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Schools and Colleges with Pre-Dental Programs: How to Choose

Pre-dental programs are not typically offered as majors or degrees unto themselves, but rather as pre-professional programs or advising tracks taken alongside a separate major. These programs usually are monitored by school counselors and are designed to help students meet necessary prerequisites for entrance into a U.S. dental school.

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How to Select a Pre-Dental School

Aspiring dental students can prepare for dental school by participating in a pre-dental program offered by 4-year colleges and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Pre-dental courses
  • Fast-track options
  • Related extracurricular opportunities

Pre-Dental Courses

Some colleges and universities offer pre-dentistry as a major; however, most dental schools accept students from a variety of bachelor's degree programs, as long as they've completed the undergraduate courses required for admission. These courses generally include biology, chemistry and physics, so aspiring dentists should choose a major that contains these classes or offers them as electives. Some dental schools also might seek applicants with backgrounds in behavioral sciences, biochemistry, English and organic chemistry.

Fast-Track Options

Students interested in fast-tracking their dental education might choose to enroll in a program that offers accelerated curriculum options at the undergraduate level, leading to dental school in two or three years instead of four. Such programs allow the student to obtain a bachelor's degree and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) in 5-7 years.

Related Extracurricular Opportunities

Additionally, students might seek a pre-dental program that offers internship opportunities. This would allow them to gain clinical experience prior to entering dental school. Prospective dental school candidates also might look for colleges and universities that offer pre-dental student groups, as well as knowledgeable academic advisers.

Pre-Dental Program Overviews

Combination Pre-Dental and Dental Programs

These programs are available at some colleges and universities that offer D.D.S. programs at the graduate level. Students can earn both their bachelor's degree and D.D.S. in as little as five years. These programs are academically rigorous and typically include undergraduate courses in:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Organic chemistry

Pre-Dental Preparation Programs

These programs are designed to be completed alongside separate bachelor's degree programs. Students may have opportunities to get involved in a pre-dental club, gain dental healthcare experience and practice interviewing for dental school admissions. Coursework prepares students for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and covers the same science areas as for the combination programs.

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