Academic Requirements for Dental School

Prior to sitting for the Dental Admission Test (DAT), prospective applicants should have completed the following common minimum requirements for American dental schools:

  • 2 semesters of General Biology with lab (BIOL 107-108)
  • 1-2 semesters of Anatomy and/or Physiology (such as BIOL 302, 315, 325 and/or 365/365L)
  • 2 semesters of General Chemistry with lab (CHEM 130-131)
  • 2 semesters of Organic Chemistry with lab (CHEM 329, 330, 331, and 332; or 333 in place of 330 and 332)
  • 1 semester of Biochemistry (CHEM 335)
  • 2 semesters of General Physics with lab (PHYS 185-186 or PHYS 195-196)
  • 1-2 semesters of English

Some schools have additional requirements and/or strong recommendations for courses.  Information and data about specific schools and their requirements, as well as other valuable advice, may be found at the Commission on Dental Accreditation website.

Grades and Course Load

The detailed academic record is the prime indicator of an applicant’s talent, performance, and judgment. In general, admissions committees like to see evidence that you can do well while carrying a substantial course load (15-17 credit hours), but remember: you must establish a very good GPA, and it may be very difficult to do so with a heavy course load. Dental schools look for A’s and B’s in classes overall, as well as a strong science GPA. Faced with the prospect of a C, some students will want to withdraw (W) and try for a higher grade later. More than two W’s indicates a lack of judgment and an inability to handle difficult situations. Remember, course withdrawals must be recorded on dental school applications, so this is something to discuss with your advisor.