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Dentist Majors: College Majors for Aspiring Dentists

Read about potential college majors for aspiring dentists. Explore the course requirements of three science-related bachelor's degree programs. Review the continuing education options for graduates as well as the employment and salary projections for dentists.

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Essential Information

While any major may be acceptable when applying to dental schools, students have to complete a set amount of classes in the sciences and the liberal arts. Some universities offer pre-dentistry tracks, but students still have to select a major in a broader scientific subject. Some common 4-year degree programs that meet dental school requirements are in biology, chemistry or physics.

Students who choose to major in biology could acquire knowledge of life and various diseases through the study of topics such as cell biology, ecology and immunology. Chemistry majors could learn about chemical compounds and elements. Various aspects of organic and analytical chemistry are explored in this undergraduate program. Quantum mechanics and astronomy are some core areas of study in bachelor's-level physics programs. Each type of program should offer classroom and laboratory experiences.


Bachelor of Science in Biology

Biology primarily studies life and its processes. In many cases, these programs will include coursework that satisfies dental school prerequisites. In addition to core biology and mathematics courses, students have the opportunity to choose electives that focuses on zoology, ecology or genetics. Some programs may also specialize in a field like cell or molecular biology, which focuses on how cells interact with diseases or organisms. A high school diploma or the equivalent is typically the only educational requirement for admission.

Course Topics

Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in biology can focus on the comprehensive study and research of life. In addition to biology courses, students can study subjects like:

  • Calculus
  • Genetics
  • Chemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Immunology
  • Physics
  • Biometry

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

A bachelor's degree in chemistry may also be useful to aspiring dentists, as these programs fulfill dental school prerequisites in chemistry and mathematics. Chemistry programs typically include laboratory work and focus on how elements react to one another in the environment. Students learn about chemical compounds, synthetic reactions, chemical bonds and lab safety. A high school diploma or the equivalent is typically required for admission.

Course Topics

In these programs, students learn about chemical principles of the elements and of molecules. In addition to classroom lectures, students learn how to use laboratory equipment and perform experiments in order to understand chemical theories. Some common courses may include:

  • General chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Physics

Bachelor of Science in Physics

Students in a physics degree program study advanced mathematics, computational techniques and physics theories. Students can easily fulfill the common dental school prerequisites of physics and math. Applicants must hold a high school diploma in order to enroll.

Course Topics

Students are expected to complete foundational physics courses and choose electives, such as optics to nuclear physics. Some common courses in these programs may include:

  • Thermal physics
  • Astronomy
  • Calculus
  • Modern physics
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Applied physics

Continuing Education Information and Licensure

After earning a degree in an appropriate undergraduate field of study, students can apply to an accredited dental school. They are required to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) for admissions. A Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree program provides courses like microbiology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. Students also participate in labs and clinical rounds in which they treat actual patients under the supervision of dentists.

In addition to the four years of dental school, aspiring dentists must be licensed by their individual states. Licensure includes both a practical and written exam. In order to be eligible for the licensing exam, future dentists may have to complete postgraduate residencies and education.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of dentists is expected to grow 16% from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). This growth may be attributed to an increasing elderly population needing more dental care. Dentists are responsible for the preventative care of teeth, oral surgery and the administration of anesthetics. The BLS states that the median annual income for general dentists was $141,040 in May 2010.

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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (7)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
    • Missouri (2)
    • North Carolina (2)
    • New Jersey (3)
    • Nevada (1)
    • New York (2)
    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (4)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your classroom preference?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Bachelor
        • Bachelor of Science - Healthcare Management With a Dental Hygiene Emphasis

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Which degree level do you plan to pursue?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (4 campuses)
    • California (22)
    • Colorado (2)
    • Florida (3)
    • Hawaii (2)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Texas (4)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    Do you prefer online or campus based learning?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • A minimum 2.0 GPA
    • Submit high school transcript(s)
    • Submit college transcript(s) (if applicable)
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Bachelor
        • B.S. in Health Sciences

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
        • Advanced General Dentistry Programs
        • Dentistry - DDS, DMD
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety

Popular Schools

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