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Preparing for Admission to Dental School 

This is a summary. Check individual program details in the ADEA guide to Dental Schools which is available for purchase.  Additional information is available for future dental students at the ADEA’s website.


Note: Many dental schools state a minimum GPA, but not everyone attaining that GPA will be admitted, and those admitted generally have very high (>3.75 GPA).

Take these courses in your first three years at UIU (required by most dental schools as prerequisites for admission and recommended content for the DAT exam):

  • Principles of Biology I (BIO 135)
  • Principles of Biology II (BIO 140)
  • General Chemistry I (CHEM 151)
  • General Chemistry II (CHEM 152)
  • Organic Chemistry I (CHEM 251)
  • Organic Chemistry II (CHEM 252)
  • Biochemistry (CHEM 330)
  • Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry (MATH 115)
  • English Composition I (ENG 101)
  • English Composition II (ENG 102)

Additional courses recommended/required by some schools and helpful for the DAT

  • General Genetics (BIO 283)
  • Cell and Molecular Biology (BIO 381)
  • Microbiology (BIO 210)
  • Anatomy and Physiology I (BIO 270)
  • Anatomy and Physiology II (BIO 275)

Physics is required for admission to dental school, but is not content covered on the DAT, so it can be taken in your senior year

  • Physics I + Lab (PHY 111 & 112)
  • Physics II + Lab (PHY 113 & 114)

Additional courses recommended/required by some schools but less essential before the DAT

  • Calculus (MATH 120)
  • Social Science courses (PSY 190, SOC 220, PSY 360, etc.)
  • Expressive arts (these can be chosen to fulfill general education requirements)

Additional courses to earn a major if you complete all the courses listed above, your general education courses (and earn 120 total credit hours):


  • Evolution (BIO 340)
  • Scientific Literature Skills (BIO 201)
  • Thesis I (BIO 398)
  • Thesis II (BIO 498)
  • 2 hrs approved BIO electives
  • Statistics (MATH 220)


While earning excellent grades is essential for admission to dental school, it is not the only thing you will need to do. You should strive to obtain experience in dental offices during your college career. This might include experiences that you do for credit (BIO 303 Experience in Health Science Careers) or on a voluntary basis, and will likely include job-shadowing.

Research experience is also a great way to make your application to dental school stand out. There are many summer research fellowships available, and the research you do need not be dental in nature. Deadlines are usually fall/winter for research experiences the following summer. This is a good website with links to lots of different programs: The summer after your sophomore year is a great time to pursue research opportunities.

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

You will begin the application process to dental school a full year before you expect to matriculate by signing up for and taking the DAT exam (usually during the summer between your junior and senior years). The exam has four sections: Survey of Natural Science, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. In order to do well on the DAT, you will need to learn and retain information from all the courses above that are listed to be taken within your first three years at UIU. For more information about the DAT, visit the ADEA’s website. Two free practice tests are available, and additional practice tests can be purchased.

Application Timelines

Take the DAT the summer before your senior year (register in spring of your junior year). Applications can be submitted via a centralized application service, the ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS) beginning in summer, with most deadlines in the fall. Applications will include detailed academic history as well as an account of any research or job-shadowing/internship and recommendations of faculty and dental professionals. Interviews begin as soon as applications are submitted, and dental schools begin to extend offers of admission as soon as December 2. Applications may be submitted later (through February for some schools), but spots will likely begin to be filled earlier than that.