Admissions Criteria

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Ready to apply for the School of Dentistry? Here's a roundup of details on how to make your application complete and competitive.

DDS instructor with student

Prerequisites

All prerequisite courses need to be completed with a C or above by the spring semester for enrollment the following fall. Science coursework must include both lecture and lab instruction, and may be considered outdated if taken more than five years before the time of application.

  • English-8 semester credits. Two composition courses are preferred; or one composition course, and one additional course in either literature, humanities, or public speaking that is writing intensive.
  • General Biology or Zoology-8 semester credits. General zoology alone is acceptable, but not preferred.
  • Physics-8 semester credits. Complete basic course series required.
  • General Principles of Chemistry-8 semester credits. Complete basic course series required.
  • Organic Chemistry-8 semester credits. Course content must include study of both the aliphatic and aromatic series. One-semester courses generally do not have sufficient credits or depth to be acceptable.
  • Biochemistry-3 semester credits. The appropriate course will have the organic chemistry sequence as a prerequisite. Lab is not required.
  • Mathematics-A minimum of 3 semester credits of college algebra or a higher level course. Some examples include precalculus, calculus, or statistics.
  • Applied Human Psychology-3 semester credits in: general human psychology, child and adolescent human psychology, or business psychology.

It is also strongly suggested that applicants include strong science electives in their curriculum. Competitive applicants will take a combination of the following preferred electives: art (3-D drawing or sculpture), cell biology, histology, human anatomy, microbiology, physiology, genetics, immunology and statistics.

Applicant requirements

Official transcripts

Upon acceptance and prior to matriculation, official transcripts must be sent directly to the School of Dentistry from each undergraduate and graduate institution attended, and must verify sufficient credits and correct courses. Basic science coursework that is older than five years may be considered obsolete.

Course credits

A minimum of 87 semester credits or 130 quarter credits of courses from an officially accredited U.S. or Canadian college or university is required. A maximum of 64 semester credits from community or junior colleges will be applied to the 87 semester credits. (One semester credit is equivalent to 1.5 quarter credits.) While acceptance is based primarily on performance quality, applicants are encouraged to have a broad liberal education.

  • The average entering GPAs for the 2015 entering class are: overall - 3.55, science - 3.47 BCP (biology, chemistry, physics) - 3.47
  • AADSAS reports three different GPAs to the schools: the overall GPA (which includes original grades for any repeated courses); the science GPA (which also includes grades for math courses); and the BCP GPA (which is a calculation of an average for all biology, chemistry and physics courses). At the University of Minnesota, we look at all three of these GPAs. 
  • GPA (overall and science) is viewed in terms of consistency and improvement. But the quality of coursework and challenge per term are also considered. Applicants are required to provide written documentation of academic difficulties (e.g., “I,” “W,” “D” and “F” grades).

Satisfactory/No Credit, Incomplete and Withdrawal Grades

Only under unusual circumstances will credits graded on a satisfactory/no credit evaluation system be accepted for required courses. Applicants may submit a maximum of the following percentage of "S" credits in elective courses: 10 percent of the minimum total credits for 3-year students, and 15 percent of the minimum total credits for 4-year students. Incomplete grades are looked upon with disfavor by the Admissions Committee. Any incomplete and withdrawal grades must be explained in the application.

Letters of recommendation

Students must submit to the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) three letters of recommendation. The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry requires two letters of recommendation from science or math faculty and the third from an employer/supervisor.

Individuals reapplying to the School of Dentistry must provide three new letters of recommendations. They can be from the same recommenders but must be new and different letters.

Job shadowing

A minimum of 50 hours of shadowing in general dentistry must be completed by spring semester for enrollment the following fall. Shadowing more than one dentist and gaining exposure to different practice settings is highly recommended. Completing additional shadowing hours beyond the minimum 50 hour requirement is encouraged.

Orientation to dentistry statement

Applicants must submit a written statement documenting their observation of and participation in patient care in a general dentistry practice. Additional observation experience in a specialty practice is also welcome. A minimum of 50 hours of observation in general dentistry is required. Practice observation should occur outside of a parent’s dental practice.

Personal statement

As part of the AADSAS application, all D.D.S. applicants must submit an essay describing their interest in dentistry as well as other interests and special achievements. The U of M Health Careers Center offers workshops on interviewing skills and writing personal statements that may be very helpful to you as a DDS applicant. 

Dental Admission Test

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is administered by computer and is available for testing on just about any business day. Students must register by mail or online. Upon receiving confirmation that their registration fee and application have been received, the candidate will be instructed to call the Prometric Testing Center to set up a testing time.

The DAT is scored on a 1-30 basis and tests knowledge in biology, general and organic chemistry, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, and perceptual ability. Students should consider taking this exam when they have completed basic course requirements in biology, general and organic chemistry, and math.

While we expect that competitive applicants will score at or above the national average of 18-19, students accepted to the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry usually score higher. Students should refer to the information supplied with their official score report to determine the average scores nationally.

If applicants do not achieve desired scores on their first test, they may take the DAT again after a 90-day waiting period. We will look at all sets of scores and we look for general improvement across all test areas. Official score reports sent to the school by the American Dental Association (ADA) will show up to four sets of scores.

Deadlines for DAT

DAT scores must be received by the Office of Admissions and Diversity no later than December 1, 2016. If it becomes necessary to retake the DAT, new scores must be received by the Office of Admissions and Diversity no later than January 1, 2017. Applicants must keep in mind that they will not be allowed to register for a subsequent test date for 90 days after the last exam date. These deadlines also apply to those taking the Canadian DAT so please be aware of this when you sign up for a February or November examination.

Applicants to the University of Minnesota should not delay submitting their AADSAS application until they receive DAT results. This can jeopardize their chance for admission. Rather, applicants should submit the AADSAS application with a projected test date (before December 1) - or a projected retest date. Then, applicants should follow up to be sure that official score reports have been received after the exam has been taken.

How to stand out as an applicant

Below are some additional tips to help improve your chances as a D.D.S. applicant. See a sample Pre-Dental Student Timeline for more information.

Reapplying? To learn more about making your application more competitive, view the presentation Preparing for a Re-Application.

Start preparing in high school

High school credentials are not examined as part of the admission evaluation, but students anticipating dental careers should take a sound academic program in high school to prepare properly for the pre-dental and dental programs. 

Gain real-world experience

Individuals considering dental careers are expected to gain information about dentistry through discussions with professionals in the field and through observation of, or participation in, patient care and lab procedures in dental offices, labs and clinics.

Take diverse courses

The School of Dentistry prefers that all students distribute some part of their pre-dental college coursework in areas of study other than those related to the biological and physical sciences, while satisfying the University's liberal education requirements. 

Become service-oriented

Competitive applicants typically have multiple volunteer experiences which take place over a length of time. Volunteer experiences within the health care community are highly recommended, such as involvement as a chair-side dental assistant, hospital orderly, nurse’s aide, etc.

Practice for your interview

It is highly recommended that applicants practice their interviewing skills prior to their professional interview at the School of Dentistry. For instance, many college career counseling offices offer mock interview services that can be a great help to applicants.

Contribute to the program

Applicants will be asked how they will contribute to the School of Dentistry and to the overall profession. How will your involvement make a positive impact?