dental health.


The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) reports that biology and chemistry are the most popular majors for dental students. Chemistry is a wonderful major to take if you’re thinking, “What should I major in to become a dentist?”

You take a lot of biology, chemistry, and physics classes if you major in chemistry. You work in the lab for the majority of the day. You acquire a solid scientific foundation that will be helpful to you in dental school.


Dental school necessary courses are required for aspirant dentists. Your concentration on the courses you need for dental school will be aided by a pre-dental major. They provide you a solid science basis to get you ready. They also expose you to the rigorousness of dental school.

To be accepted into dental school, you must complete required courses, much like for medical school. Numerous science classes are part of these programs.  Consider enrolling in physics, organic chemistry, and mathematics. Additionally, you’ll enroll in classes in English, general and organic chemistry, and biology.

Other Majors for Dental School

Dental schools are not just interested in science majors. You can enroll in dentistry schools without a scientific degree if you meet the requirements.


Dental school does not require any particular undergraduate degree. Any major is possible as long as you fulfill the requirements. Even if you enjoy reading, you can still work as a dentist.

Group of students walking in the campus.

You can still major in something you like, but you will need to take required science courses. And you will most probably ace the essay when it comes time for your dental school admissions test and application. Because you are an excellent writer or you have practiced formal and creative writing in your undergraduate degree, dental schools will value your personal statement.


A decent dentistry school curriculum requires major and preparatory coursework in psychology. However, to be accepted into dental schools, you do not need to major in science.

Psychology is a soft science but you also carry out lab work and employ mathematical models. In some colleges, there are quantitative psychology programs. You become familiar with graphs and scientific writing as a result.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Dentist?

How long does it take to become a dentist? The training period for becoming a dentist is six to eight years. Your specific path to become a dentist will rely on a number of variables, including your decision to specialize. It will take more training and education to specialize in a field like oral surgery or periodontology. A blended educational curriculum, however, can help some students who opt not to specialize shorten their time in school.

Undergraduate Degree

Any dental school requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree before they may submit an application. A student’s time in school could be cut by two years if they enroll in one of the dental programs that combine a bachelor’s degree with a doctorate in dentistry. After earning a bachelor’s degree, candidates must pass the Dental Admissions Test and start applying to programs in dentistry.

Dental Program

A dental program must be finished by aspirant dentists after earning a bachelor’s degree. This results in either a DDS or a DMD as the doctoral degree. Students in dentistry programs can anticipate taking courses in oral microbiology, biology, dental radiography, and dental anatomy. Throughout their dentistry degree, students will also do numerous residencies and internships to gain hands-on dental training.

Specialty Program

Additional training is required for dental students who desire to specialize in a particular field. The typical format for this training is a residency, which typically lasts one to two years to complete. Even longer completion times may be necessary for specialties with more depth. For instance, a four- or six-year residency program is needed to specialize in oral surgery.

Passing the State Exam

Every dentist needs to have a license in the state where they want to work. The National Board Dental Examination must be passed in order to do this. There will be 500 questions which are divided into two parts of the dentists’ National Board Exam.

A board exam in that specialization will also be required for dental students who have completed extra training in that field.

What Do Most Dental Schools Require?

Above all, dental schools seek candidates with a strong background in the sciences but a well-rounded education. Your main priorities should be getting good marks, taking challenging classes, and choosing electives that will teach you how to treat people well. It’s crucial to remember that schools have admitted students with majors ranging from music to sports administration.

So, what do most dental schools require? There are many requirements for dental colleges. They typically seek biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics courses, all of which have labs. Additional science and composition classes at other schools might be necessary. You are not required to major in science at all, but you must complete the requirements for the dentistry school you choose to attend.

Group of students listening to a doctor.

Dental schools are looking for additional qualities in a student besides their academics. Work or volunteer work in a medical or dental setting, dental workshops, dental research initiatives, pre-dental clubs, advanced scientific courses, and more are some examples. Despite not always being necessary, they can be beneficial in dentistry school.

The application procedure for dental school is extensive and includes examinations, interviews, and more applications. For assistance, be sure to speak with your guidance counselor and the dental school of your choosing.

What Are the Best Dental Schools in the US?

Best dental schools in the US are among more than 60 dental institutions that grant advanced dentistry degrees in the country. Deciding which dental school to attend is crucial in the process of becoming a dentist.  Dental school applicants struggle to get references for the finest dental schools because there are no rankings. However, here are the top dental schools to answer the query “What are the best dental schools in the US?”

University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan is a leader in the fields of dentistry and other health-related fields.

It features a sizable network of linked clinics that give dental students several chances and exposure to obtain practical experience. With 120 full-time employees, the faculty runs 15 distinct programs. The community can also receive dental treatment and oral health services from the school.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Adams School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill frequently ranks among the top dental schools in the country.

Its Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) Program is proud of its Advocate-Clinician-Thinker (ACT)-based curriculum. Students of dentistry are taught and prepared to be excellent clinicians, patient advocates, and problem-solvers.

Through 50 rotation sites in North Carolina, including two free student-led free clinics, the students acquire clinical experience. More than 90,000 individuals receive dental and oral healthcare services from these clinics each year.

Harvard University

Harvard University consistently ranks among the best universities around the globe and among the best dental schools in the US.

One of the top dentistry schools in the country is located at this Ivy League institution. Boston’s Longwood Medical District is home to the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM). The majority of the time, HSDM students and Harvard medical students collaborate on their assignments.

Clinical rotations at the Harvard Dental Center, which sees more than 25,000 patients annually, allow students to obtain practical experience.

University of California, San Francisco

The School of Dentistry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is regarded as one of the best in the nation. More than 100 graduates are produced annually by the school, which offers its students chances for both clinical education and research.

The school’s dentistry clinic, which sees more than 120,000 dental patients a year, provides students with practical training.

Additionally, the UCSF School of Dentistry receives great marks for its research. According to financing from the National Institutes of Health, it has really held the top place as the best dental school in the United States.

University of California, Los Angeles

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry confers the Doctor of Dental Dentistry degree to more than 100 students. Just like its San Francisco equivalent, that makes two UC schools making it on the list of best dental schools in the US.

The majority of graduates either pursue post-graduate studies or get higher degrees in oral biology.

UCLA students begin their clinical patient care during their second year. Through rotations in various community outreach initiatives and specialized clinics, they continue to gain clinical experience. This enables them to directly care for a variety of patients.

What is Important in Selecting a Dental School?

There are currently 68 accredited dental schools in the United States. Now, what is important in selecting a dental school? A list of qualities to seek in a dentistry program is provided below.

Two students reading something on a notebook while standing near a building.


You’ll be residing where your dental school is for at least four years. It’s crucial that you feel content there. Is your family nearby? Nearby social gatherings? Your clinical training will be impacted by your location as well because it impacts your patient pool.

If you’re in an urban setting, you’ll see patients who are less well-off from the neighborhood metropolis. How many patients are there in a suburban setting? Does the public have an adequate need for dental care?

Size and Organization

Classes in dentistry might have as few as 40+ students or as many as 200+. At a smaller school, you might get more individualized attention and perhaps get to know your classmates better. However, a large school may provide more varied social and networking possibilities.

The faculty-to-student ratio should be the deciding factor regardless of the size you select. Your ability to communicate with your professors will be determined by this, and doing so is essential to mastering your craft extraordinarily effectively.


You will study biological sciences for the first two years, and clinical coursework for the final two. The following considerations:

How is the fundamental biomedical science curriculum structured?

  • Do dental students attend classes with those of other health professions?
  • Is there a chance to connect with students studying medicine, nursing, or pharmacy in a cross-disciplinary setting?

How are the courses taught?

  • Are lectures the norm in classrooms, or are “flipped classroom” models like team-based learning or problem-based learning an option? Students in flipped classrooms prepare outside of class and arrive to school prepared to work as a team to solve issues and answer faculty questions.

Does the curriculum have letter grades or is it pass/fail?

  • There is more possibility to stand out from your peers at institutions that use grades and class rankings, but it may also add a competitive element to your whole dentistry school experience.
  •  What is the Boards’ and license tests pass rate?

When do students initially interact with patients?

  • Students at certain schools begin seeing patients as early as their first year, whereas at other schools it takes them until their third year to begin doing so.
  • How are students matched with patients? Are they centrally triaged for every student? To a group therapy? Throughout shifts at an urgent care center? Are patients easy to come by?

How are clinic students assessed?

  • Do procedures have a point system?
  • Are there tests for competence?
  • Exist any minimal procedural standards?

Is the facility cutting-edge?

  • Does digital dentistry education exist? E4D or Cerec? 3D modeling? Using a digital lab?
  • Do they have modern pre-clinical, didactic, and clinical facilities? Lecture recording Digital dissections?
  • Do they teach specialized subjects? Ortho? TMD/Occlusion? Sleep? Esthetics?

Cents and Dollars

The price may differ from dental school to dental school as well as from one year level to another. For instance, at some dentistry schools, students in lower year levels must pay more than those in higher year levels. In contrast, higher-year-level students at other dental schools must pay more than lower-year-level students.

Young woman using a laptop in a desk.

The following table lists some of the best dental schools in the US along with the approximate price of their individual dental degrees over one academic year:

Harvard University 3% $101,659
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 5% $84,567 to $100,020
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill 5% $189,845
University of Washington 6% $93,468 to $122,972
University of California – Los Angeles 5% $85,428 to $96,267
University of California – San Francisco 5% $50,420 to $62,665
University of Pennsylvania 5% $128,909
New York University 7% $144,465
Columbia University 3% $97,027
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities 9% $38,479 to $71,284
University of Iowa 8% $78,996 to $103,216
University of Southern California 6% $153,555
Loma Linda University 5% $88,840
University of the Pacific 5% $119,360
Western University of Health Sciences 3% $117,611

Public schools are typically far less expensive financially than private institutions. Here’s some financial advice: Some states allow you to claim residency after your first year and be eligible for in-state tuition for the next three years, even if you may be paying out-of-state tuition your first year. Some public schools also charge students from adjacent states a regional tuition rate.

Even better, you might be eligible for a scholarship.

  1. ADEA Scholarships, Awards, and Fellowships for Students
  2. Chinese American Medical Society Scholarship Program
  3. Dental Trade Alliance Foundation Scholarships
  4. Hartford Dental Society/James McManus Fund: Student Scholarships
  5. Hispanic Dental Association Foundation Scholarships
  6. National Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship

Four years of dentistry school typically cost several hundred thousand dollars in total. State-to-state and school-to-school differences in living expenses are also significant. It is just one of many variables that potential dentists should carefully take into account.

Some students may also place importance on factors like location and class size. Do you value small class sizes or living in a small community? Or would you rather be in a busy city? Look into these characteristics of the schools and be sure you go on a visit.

To choose the best dentistry school, students should take into account their total mix of criteria, their career aspirations, and mentors’ recommendations. AdmissionSight can also help you with your application and in choosing which one of the best dental schools in the US fits you. Consult with AdmissionSight experts to discuss your strategies starting with an initial consultation.


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