Betty McDonald Pre-Med Institute

Dental School Requirements

This is an overview of what will be expected of students planning to enter a dental program in the U.S. Each school will have slightly different requirements, but most expect that you will have completed your pre-health studies at a school in the United States.

For an overview of how the Betty McDonald Pre-Med institute works with you to help you fulfill each of these requirements, take a look at our MonthlySemester and Yearly checklists.

DAT Score

The Dental Admissions Test is required by all dental schools. Each school has a minimum required score on the DAT, but the average score of accepted students is at least 18 on a 30 point scale.

Bachelor's Degree

While you may complete your degree in any major you desire, you are required to have taken specific classes including 1 year (8 credits) of general chemistry with laboratories (2 credits), 1 year of organic chemistry with laboratories, 1 year of physics with laboratories and 1 year of biology. In addition to these courses, many dental schools require biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, human physiology or vertebrate physiology, one year of English composition and recommend coursework in social sciences, business, foreign language, and art, especially sculpture. We recommend that students major in Biology, Chemistry or a related scientific field in order to best prepare themselves for what they will be expected to know in dental school.

The required class numbers at SUU are:

BIOL 1610, 1615, 1620, 1625
CHEM 1210, 1215, 1220, 1225
CHEM 2310, 2315, 2320, 2325
and PHYS 2010, 2015, 2020, 2025


A score of 3.5 (B+ to A- average) on a 4 point scale is the lowest average Grade Point Average of students currently being accepted into dental schools. the average GPA of accepted students varies year by year, but has been rising over the last few years due to increased competition.

Professional Skills

Applicants to dental school will have to pass an interview with the prospective school. This interview may last up to two hours and will test your ability to communicate well with others as well as your problem solving, observational, analytical and behavioral attributes. In short, you will need to convince the interviewer that you are the kind of person who will become a successful health professional. You must show passion for your field of study and an interest to learn.

Profession-Related Experience

Dental schools expect you to have had experience working in a dental environment. This should be done consistently over the course of your study.  A common requirement is 50 - 100 hours job shadowing or working in a dental related capacity which can easily be done by shadowing 2-3 hours per week. The programs of MPI will help you to arrange local opportunities to receive this experience.

Leadership Experience

Future health professionals need to be leaders in their professional and everyday communities. A normal expectation is that you will hold at least three different leadership positions during your pre-dental years. These experiences can be accomplished through participation in clubs, religious organizations and campus entities.

Research Experience

A pharmacist must be a researcher, able to gather information and draw conclusions. You will need to have experience writing research papers and participating in research conferences. All students of MPI are guided through the process of obtaining sufficient research experience.

Volunteer Experience

As a health professional, you will need not only to know the people you will serve, you must also demonstrate an interest in making their lives better. There is no better way to gain experience and show you care about others than through volunteer work, which is why it is a major focus of MPI's curriculum. Many dental schools ask for 45 hours of volunteer work per year. Volunteering consistently for a specific cause may help open up leadership opportunities with that organization or group. 

Communication and Language Skills

Expressing yourself in English can be difficult enough without having to worry about medically specific vocabulary, and yet, this is something all international health students will have to deal with. To succeed, you will need to develop the ability to convey ideas clearly and to understand others, including patients who may come from extremely different backgrounds from your own. Language is only one piece of this puzzle. You will need a working knowledge of cultures, symbols and non-verbal communication as well. Through practice and specialized education, you will obtain all the skills necessary to communicate with those around you.

Letters of Recommendation

Many dental schools ask for two professional letters of recommendation from a professor, supervisor or someone else you have worked for, and another letter from a practicing dental professional you have shadowed or worked with. These letters should attest to your good moral character and work ethic. MPI's mentors and instructors are good sources of these letters, as they will have worked closely with you, as well as people and groups you have served through volunteer work.

Personal Statement Essay

With your application for dental school, you will likely need to include an essay describing the personal attributes that will make you a valued member of the student body of the school and an asset to the dental community. It should describe the experiences that have helped develop you as a person and that have led you to apply to dental school. It can include your thoughts, goals and strengths, as well as areas you feel you need to improve.

Manual Dexterity

A future dentist must be able to show good hand/eye coordination and control of finger movements. You can develop these traits by learning to play an instrument such as a guitar or piano, or by practicing sculpture. Dental schools will expect you to show that you are good with your hands.