Dentists examine, diagnose, and treat patients’ teeth and gums. They often perform surgery on gums and bones, extract teeth and fill cavities in teeth. Dentists actively are involved in preventive treatment. Dentists may work as a general practitioner or specialize in orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, oral pathology, pediatric dentistry, endodontics, or dental public health.


Undergraduate requirements (varies by program):

 Biology (2 courses)  BIO 150, BIO 227 or BIO 233
 Microbiology (1 course)  BIO 231
 Biochemistry (1 course)  CHEM 379
 General Chemistry (2 courses)  CHEM 125, CHEM 126 *
 Organic Chemistry (2 courses)  CHEM 247/253, CHEM 248/254
 Physics (2 courses)  PHYS 124, PHYS 125
 Math (1 course)  MATH 120
 Social and behavioral sciences (2 courses)  Variety of course options; consider PSYCH 125, ECON 121
 English (2 courses)  Variety of course options; some programs may accept WRIT 111
 Art  Although not required, ART 223 is highly recommended!

*General chemistry options:

1. CHEM 125 (Fall), CHEM 126 (Spring)

2. CHEM 121 (Fall), CHEM 123 (Interim), CHEM 126 (Spring)

3. CH/BI 125 (Fall), CH/BI 126 (Interim), CH/BI 127 (Spring, also counts as a semester of general biology)

Be sure to check the admission requirements for the specific programs you will be applying to!


Shadowing a dentist or experiences working in a dental clinic are very valuable. Volunteering abroad at a dental clinic through an international humanitarian opportunity or St. Olaf Global Medical Brigades can be very useful.

Entrance exam:

Dental Admission Test (DAT) – Usually taken in the summer or fall after your junior year, as well as after completing CHEM 125, 126, 247, 248, and BIO 150, 227.

Application and registration for the DAT are two separate processes. The company processes applications on Monday or Tuesday of each week so apply Sunday for prompt return. Register to take the test about three months in advance of the day you plan to take it. Click here for more information on application and registration.

The DAT costs $385, and consists of four computerized tests: natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. Physics 124, 125 are not tested on the DAT but are required for dental school. The scores for each part are out of 30. Scores of 18-19 are the average of matriculated dental students. You will receive your score immediately upon completion. The DAT can only be taken three times, allowing 90 days in between each attempt.  

DAT breakdown:

  • Natural sciences – 90 minutes
    • Biology – 40 questions
    • Chemistry – 40 questions
    • Organic Chemistry – 30 questions
  • Perceptual ability – 60 minutes
    • Six sections of 15 questions each (90 total questions)
  • Reading comprehension – 60 minutes
    • 50 questions
  • Quantitative reasoning – 45 minutes
    • 40 questions

You can send your scores to five dental schools for free when registering. Additional score reports may be requested.

General application:

AADSAS – Costs $227 for the first school and $72 for each additional school.

Health Professions Committee:

Most schools prefer having the Health Professions Committee (HPC) letter submitted as part of the application plus one additional letter of recommendation.

Dental school is four years and graduates can practice general dentistry or acquire post-graduate training in various dental specialties.

– Ted Johnson, Preparation for a Career in Medicine: A Guide for Students


Campus contact:

  • Kevin Crisp, Biology Department
    • Extension: 3981
    • Office: Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences 220

Preparation course:

  • University of Minnesota Dental Preparation Course: This 20-hour intensive program is designed to prepare students for the field of dentistry. The program consists of a series of hands-on pre-clinical exercises and laboratory procedures as well as lectures given by university faculty members, experts in their fields of teaching, research, and practice.

Professional organizations:

Student organization:

  • Pre-Health Club
  • Alpha Epsilon Delta- Pre-health Professionals Honor Society

List of graduate programs: