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Applying to Dental School Information

Overview and Pre-requisites

The minimum requirement for application to most dental schools is two academic years of liberal arts study. However, many schools in the United States request three years of college education and most prefer a baccalaureate degree. Over ninety percent of the students entering U.S. dental schools in 2000 completed four or more years of preprofessional education. An extremely well-qualified applicant with only 2 years of pre-professional training might be considered and could gain acceptance. However, as in most academically-oriented fields, a more extensive academic record is preferred and will generally be required. For example, less than 3 percent of students accepted into dental school in 2000 had just two years of preprofessional education.

Dental schools require certain predental education courses which must be completed prior to enrollment in dental school. Schools vary somewhat in these requirements. A good place to verify these requirements is in a book called Official Guide to Dental Schools, which may be viewed in the office of the ISU Health Professions Advisory Committee.

The address of each United States and Canadian dental school can be found in the above book, so that further information about a school's requirements can be requested. It is essential that the applicant inquire about requirements of the schools he/she is interested in! 

Visit the ADEA web site at: for order information.

The minimum course requirements for most dental schools are not extensive. Dental schools want potential applicants to fill remaining class time with courses which will broaden his/her knowledge and better equip him/her for community life. A dentist is a highly skilled professional, but he/she also must know how to deal with and understand people in his/her practice.

Typical Admission Requirements

  1. Minimum years of college: 2 (however, the typical admitted student will have a bachelor's degree)
  2. Dental Admission Test (DAT): Required by all dental schools
  3. Required courses 



ISU Equivalent

General Chemistry


CHEM 1111 & Lab, CHEM 1112 & Lab

Organic Chemistry


CHEM 3301 & Lab, CHEM 3302 & Lab

General Biology


BIOL 1101 & Lab, BIOL 1102 & Lab



PHYS 1111 & Lab, PHYS 1112 & Lab

English Composition


ENGL 1101, ENGL 1102

Additional Suggested Courses

In addition to the pre-entrance requirements listed above it is recommended that the applicant choose electives that will broaden his/her cultural and scientific background. It is recommended that the student follow a curriculum which includes baccalaureate requirements. Students who will possess a baccalaureate degree upon matriculation at the dental school will be much stronger applicants than those who will not.

CourseCreditsISU Equivalent
Biochemistry 3-6 BIOL 4432 or BIOL 4445 & BIOL 4447
Human Anatomy and Physiology 8 BIOL 3301 & Lab, BIOL 3302 & Lab
Cell Biology 4 BIOL 2206 & Lab

Dental Admission Test and Preparation

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is conducted by the Council on Dental Education of the American Dental Association. It has been administered on a national basis since 1950 and is now required by all U.S. dental schools. The exam is given by computer only, giving full control of timing of the exam to the applicant. The best time to take the exam is in April, May, or June one year prior to entry into dental school. This timing will allow the applicant one retake (there is a 90 day waiting period after taking the exam before one can repeat the exam) before admissions decisions are made. ISU students can obtain an application for this exam from the Chair of the ISU Health Professions Advisory Committee. The application and appropriate fee is then forwarded to the following address:

Dental Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1846
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Phone (312) 440-2689

Online registration for the DAT is now available. Search for the DAT Program Guide for information.  Be sure to read the guide completely and carfully.

Because of the computerized format, the ADA has contracted with Prometric test centers to administer the test.  The Dental Admission Testing Program assumes the applicant to have completed at least one year of college education which included courses in biology, organic, and inorganic chemistry. Physics is not covered on the test. An applicant can take the DAT as many times as one wishes. It is the policy of the Council on Dental Education, however, that the results of the most recent four exams will be released to the dental schools. Test results are reported to the applicant and the dental schools within two to four weeks. Through the use of standard scores, it is possible to compare the applicant directly with dental school candidates on a national basis. This test can be important in your selection because it is the only chance for a dental school to quantitatively compare applicants on a common basis.

There are four areas of examination in the DAT. They are the following:

  1. Natural sciences -biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry.
  2. Reading comprehension - dental and basic sciences.
  3. Quantitative reasoning ability - mathematical problems in algebra, numerical calculations, coversions, etc
  4. Perceptual ability - two and three dimensional problem solving.

Section scores are reported for Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Total Sciences, and Perceptual Ability (PAT). The most important scores are the academic average and the PAT.

Review class notes from courses that will be covered on the DAT. Be sure to get a good night's sleep before the exam.

American Association of Dental Schools Application Service(AADSAS)

Most dental schools in the U.S. utilize the AADSAS. This service enables applicants to apply simultaneously to a number of schools by submitting application information to a single agency. At this point, a computer compiles all information, computes overall science and non-science grade point averages, and transmits standardized applications to all schools requested by the applicant. AADSAS is not involved with the appraisal or selection of the candidates.

More information can be found by accessing the "American Dental Education Association (ADEA)" on their home-page at , or "American Dental Association (ADA) on their home-page at

Beginning in 1999, it became possible to submit the AADSAS application over the internet at When sending your completed application to AADSAS, each applicant must submit the following:

  1. AADSAS Application
  2. Official transcripts for all course work at every college attended
  3. Check or money order for AADSAS processing fees. In total, the application seeks information regarding education background, grades, family background, financial status, and collegiate extracurricular activities. Also, space is provided for explaining why one has elected to apply to dental school and to elaborate on any material in your application.

The AADSAS processing fee is a fixed basic fee for the first school being applied to and a smaller additional fee for each school thereafter.

Individual schools have application deadlines which range from October 15 through March 1. However, it is almost essential to submit your AADSAS application in June. The longer your application is in someone's hand, the more time they will have to look at it. Also if any problems occur with your application, you will have time to remedy the situation. Approximately three-fourths of all dental students are accepted on December 1 of the year of application. Fifty-two dental schools in the United States and two in Canada participate in AADSAS.

Application Procedure

Most applicants will use AADSAS (described above). Follow those directions closely.

The first step an applicant should take is to select the dental schools to which he/she will apply. This decision is personal and should be based upon many factors such as entrance requirements, residency requirements, financial considerations, state contractual agreements, curriculum, reputation, accreditation, and other programs. Further information can be obtained by contacting the individual schools, pre-dental advisors, and practicing dentists. Be aware that a number of state dental schools will allow students to become residents during the first year of dental school. Nonresident fees would need to be paid only during the first year of the program in such cases. This varies from state to state.

The application process should begin about one year preceding the time of desired entry. This is usually between June and July (ideally, early in June). Also most schools request that the DAT scores be sent to them at the time the applicant is applying. When the application is received by the dental school, it will be screened and studied by an admissions committee. Their decision will be based upon DAT scores, science and non-science grade point average, biographical information, undergraduate school, residency, letters of recommendation, and other various kinds of information required by schools on an individual basis.

If the applicant is deficient in any application materials sent to the respective school, that school will usually send him/her a card or email message stating what information they need. However, if you do not hear from a school for quite some time after applications have been sent (a school will usually send the applicant a card or email message stating that his/her file is complete), you should contact the school asking if your file is complete. A phone call may be more efficient. Never take anything for granted in your application procedure; make sure for yourself that you have the best chance possible of acceptance to dental school.

Dental schools that do not participate in AADSAS require that an applicant apply on their individual application forms. You may obtain one by writing to the school and asking them to send you their application materials. You can obtain any school's address in the book, Official Guide to Dental Schools. Links to all US and Canadian dental schools can be accessed at

Interviews With Dental Schools

Many dental schools require an interview, but some do not. An interview, even if not required, will usually benefit the applicant since that school will be able to associate a personality with an application. The reason some schools do not require the interview is because travel is expensive and they do not want to place excess economic pressures on the applicant. As a result, comments in your application and letters of recommendation play an important role in acceptance.

The interview usually takes place between September and January. Dental schools will tell you if they need an interview. Dental schools do not have time to interview all their applicants. As a result, those that are asked for interviews are being highly considered for acceptance. If an applicant has not heard from the school he/she is interested in, and wants an interview, there is often a way to get one (this also depends on the school). Remember though, that dental admissions committees don't like to be pushed, so be tactful. If you can arrange it, visit the school and talk with someone on the admissions committee. Do not just drop in for a visit. Make a phone call to the school and tell them you will be in the area of their school at a certain time and would like to talk with a representative of the school and see the school at the same time. If you do get an interview, be prepared with specific questions about the school and its programs.

Formats of interviews vary widely. Some schools employ a committee of several people who interview the candidate; some have a committee of one to three; and many will conduct two interviews in one day by two different people. The interview generally is designed so the committee of the dental school can get to know you. It is best to be as open about yourself as possible. The interviewers ask questions about financial status, non-school interests, career plans, how you became interested in dentistry, and if you have any questions that they could answer for you. They may even ask what other schools you are applying to and which is your first choice. Above all, they appear to be seeking insight into how well-defined your goals are, how well-motivated toward achieving these goals you are, and how great a commitment to the study of dentistry you have. When interviewing, remember this: the interviewers do not want to impose any hardships on you or trick you in any way; they usually simply want to get to know you.

Reciprocal Agreements

IDAHO DENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAM (IDEP) - The Creighton University School of Dentistry has initiated a special decentralized dental education program in Idaho. This program has space for seven Idaho residents each year. Basically, the program involves spending the first dental year in a special program at ISU. The student then transfers to the Creighton University School of Dentistry in Omaha for three years. Students accepted into this program will pay tuition which is reduced from that for a standard Creighton University dental student. A detailed description of the IDEA program appears at the end of the chapter.

The purpose of the Idaho Dental Education Program (IDEP) is to provide Idaho State residents with access to a high quality dental education. The program is a cooperative effort of Creighton University, School of Dentistry and Idaho State University, College of Health Professions. The program is fully accredited by the American Dental Association through Creighton University.

The program gives Idaho residents the opportunity to be considered for admission to Creighton's Dental School as if it were an Idaho state school. Each entering class has eight positions reserved exclusively for Idaho residents. Students participating in the program also receive a tuition reduction over the normal costs of attending Creighton for the entire course of instruction at ISU and Creighton. Additionally, the students in the program are provided with their first year of education at Idaho State University in Pocatello.

The faculty to student ratio (1:8) and the high quality of the faculty provide students with an unparalleled learning experience. Combined with the high caliber of instruction at Creighton, students will graduate with the finest dental education available.

The program's goal is to provide to the State of Idaho outstanding dental professionals, using our own residents. Graduates of the Idaho Dental Education Program will possess the ability to practice today's dentistry at its finest. Furthermore, they will have exceptional background to evaluate changes and future treatment modalities as they relate to individual patient care.

To participate in this program, students must:

  1. Meet the residency requirements of the State of Idaho and be accepted into the Idaho Dental Education Program.
  2. Be accepted for admission to Creighton University School of Dentistry.
  3. Attend the Idaho Dental Education Program at Idaho State University after acceptance.

Idaho Residency Requirements
Contact the ISU Admissions Office at (208) 282-4096 to receive an application for certification of residency. You may also request a residency affidavit for the health professional school you have chosen.

Application Procedure to the Creighton University School of Dentistry

The Creighton Dental School participates in the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). All new and reapplicants seeking admission must apply through this national dental application services agency.

The AADSAS application must be received by February 1. Early application is strongly encouraged, however, to give the Admissions Committees more time to evaluate the applicants.

At the time an applicant submits an application through AADSAS a nonrefundable application service fee should be sent directly to the admissions office of the Creighton University School of Dentistry. This fee should be made payable to Creighton University and mailed to the admissions office. All correspondence should be addressed to the admissions office of the School of Dentistry with whom all credentials must be filed. Direct credentials to the address listed at the end of the chapter. All credentials become the property of Creighton University upon submission and are not returnable.

The Health Sciences Admissions office of the School of Dentistry will inform the applicant when the application has been received from AADSAS and will request that the following additional information be submitted to complete the application:

  1. Official Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores.
  2. Academic recommendations
  3. Supplementary application form

Requirements for Admission
To meet the legal requirements of state licensing boards and to gain the necessary background for the study of dentistry, the following education requirements for admission to the Creighton University School of Dentistry must be fulfilled:

  1. Graduation from an accredited high school
  2. College credits covering a minimum of two years study in an accredited college of arts and sciences.

While a minimum of 64 semester hours (96 quarter hours) is required, most accepted candidates will have completed 120 semester hours (180 quarter hours). The minimum hours must be obtained exclusive of credit in military science, physical education, and non-academic courses. The minimum must include the following specific subjects and credits:

Biology, Lab required

 At least 6 semester hours

Chemistry, inorganic, Lab required

At least 8 semester hours

Chemistry, organic, Lab required

At least 6 semester hours


At least 6 semester hours


At least 6 semester hours

The hours listed are suggested as most nearly conforming to a year's work in most colleges. The governing principle shall be that the credit presented in each subject shall represent a full academic year's course in an accredited college. The required hours and subject must be completed by the end of the spring term preceding the fall in which the applicant wishes to enter dental school. The following electives are suggested for the remainder of the required minimum hours: English, modern language, mathematics, history, social science, philosophy, speech, economics, comparative anatomy, psychology, and computer utilization.

Admission to Creighton University under IDEP
It is the admission policy of Creighton University to accept qualified students within the limits of its resources and facilities. See also the nondiscrimination policy in the Creighton University Bulletin. The number of students eligible to be admitted to the IDEP program is limited to eight students. Students accepted by the Admissions Committee enter ISU only at the beginning of the school year for which they are accepted; registration is closed one week after instruction has started for the first semester.

Formal notification of acceptance to the Idaho Dental Education Program and Creighton University will be sent from the Creighton University Admissions office. An acceptance deposit and a final acceptance deposit will be required by Creighton University. These deposits will apply toward the fall semester registration fees at Idaho State University.

First Year Dental Curriculum
The basic science and dental science curriculum offered at Idaho State University has been certified by Creighton University as equivalent to the first-year dental curriculum offered at Creighton University. This curriculum has been approved by the American Dental Association.

Performance in the basic science courses will be evaluated on the basis of course objectives developed by the Creighton School of Dental Science and in accordance with the Idaho State University System. Performance in the clinical science courses will be evaluated according to policies and procedures of the Creighton University School of Dental Science.

Information, Application, and Financial Aid
Please address requests for further program details, detailed admission requirements, AADSAS applications and supplementary applications to:

Creighton University
School Of Dentistry
Dental Admissions
2500 California Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68178

or AADSAS applications you may also write:

1625 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20036-2212
or call 202-667-9433
or email at
or go to ADEA homepage on the web at

Creighton University has outlined their fees and financial aid in detail in their bulletin. For further information and application please contact:

Student Financial Aid Office
Creighton University
2500 California Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68178

Please address requests for more information to the IDEP program:


Additional Information
American Dental Education Association (ADEA)

American Dental Association (ADA)