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Pre-Dental FAQ

Pre-Dental FAQ

Academics, advising, and clubs

What is the best major for dental school?

Students can apply to dental school with any major, as long as the required pre-requisite coursework is complete. You should choose a major that interests you. The Biology and BioHealth science majors have pre-dental options, however all majors in the college of science contain the majority of pre-requisite coursework for dental school.

What are the required courses for dental school?

Requirements generally include a year each of General Chemistry, General Biology, General Physics and Organic Chemistry; OHSU also requires a year of Anatomy & Physiology and a course in Biochemistry. Students should research individual dental schools for specific pre-requisite information.

Will I have a pre-dental advisor?

Yes. There are pre-dental advisors at OSU.

Pre-Dental Advisors

For all other majors, please email for more information.

How can I learn more about dental school and dentistry as a career?

Enroll in BHS 107: Pre-Dental Orientation. This is a one-credit course offered winter term graded Pass/No Pass. The course covers information about the field of dentistry and the application process. Guest speakers visit throughout the term and field trips are taken to a dental office and a dental lab, where manual dexterity is practiced.

What GPA is required to get into dental school?

Dental school is competitive. The average overall GPA of admitted students for 2021 was 3.6. For OHSU, it was 3.73.

How will dental schools view repeats?

Dental schools do not replace grades, and will consider every attempt of a class in their GPA calculation. You must have at least a C in all required Pre-Dental classes. It makes sense in some circumstances to repeat a course in which you earned a toto earn an excellent grade (preferably an A) to show mastery of the material. Check with your advisor.

Will dental schools accept AP/IB credit?

Some schools will accept AP/IB scores for pre-requisite coursework, and others evaluate coursework on a case-by-case basis or do not accept AP/IB credits at all. Students generally won’t know the portfolio of schools they will want to apply to (generally 10 or more schools) by the time they need to make a decision about using their AP scores versus taking college courses to meet pre-requisites. To leave their application options open, students interested in dental school are encouraged to take their pre-requisite coursework at Oregon State University (OSU course numbers BI 211-213, CH 231-233 and CH 261-263, PH 201-203) even if they were awarded credit for AP scores. See your advisor for more information.

Does OSU have a Pre-Dental club?

Yes. Join the listserv to get information on meeting times, guest speakers, volunteer opportunities and more. To join the listserv, send a blank email to:

Where are the dental schools in Oregon?

Oregon Health and Sciences University, located in Portland, is the only dental school in the state.

Can someone from a disadvantaged background gain admission to dental school? What if no one from my family was a dentist? What if I came from a high school where there were no advanced classes?

Dental schools are very committed to admitting a broad and diverse class to meet the healthcare needs of our changing population. Many resources at OSU can help you strengthen your academics. There are also summer programs at dental schools that are designed to help support rural, disadvantaged and underrepresented minority students to gain entrance to professional school. An example of one is the Summer Health Professions Education Program.

Volunteer work and healthcare experience

How can I get experience in the healthcare field?

Students can gain experience through volunteering, part-time jobs, internships and job shadowing. OHSU requires at least 50 hours of shadowing and, at least 25 hours with a general dentist. The local dental community has been supportive and has welcomed OSU students into their offices to observe. You may contact them directly.

Where can I do volunteer work?

Many organizations on campus and in the community need volunteers. Volunteering opportunities and pre-dental club events are shared through the pre-dental listserv.

Letters of evaluation

From whom should I request letters of recommendation?

Ask people who know you well. Of the four letters required, one must be from a dentist and, at least two must be from science professors (such as Biological Science, Chemistry, etc.; Applied Science such as Engineering and Nutrition do not count as basic science). In addition, you should seek a letter from a dentist. The fourth letter can be from any science or non-science professor, dentist, volunteer coordinator or work supervisor. It is extremely important to build a relationship with your professors so that they can get to know you. Dental schools require confidential letters as this allows the letters to be candid about you. You should also consult the individual letter requirements of the schools you choose to apply to to ensure you are meeting their minimum letter requirements.

The application process

How can I get help during the application process?

In addition to meeting with your Pre-Dental advisor, an application seminar is offered during winter term every year. Refer to the OSU Pre-Dental Application page and ADEA for general information about the application process and the centralized application, AADSAS. Be sure to read the FAQ section.

What is the DAT and when should I take it?

The DAT (Dental Admission Test) is a multiple-choice exam required by those who are applying to dental schools in the United States. This exam assesses dental school applicants’ potential for success. It measures a person’s skills in the following four areas: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning.

Take the DAT when you are most ready for it, preferably by the end of July. Never take it just to see what it is like or before you have completed the coursework. Taking it early allows you time to consider your next step after getting your score (whether to possibly retake or postpone your application to dental school). It is a computer-based test offered at Thomson Prometric Centers.

It is important to be well-prepared for this exam. It is an essential component of your application. Scores range from 1 to 30. OHSU requires a minimum of 21 on each section and their average score is 19.6.

My DAT score was lower than I expected. Can I retake it?

You must wait 90 days to retake the DAT. Talk with your advisor before retaking it.

When should I submit my transcripts to AADSAS? Do I need all of them even from takincollege-levelel course in high school?

You must submit ALL transcripts even if the credit from a class taken in high school appears on your OSU transcript. If ordering a transcript from a community college allow 6 weeks to receive it. You can request a transcript before spring term is complete, and ask the registrar to hold your transcript until spring grades are final. If you are late in submitting your transcripts, the verification of your AADSAS application will be delayed.

When should I submit my application?

Submit your application as soon as it is complete and you are satisfied with the content. Many schools use rolling admissions, meaning that there are fewer spots at dental schools as the cycle progresses. Aim to have your application complete by August 1, where possible. You will be at a serious disadvantage if you apply later in the cycle. Actual deadlines vary by school; the earliest deadline is October 15 (OHSU’s deadline is November 1).

Do I need to wait to submit my application until my letters of evaluation are ready?

No. The letters are completely separate from your application.

How can I prepare for my dental school interview?

You can ask your dentist to help with this. The OSU Career Development Center (Kerr Administration Building) also offers mock interviews and can be tailored to meet the needs of dental school applicants. Sample interview questions are also available from the Pre-Dental Club.

How can I pay for dental school?

Dental school training is very expensive and most students take out loans to pay for it. The average payback time is around 10 years. There are other options such as the military Health Professions Scholarship programs:

U.S. Army
U.S. Air Force
U.S. Navy

and programs such as the National Health Services Corps

More information is available at the American Dental Education Association

What are my options if I am not admitted to dental school?

You should not reapply if nothing significant has changed. Meet with your Pre-Dental advisor to discuss a possible reapplication before making any decisions. You can usually get some advice from dental schools about how to improve your application. There are several options to consider.

What are some other dental careers?

There are several dental hygiene programs in Oregon at Pacific University, OIT, and the following community colleges: Portland, Mt. Hood, and Lane. Dental Lab Technician and Dental Assisting have also worked well for some students.