The dental profession is the branch of health care devoted to maintaining the health of the teeth, gums and other tissues in and around the mouth. A dentist is a doctor, scientist and clinician dedicated to the highest standards of health through prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases and conditions.

Dentists play a key role in the early detection of oral cancer and other systemic conditions of the body that manifest themselves in the mouth. They often identify other health conditions, illnesses, and other problems that sometimes show up in the oral cavity before they are identified in other parts of the body.


What does a Dentist do? 

  • Evaluates the overall health of their patients while advising them about oral health and disease prevention.
  • Performs clinical procedures, such as exams, fillings, crowns, implants, extractions and corrective surgeries.
  • Identifies, diagnoses and treats oral conditions.
  • Performs general dentistry or practices in one of nine dental specialties. (from ADEA website)



In making decisions about admissions, dental schools consider a range of factors that may vary from one school to another. All prerequisite courses usually need to be completed with a grade of C or above.


It is recommended, and often required, that you complete the following courses:*

Biology 1 year w. lab (generally BIO 150 and BIO 227), Biochemistry (CHEM 379), Anatomy & Physiology (BIO 243)

Note: Some dental schools require a course in microbiology (BIO 231). Additional courses in biology are also recommended.

Chemistry 1 year Gen Chem w. lab (CHEM 125 & 126 or CH/BI 125 & 227 or CHEM 121, 123, and 126 or CHEM 122 & 126)

1 year organic chemistry with lab (CHEM 247 & 248)

Physics 1 year with lab (PHYS 124 & 125)
Math & Stats Calculus (MATH 119 or 120) and Statistics – (STAT 212)
Psychology Principles of Psychology (PSYCH 125)
Economics Economics of Health Care (ECON 245) is highly recommended
English Two composition courses recommended in addition to literature and public speaking (Courses taken outside English may require explanation to dental schools during application.) 
Art At least one course demonstrating manual dexterity strongly recommended


Sample Course Timeline

The following timeline is an example of how you might wish to schedule your prerequisite courses. Timing of these courses may change due to major requirements, study abroad experiences, cohort coursework such as Great Con or Ch/Bi, timing of the DAT/application, and admissions guidelines at graduate schools. In addition to these courses, each student will fit in any classes required by their major. All students are strongly encouraged to meet with Professor Crisp to plan pre-dental courses. All students must also consult with their advisors regarding course selection.


Year 1: General Chemistry, MATH 119 or 120, PSYCH 125, BIO 150 (or year 2) 

Year 2: CHEM 247 & 248, BIO 150 (or year 1), BIO 227, STAT 212

Year 3/4:  CHEM 379, PHYS 124 & 125, BIO 243, BIO 231 and/or additional biology courses


Sample Prerequisite Course Requirements for Admission to Dental School


*Please note, it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure they complete all prerequisite coursework in the time required for admission. Please consult each dental school’s website for prerequisite requirements.


Partial List of Dental Schools Accepting International Applicants (for more, see Kevin Crisp or Katie Hughes)


WHAT STANDARDIZED TEST WILL I NEED TO TAKE? Dental Admissions Test (DAT), Additional Information




  • Shadowing: Over 100 hours is generally required with at least 50 hours of shadowing a general dentist.
  • Volunteering: It is highly recommended that you volunteer in your community, starting as early as your first year at St. Olaf. Although your volunteer role can be in healthcare or outside of healthcare, we recommend that you aim to volunteer in both capacities. Dental schools are looking for applicants with sustained and meaningful volunteer experiences. They don’t want students who are simply checking the “volunteer box.”
  • Internship(s): It is recommended that you gain experience in the field through interning at a dental clinic, a department of health, a community clinic, etc. Internships outside of dentistry are highly beneficial as well.
  • Research: It is highly recommended that you complete at least one 10-week research experience. You do not have to find a research opportunity that is related to dentistry.
  • Leadership: It is strongly recommended that you serve in a leadership capacity (president of an organization, academic tutor, service on an advisory board, etc.). Leaders can enhance their communication and organizational skills, as well as learn how to interact with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds.
  • Manual Dexterity: Engage in activities that you enjoy doing in your spare time that demonstrate manual dexterity (e.g. piano, painting, sculpting, wood carving, cross stitching, knitting, tying fishing knots, etc.).
  • Preparation course: University of Minnesota Dental Preparation Course offers pre-dental students an opportunity to discover dentistry by acquiring hands-on experience in cavity preparation, crown preparation, diagnostic impressions, cast fabrication, diagnostic wax-up, and bleaching tray fabrication. 



Study Abroad

Pre-health Professionals Club

Pre-health Moodle site

Pre-health Google calendar

Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry

Alpha Epsilon Delta: Preprofessional Health Honor Society



American Dental Education Association

American Dental Association



Professor Kevin Crisp (Professor of Biology, Chair of the Health Professions Committee)

Office: Pre-Health Advising in Piper Center (TOH 270) Phone: 507-786-3981 Email:


*Ultimately, it is the responsibility of applicants to ensure that they complete all prerequisite coursework and experiential opportunities required for successful admission to dental school.

To download and print, click on this link: Dentistry