The first thing to do if you are planning to apply to dental school is to read every word of the American Dental Education Association “Go Dental” site.

Secondly, make an appointment with the Health Professions Dental Advisor.

The process of applying to dental school is much like that of applying to medical school. The coursework needed and the application process are very similar. Dental schools are also very competitive. The courses required (which may vary by program) are laid out below. As is the case for students applying to medical school, you will need to have not only a competitive GPA and test scores, but you are expected to have shadowed one or more dentists and have relevant clinical experience, as well as having demonstrated a commitment to service. Please read the introductory sections of this Handbook.


Most students apply to dental school in the summer between their third and fourth years of undergraduate study. In order to be competitive for admission after three years, a student may want to follow this plan:


year 1

Spring year 1 Fall

year 2

Spring year 2 Fall year 3 Spring year 3 Summer

Year 3

Fall year 4 Spring

Year 4

CHM 111/L

MTH 111?

CHM 122/L

BIO 150/L

CHM 223/L

BIO 160/L

CHM 280/L PHY 113/L, or PHY 123/L PHY 114/L, or PHY 124/L

Prepare for DAT

Apply to dental school Complete divisionals and major Complete divisionals and major



64% of dental school applicants major in biology or biomedical sciences, and another 3% in other health-related areas. However, the rate of acceptance to dental school is not higher for students majoring in biology or biomedical sciences than the rate of acceptance of students majoring in other fields. The remainder of applicants are drawn for other fields such as social science, engineering, and business. 


Dental schools ask for a letter from the students’ undergraduate institution(s) that expresses the degree of institutional support for the student’s application and an explanation of that support. This is the Health Professions Committee (HPC) letter.

In the fall of the year in which you plan to apply to dental school, you must attend one of the mandatory meetings held in the fall designed to prepare students for the HPC letter and dental school application processes.

The Health Professions Committee will only write letters for students whose application they can support.  It is important to note that you do not have to have a Health Professions Committee (HPC) letter to apply to medical or dental school. But generally, the lack of a committee letter indicates that your undergraduate institution could not strongly support your application. 

The Process

In the spring of the year you plan to apply to dental school, fill out the FERPA waiver form and provide the names of the individuals who will write your letters of recommendation. The letters will be sent to the HPC, who will forward them to the application service. Please share the first page of the FERPA form with your letter writers to give them instructions for writing and submitting their letter of recommendation to the Committee and information on whether you have or have not waived your right of access to the individual and HPC letters.

The committee will review your letters of recommendation, and HPC application. The HPC application will detail your community service, clinical experiences, shadowing hours, and research. 

By April 15, your Health Professions Committee letter application must be completed. In May, the committee will review your materials which include essays, letters of recommendation, and your academic transcript(s).

Requesting a Health Professions Committee Letter

Begin the process of requesting a Health Professions Committee letter in the spring. Request your three letters of recommendation and complete the ferpa form posted on the website by April 15th. Complete the committee letter application posted on the website by April 15th. In May, the Health Professions Committee will review your application, letters of recommendation and academic record, and a Health Professions Committee letter will be prepared for students whose application the HPC can support.


The DAT is an exam prepared by the American Dental Association. It is required by all US and many Canadian dental schools. The exam covers natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning.

 What is the best time to take the DAT? Any time after you have completed the prerequisite coursework. Since physics is not tested on the DAT, it is possible to take it as early as the summer after your second year. But be sure to allow adequate time to study. You can take the exam as late as spring of the year in which you intend to apply.

For more information about preparing for and taking the DAT, visit the ADA’s DAT website:



Remember to first read the ADEA’s “Go Dental site”!

ADEA offers an official guide to dental school which contains information on how to apply, where to apply, and financing your education. It also has information on every dental school in the US, including statistics on admissions.

As the time to apply approaches, visit the American Dental Association Pre-dental Student Virtual Fair. It offers a free online opportunity to communicate directly with dental school admissions officers about the admissions process.

You will want to begin the process of application to dental school about 18 months before you plan to matriculate, typically in the middle of your third or fourth year. 

Early in the fall semester of your third year, make an appointment with the Director of Health Professions Advising to discuss your progress towards applying to dental school. 

You will also want to make an appointment for an interview with the Director of Health Professions Advising in the spring of the semester before you plan to apply to dental school.  The interview is important for the preparation of the Health Professions Committee letter. You will be asked to reflect on your relevant experiences, explain your motivation for a health professions career, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your inter- and intra-personal skills. Information from the interview will be used in preparing your HPC letter to the medical schools.

Some time between the end of your second and third years, you will take the DAT (Dental Admission Test). (Although Physics is required for dental school, it is not tested on the DAT.)

The DAT is a computer-based test which can be taken at almost any time at testing centers throughout the country. You can find information on the DAT at the American Dental Association site:

The DAT is scored on a scale of 0-30. A score of 21 is in the top 10%.

By February 15th of your third year, you will want to request four letters of recommendation (one from a dentist) and fill out and submit the required waiver forms on VeCollect. 

All US dental schools participate in the ADEA (American Dental Education Association) AADSAS (Associated American Dental School Application Service) centralized application service. The letters of recommendation will be submitted to the Health Professions Committee on VeCollect, which will forward them to the AADSAS. 

During the spring, you should research dental schools and establish the ones to which you will apply.  Work on your personal statement. Attend the spring workshop offered by the Health Professions Committee and the OPCD on how to write an admissions essay/personal statement.

Complete the ADEA AADSAS application early. The verification process can take up to six weeks.

Dentistry application timeline


dental school application timeline

Checklist for Students Applying to Dental School in Spring 2024