Dentists diagnose and treat problems with a patient’s teeth, gums, and other parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.

Careers within dentistry are diverse and provide many opportunities for challenging and rewarding service. Most dentists are general practitioners, handling a variety of dental needs. Other dentists practice in any of nine specialty areas:

  • Orthodontists
  • Oral and Maxillofacil Surgeons
  • Pediatric Dentists
  • Periodontists
  • Prosthodontists
  • Endodontists
  • Public Health Dentists
  • Oral Pathologists
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist

Admission Requirements for Dental School

From the time you begin college, you are assembling a complete universal application to apply to these professional schools. Dental schools will review your application holistically, and you can work with your advisors to provide a competitive application.


Most programs look for a minimum undergraduate cumulative 3.0 GPA but the average GPA for matriculates is a 3.5 cumulative and a 3.4 in the sciences. Keep in mind these numbers are averages and various schools can have their own averages that are higher or lower. Also, these averages are climbing higher each year and admission to dental schools is more competitive than ever. Be sure you take your studies seriously and put in the proper time for reading, studying, and review for each course.

DAT (Dental Admission Test)

A minimum DAT score of 16 is typical with the average for matriculates about 19/30 and an 18/30 on the PAT section. You should aim to have a score between 19-20 in order to stay competitive.

Most students take this exam the summer before their senior year. In order to register for the DAT you will need to complete the following:

Quick Look at the DAT

Section Content CMU courses with relevant content

Survey of Natural Sciences (90 minutes, 100 questions,
score 1-30)

General Chemistry
Organic Chemistry

BIO 110, 208, 324, 326
CHM 131, 132
CHM 345, 346

Reading Comprehension
(60 minutes, 50 questions,
score 1-30)

Evaluate and apply information
and arguments presented
in prose

Courses that emphasize critical thinking and reasoning skills. Many UP courses and BIO 490 capstone courses.

Perceptual Ability Test
(60 minutes, 90 questions,
score 1-30)

Angle Discriminate
Cube Counting
3D Form
Paper Folding

ART 110 or 115 or 118

Quantitative Reasoning
(45 minutes, 40 questions,
score 1-30)

Word Problems

MTH 105
MTH 106
MTH 107
MTH 130

Where is the DAT administered?

Multiple locations throughout Michigan and the United States

What is the cost of the DAT?


How should you prepare for the DAT?

  • Begin at least 3 months before your test date
  • Questions emphasize problem-solving abilities, not rote memorization
  • Essential to obtain practice tests
  • Look for perceptual ability practice tests online

Experience in Dentistry

It is expected by most Dental schools that candidates will exhibit a confirmed interest and motivation in a dental career by participating in career-related activities such as job shadowing, community service and other volunteer opportunities. You should demonstrate an interest in addressing health gaps or commitment to service and care for underserved communities to make yourself more desirable. Having strong career experiences and life accomplishments will allow you to validate your professionalism and maturity, which are strongly considered in the application process. Additionally, many dental schools require students to job shadow a dentist for a minimum of 100 hours.

Other qualifications. Dentistry requires diagnostic ability and manual skills. You should have good visual memory; excellent judgment regarding space, shape and color; a high degree of manual dexterity; and scientific ability.

Michigan Dental Schools

Applying to Dental Schools

Most Dental Schools use the ADEA AADSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service) site as a centralized application site.

Course Requirements

While a few dental schools suggest that applicants must have at least 2 years of pre-program coursework, a bachelor's degree is typically required. The choice of an undergraduate major while preparing for dental school is not especially critical for successful admission, but the selection of certain coursework is important.

Certain basic requirements must be fulfilled before you can be accepted to dental school.

  • 1 year Inorganic Chemistry with labs
  • 1 year Organic Chemistry with labs
  • 1 year Physics with labs
  • 1 year Biology with labs
  • 1 year English 
  • 1 semester Biochemistry

Below are the CMU courses we recommend to meet these requirements:

Subjects Course Numbers Credits
General Chemistry CHM 131 & CHM 132 8 credits
Organic Chemistry CHM 345, CHM 346 & CHM 349 8 credits


PHY 130, PHY 131, PHY 170 & PHY 171
or PHY 145, PHY 146, PHY 175 & PHY 176
8 credits
Biology BIO 110 & BIO 208 7 credits
English ENG 101 & ENG 201 6 credits
​Biochemistry ​CHM 425 or CHM 521 & 522 ​4-6 credits

Some dental schools may have additional courses required or recommended. Review the admission requirements of the dental schools you plan on applying in advance.

All required courses must be taken for a grade. Each school has its own policy regarding AP credit. Usually, AP credit in these areas should be followed with additional upper level work in the same discipline including labs.

Additional Courses

To further strengthen your application and your ability to succeed in dental school, here are some additional CMU courses you could take:

Subjects Course Numbers
Anatomy HSC 214 or BIO 337
Cell Biology BIO 324
Genetics BIO 326
Histology BIO 536
Physiology HSC 215 or BIO 392
Psychology PSY 100
Sociology SOC 100
​Statistics/Math ​BIO 500 or STA 282 or MTH 106 or higher

Pre-Dental Society

The CMU Pre-Dental Society assists students who are interested in the profession of dentistry.

The club meets bi-weekly on Wednesdays at 8:00 PM.

Job Outlook

Dentists held about 155,700 jobs in 2010. According to the American Dental Association, about 3 out of 4 dentists in private practice are solo proprietors, and almost 15 percent belong to a partnership.

Employment of dentists is projected to grow 21 percent through 2020, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be good, reflecting the need to replace the large number of dentists expected to retire.


Median annual wages of salaried general dentists were $146,920 in May 2010. Earnings vary according to the number of years in practice, hours worked and specialty. Self-employed dentists in private practice tend to earn more than salaried dentists.


Online Resources

For information on dentistry as a career:

For more information on general dentistry or on a specific dental specialty:


Pre-Health Professions advising is available to assist and support students in a holistic process of education and preparation for dental school. Students are encouraged to meet with the pre-health advisor before meeting with a faculty advisor to learn the basics in preparing for dental school.

Pre-Health Professions Academic Advisor

Lisa E. Snider
Emmons Hall 136B
(989) 774-2711

Biology Faculty Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Kelty
Brooks Hall 192
(989) 774-1382

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