Frequently Asked Questions (January, 2015)
If you read all of these FAQs, you will know quite well what the UMN PASS program is all about.
1. Why are you changing the application form? I have already filled out an application and I used the form from last year. I just changed the year designation on the front page. Do I have to do it over?
There are updates in the 2016 application form that are not included in the older forms. We will not accept applications using previous years' forms.
2. Why is University of Minnesota School of Dentistry not participating in ADEA's centralized application service for internationally trained dentists called CAAPID?
Most of our applicants have expressed their appreciation of the freedom in a simple and less expensive application process. At the present time, we are not part of CAAPID.
3. Why should we submit E.C.E. evaluations of our transcripts? I have already had my transcripts evaluated by another service.
We need to have a standardized process for admissions purposes, and for future school accreditations. The evaluation services look at transcripts differently. Same transcript evaluated by different services may have different outcomes.
4. Why do you not accept E.C.E. evaluations, board and TOEFL scores submitted directly by the services?
This is to ensure that we have all the requested documents with your application. This is in your best interest. Numerous evaluations have in the past reached us much later than the applications, or are occasionally delivered to the wrong address, or may not reach us at all. Incompletes applications cannot be reviewed. Our decision to invite an applicant for an interview is based on all material in one submission. Thus you cannot resubmit a score if you retake a test or if you reevaluate your credentials.
If you are called for an interview you must bring the original documentation (TOEFL, ADA NDB PI, ECE GPA calculation, transcripts, diploma, etc).
5. Is it true what I have heard that you only look at the scores and not read all transcripts and other submitted material?
Every application is carefully read and evaluated on its own merits. Every marksheet and transcript is evaluated by the director (see below for High School scores FAQ #9).
No school in my country issues "mark-sheets". What do I do now?
We know that many dental schools do not have official marksheets. However, most schools in South Asia (e.g. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal) keep available marksheets. Transcripts may be requested from any dental school world-wide.
6. Why do you have us write the email address twice, and why do you tell us to write clearly? I always write clearly.
These requests are in your best interest, since we have had many applications where both mailing and email addresses were illegible thus causing time-consuming guesswork to reach you.
7. Why do you have to tell us what point size we should use for our personal statement? Aren't you going a little bit too far in your requests?
This is also in your best interest. The statements should be concise and not be much longer than one page. Ideally, the statement should be only one page. Personal statements that are substantially longer will not be fully read. The statements are part of the evaluation. Because of this all applicants should follow the same guidelines. It could otherwise be unfair. Your personal statement gives us information about you, in addition to what is in the application form and in the Curriculum Vitae or Resume. Do not repeat information. Your personal statement needs to be accurate, brief, and concise.
8. I would guess that all applicants are trying to do their very best with the application. So why all of these rules?
Anybody can make a mistake and if we ask for some important information twice you may catch it yourself. That is also why we have included the check-off sheet. It is very easy to forget one little detail. We are only trying to make changes that will help you and be in your best interest, not to make it more difficult.
9. Will my chances get better if I submit my High School scores?
We will not look at High School scores even if you submit them.
10. What is an interview like? I know of schools that do not have interviews, so why do you want us to spend money on travel and housing?
Over many years we have learned that an interview is essential both for the candidate and for the school. The interview is not just for us but also for you. You will get a chance to see what our school is like and what the program is all about. We try to make the interview-day worth your time and money whether you will get accepted or not.
The interview is an all day event. All interviewees are meeting with the program staff for a small breakfast and a short briefing about the day's program. The director will give a presentation on the program, the school, and the University. This is followed by a short break and then the candidates meet with their interviewers. Each candidate will meet with the director and two faculty members. Around noontime, a Junior or Senior student will take you on a 30-minute tour of the school. You will have the opportunity to ask the student guide any questions you like. Lunch is served in the conference room. This is your time to talk and none of us will disturb you. Occasionally, your guide or another 4-year student may join you. You will be asked to submit your choice of lunch sandwich in advance based on your dietary preferences. After lunch we will have the 30-40 minutes skills assessment (FAQ #52). Janet and the director are usually around all day to answer any specific questions.
The day starts at 8:00 in the morning and ends between 3 and 3:30 p.m. At that time of the day, it might take about one hour to get to the airport.
11. I sat for/took the NDB I more than five years ago. Do I need to retake that examination?
As of January 2010 it is not possible to retake the National Dental Boards if you have received a passing grade in an earlier test. Also the grade is only Pass or Fail. The use of a numerical grade has been dropped.
Because of this situation we will accept NDB Part I scores that are up to 10 years old.
12. What is the school's TOEFL institution code?
You can find the code number on the website in the application criteria section. The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry's TOEFL Institution Code is 6874. The Department code or Profession code is 38 for dentistry. All applicants need to submit a TOEFL score.
13. I have left a phone message and nobody is returning my call. Why is that?
Before you call us with a question, you should study our website. The answers to most of your questions are on the website. Also, we encourage all applicants or those who only want some further information to use e-mail. Someone will get back to you usually within 48 hours. During holidays and weekends, it may take another 24-48 hours before we can get to your e-mail and send an answer.
If you have left a phone message your call may not have been returned for several reasons. It is sometimes very difficult to hear the messages and/or understand it. Your name and your phone number are often unclear. Hence we cannot return your call. Therefore, speak slowly and clearly repeating your name and phone number twice.
14. What scores for NDB Part I and TOEFL do I need to have to be considered for an interview?
Since 2012 a numerical score for NDB Part I is not reported. We will only see a grade of "pass". Since last application cycle, we only note that the Board exam has been taken with a grade of Pass.
The TOEFL iBT test (Internet based test with a spoken language section) is mandatory. You will need to have a minimal total score on the iBT test of 94, and a score of 20 and above in each of the four sections. Please remember that your application will NOT be reviewed if your score is below 94 and/or 20 in any subsection.
Why are you so strict with the TOEFL score?
An article from 2008 in the Journal of Dental Education by Lisa E. Itaya, David W. Chambers, and Patricia A. King presented results of a study that one of the more predictive admissions criteria for success is the TOEFL score or language skills (Analyzing the Influence of Admissions Criteria and Cultural Norms on Success in an International Dental Studies Program J Dent Educ. 2008 72: 317-328). This confirms our strict language requirement. The better your English communication skills are, the better your chances to do well are.
15. I will be in Minneapolis next week. Can I meet with you and discuss the program?
In fairness to all applicants, we do not meet with any future candidates until they may get an interview. The director will not meet with you for what we call a "pre-interview" even if you happen to be visiting the school. However you may visit the university campus but you will not be allowed to enter any of the clinical areas. This has to do with HIPAA regulations (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
16. I have specialty training in my home country. Will that increase my chances?
It does not automatically increase your chances. But any further education may be valuable for your ranking.
17. I have specialty training from the US. Will that increase my chances?
Yes, it might increase your chances.
18. Are Letters of Recommendation needed?
We do not request Letters of Recommendation.
19. Is it only scores that count towards an acceptance?
TOEFL scores, previous grades (and calculated GPA), your personal statement, and experiences in your new country and home country are the most important in the initial review before an interview is granted. We are not paying any attention to the NDB PI score since it is only reported as a "Pass". The interview is very important and it is mandatory to present yourself for an interview if invited. We have included a Skills Assessment on the interview day (see FAQ #52). Remember that you must bring all original documents to the interview.
20. Do you have a bench test on the interview day?
We do not request a traditional bench test. We have for many reasons included a skills assessment (FAQ #52).
21. I submitted my application a while ago and I have not heard from you. What do I do now?
We have many applications and it takes some time for the committee to review them. We try to review the applications as soon as we can and make decisions on interviews. Applications received in January of 2015 will be reviewed and discussed by the committee as soon as possible. Interviews may start as early as February, 2015. Please allow about 6-8 weeks for a response to your application. Please see the application form and/or the website for the application deadline.
22. Do you have a rolling enrollment or do you wait until all interviews are completed and then make your decisions?
We use a combination of both these processes. That means that some individuals may be offered a position earlier than others. We will not fill all positions before the end of the application period and not until after the last interview. We do not fill the class until all eligible candidates have been interviewed.
Does this mean that if I am in an early interview group and I am not offered admissions my chances are gone?
No, your chances are not gone. Applicants that are not among the earlier admitted students will still be on the list of possible students.
23. What will the cost be?
This is a short question but demands a much longer answer. All financial information that is available will be given during the interview day. However, the cost is about the same as that of similar programs across the country.
There are some details to consider. Schools report the cost in several different ways. This is because the cost is divided in tuition, school fees, university fees, and health insurance. In addition there are costs for books, transportation and living expenses.
A state school is also dependent on the legislators' budget allocation to its universities. This will have an impact on how much a university might increase the cost. We do not get this information until rather late and the University fees are not always decided until quite late.
A common way of reporting the cost is tuition plus "kit". A "kit" is rarely, if ever, defined but usually includes instrument rental, or purchase. It is very difficult to compare the education cost between schools unless all current expenses are listed.
Health insurance is mandatory but can be waived, if a spouse or parent has insurance that covers the student. Living cost is an individual choice that will depend on area and size of living quarters. We realize that the cost could be prohibitive. We are doing our best to have minimal or no tuition increases.
24. If I have been accepted at another school but prefer the University of Minnesota but I have not heard from you, what do I do?
In that special situation, we suggest that you e-mail or call us and we will give you the information we have regarding your status.
What do I do if the answer is that there is no decision yet?
We always say: “Do not gamble with your future”. If you are one of the lucky ones to get accepted in another program, I would not count on something that has not yet been decided.
25. My spouse is also a dentist and is applying for your program and we want to go to the same school. Can we both be accepted the same year?
A spouse will not automatically be accepted if the other is accepted. It is a competitive program and each person will be evaluated on his/her own merits.
26. Does the University of Minnesota offer any scholarships for PASS students?
The University of Minnesota does not have any scholarships for PASS students.
27. Can I get student loans for the PASS program?
Yes, but only if you are eligible for federal student loans. You can as soon as you are accepted to the program.
If you are accepted, you will pay a partial spring semester tuition down payment in advance to secure your seat. These may be done in three installment payments. Applicants accepted in the latter part of the process will have shorter time for these payments. It is important for you to know that the early downpayment can only be made with personal finances. Student/private loans CANNOT be used for these payments. Eligible students can apply for loans once they have been accepted to the program. Your downpayment is credited to your student account, with your loan payment. At that point, a refund will be issued to you. If you decide to accept another school's offer, the down payment will not be returned.
28. Why do I have to pay this money before the classes start?
We request a down payment to hold your seat. If a student drops out late in the process, we may not be able to replace that student. If we cannot replace someone who withdraws late in the process, we may face a financial deficit. That is why you have to submit parts of the first semesters cost before classes start.
29. I was not invited for an interview. I think I deserved one. Please tell me the reasons why I was rejected to help me prepare for the future.
Unique education opportunities attract many, applicants. We regret that we cannot possibly interview each and every applicant. We focus our interviews on the strongest candidates and we base that decision on our review of the submitted applications. We look closely at each and every application and consider a combination of factors, including GPA, TOEFL scores; personal statements; and applicants' personal and professional experience. This thorough procedure allows for an effective admission process. We are keeping down travel and housing expenses for candidates that we deem non-competitive at this time. It is the profile of the total applicant pool that determines an individual application's competitiveness.
We do realize that this can be disappointing and a hardship. Experience tells us, however, that each year brings new opportunities. You can increase your chances in the future by taking a critical look at your application and start working to strengthen it. Generally speaking, higher test scores increase an application's competitiveness. At this time you can only increase your TOEFL score. Our program's policy is that we do not discuss specific reasons why an individual candidate was not invited for an interview, or was not accepted after an interview. Our criteria and a description of the process are listed on the website and on this page of FAQ's.
I got a letter saying, "At this time I was not selected for an interview but my application would still be under consideration." What does this mean?
It really means that your application was not fully competitive at that point in the process but it was very close. There are always competitive applicants who either decline an interview or who do not advance to further consideration. There are also those who will withdraw after being offered acceptance. Under those circumstances your application may move into the group that will be called for an interview.
However, once we send out a decline letter that application is closed for the year.
If I am in this group and I have not been offered an interview, but I have not gotten a decline letter either, can I retake some exams and submit new scores before the application deadline?
We will not revaluate an application. We base our scoring and evaluation on the first application we receive. So the answer is no, we will not revaluate an application. That would not be fair to other applicants. Our time would not permit a process like that.
30. I have already submitted my application. When will I hear from you?
We will acknowledge receipt of the application via email within 48 - 72 hours excluding weekends and holidays. Applications for the class starting 2016 are accepted as of January 15, 2015 through June 15, 2015. The first interviews may be held as early as February, 2015. If you will be invited for an interview, we will, whenever possible, inform you at least two weeks before the interview. Interview information will be sent via e-mail.
31. You ask us to put our name on the check/money order. Why do you need that?
For accounting purposes, it is beneficial to have the applicant's name on the money order or cashier's check.
32. Is it an advantage to submit my application early?
It is always a good idea to submit your application early. We advise all applicants with a visa status (H-4 status is not included) to apply as early as possible. Since you know how we handle the applications and admissions process, it is clear that it is better to submit earlier than later. However, if you are taking or retaking an exam you should wait until your application is complete.
33. I hear that you have a waiting list after interviews and admissions have been completed. Does it ever happen that anybody from the waiting list gets accepted?
One might think that if you are accepted, you will never give up your seat. However, life situations change. Since there are more programs available today then 10 years ago many students will change their minds during the acceptance process when other options become available. (FAQ #28).
34. Why do you ask all these questions about work and working permit?
Over the years we have had several applicants that have worked illegally in the US, even practiced dentistry without a license and on an expired visa. Each visa has its limitations and regulations. If a candidate appears for an interview and is in violation of the applicable visa regulations, we all are put in a very precarious situation.
35. Do I need to be a US citizen or be a permanent resident (Green Card holder) to apply to your PASS program?
No, you do not need to have any special visa status or citizenship. Every year we have applicants with various visa situations.
36. If I am currently on an F-1/H-1 visa and studying/working in the US, is there something I should be aware of?
It takes time to process a change of visa status, or transfer of a visa (F-1) from one school to another. Thus you should apply as early as possible to give yourself maximum time for the admissions process. If you are accepted, visa requests and/or a change of status or school usually takes time. In some situations you may have to return to your home country and request an interview at the embassy and then apply for a student visa. (FAQ# 32).
I am on a J-1 visa. Does the same apply for me?
Yes, it certainly does. However, there might be other visa stipulations with the J-1 visa that might make the situation difficult. Please check with your employer and/or the state department.
37. I am currently studying for a Master's degree at a US college. My program does not end until mid-May, 2016. Can I still get accepted?
The most important time is in the beginning of the program and that cannot be missed. Also, if you have started another program it is a good idea to finish it. A degree will always be more valuable than leaving a program without finishing it.
38. Do I have any advantage as a re-applicant?
No, you do not. We strongly urge you to take a good look at your application if you were not called for an interview, or if you did not receive an acceptance after being interviewed. You should look at your application as if you were on the admissions committee for a competitive program and you had to make the often very hard decisions. We strongly urge you to improve your application and that can be done in many ways. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why is my application (and/or interview) not competitive?
- Could my TOEFL score be better?
- Did I fully understand the interviewer?
- Did I answer the interviewer's questions, or did I just say what I had prepared to say?
- What have I done since I came to the US?
- What will make me stand out above the others?
- Does my personal statement describe my unique traits or does it make me look like all other applicants?
- What can I do to make my application look neater and better?
- Do I have additional credentials since my last application?
It is important that an application looks neat and is well prepared. Your application is a reflection of you, the applicant, for a profession where neatness and details are important. Do not submit an application where your handwriting is not clearly readable. Type the application or print neatly. Follow the instructions. There are a few things you should not do: Do not call us or email us and request that we re-evaluate your application, do not call any of the interviewers and tell them that you are much better than they thought. Finally, do not request reasons and explanations for why you were not interviewed/accepted. Our policy is that we will not do this for anyone. Also, we will not preview any applications or CVs. And do not just show up to argue your case.
39. I have just suggested including you and others at your school in Linked In or in a "Twitter" group. Wasn't that a good idea?
No. That is not a good idea. It is inappropriate and not appreciated. Be sure to remove our email addresses, if you submit several addresses to any Internet service of this nature (Social Networking sites).
40. I have noticed that you use both "semesters" and "sessions". Why is that?
Our curriculum and academic periods do not stretch across the traditional health institutions' two-semester boundaries. We use the word sessions sometimes synonymously with semester. We have three semesters, Summer, Fall, and Spring. However, you will still have traditional vacation breaks in late summer and at the end of the year.
41. If my application is incomplete will you notify me?
We will do our best to notify you but your application will not advance until it is complete. We request all documentation in one package. We have included a check-off sheet at the end of the application material to make it easier. This is for you to use so you are assured that you have included everything. We will not return incomplete applications. Never submit original documents. They may disappear in the mail or get buried in an archive box. We neither request any originals nor any notarized copies. However if you get an interview you must bring all original documents for verification. Finally we will try to inform you if something is missing but it is not a guarantee. Check your submission more than once before you seal the envelope.
42. Is there anything in particular that is most often missing?
Yes. We need both sides of the TOEFL form. The backside is often missing. Certificates of internships are also often missing. Some countries with a 4-year dental education have a mandatory twelve month internship before a final diploma will be granted. Other countries will grant a diploma even if an internship has not been completed. Applicants with a 4-year education need to show proof of completion of a twelve month internship, government service, or a GPR after graduation. Please see admissions criteria. A year's private practice is not accepted. NOTE: We do not accept provisional diplomas.
43. I did not get accepted last year and I want to reapply. Do I need to submit all documentations again?
You only have to submit current year's application form, any additional or new documents that you have not already submitted such as new scores, additional work experience etc., and the application fee. However, if you first applied more than one year ago, you need to submit a complete package of application material. We archive all applications after 2 years counting from the beginning of the application period.
44. I submitted my application yesterday by FedEx and I have no heard from you yet, should I call you or email you to make sure you got it?
No. We will email you no longer than 72 hours after we received your application, excluding weekends and holidays. If you have not heard from us after 3-4 days, you should contact us. Also, you have a tracking number so you can look up on the Internet exactly when it was delivered to our office. Always use the address we have listed in the application material.
45. Why is dental education so expensive in the U. S.?
Dental education is the most costly education all over the world. Education is costly in the U.S. but it leads to a most rewarding career.
46. Why do the tuition and fees increase every year?
The University is not fully responsible for those increases. As a state University, we are dependent on the State of Minnesota's allocations. The state legislators decide on the education budget for the state. Almost all Universities across the country have had to adjust their expenses and incomes to balance the budget. This is why we have to raise the tuition. We also have to tighten "our own belt" quite a bit. The most important is that the education does not suffer. The University President and our Dean have both made this very clear. We realize that the cost could be prohibitive. We are doing our best to have minimal or no tuition increases.
47. I have studied in the US for more than 3 years and I have spoken English the whole time. I also "passed" the TOEFL examination before I started my studies. Do I really have to take the TOEFL iBT examination?
Yes you do. All applicants will need to submit a TOEFL score.
48. What does "matriculate" mean?
The word "matriculate" may mean different things in different parts of the world. Matriculation/matriculated is used in this application indicating, "when you enrolled, or started your studies".
49. Why do you request a minimum of credit hours, and then, in addition, an internship? What are your requirements if my E.C.E. evaluation has credit hours of 122.5?
We have realized that an education of low credit hours does not give the basic foundation to do well when you go back to school in the US. Most schools with higher credit hours also request a mandatory, rotational internship or houseman-ship before a graduation diploma is granted. This elevates your knowledge base and your skills, but it is in e.g. India part of the pre-doctoral studies. However, some dental schools do not request an internship. On the other hand in some parts of the world, a new graduate must work for the government for at least one year. This type of work is acceptable in lieu of a mandatory internship. A GPR is also acceptable additional education. Private practice is not. For applicants with E.C.E. credit hours of 122.5 to 125, you must also submit NDB Part II, with a twelve month Certificate of Internship.
Applicants with E.C.E. credit hours 126 and above, do not need to submit NDB Part II. The twelve month internship is required.
For those requiring an internship, it must be a 12-month internship.
50. Why do you ask for hours worked or observing? Previously you asked for days.
Most applicants fill out the form correctly but we did not know if it was one hour per day or 8 hours per day. That is a big difference. We thought it was most fair to ask all applicants for hours per week instead of days per week of work or observing. Also make sure to give accurate beginning dates and ending dates. We use the more internationally accepted way of recording dates as in date/month/year. Do not overstate your activities. We do sum up your activities per week, if you work/volunteer at more than one place. It is a bit strange when we find that an applicant says s/he has volunteered over 100 hours per week.
51. Why do you have a form requesting information about our ethnicity or race?
This information is voluntary. However, the US Government requests that all education applications have this form included. We have to include it, but you do not have to answer it.
52. Skills Assessment. Why have you included it and what is it? I think it is just another word for bench test.
Skills assessment is NOT the same as a "bench" test. It is a short assessment on our advanced simulators of some basic psychomotor skills needed in dentistry.
Why have we included this? As you know the importance of the NDB PI has diminished when the numerical grades were replaced with a “Pass or Fail” system. Your GPA has less value since schools across the world may judge students very differently.
Also, the transfer of grades into the GPA structure used in the United States may not always be indicative of knowledge and skills. We believe that we need some additional parameters in our evaluation of your knowledge and skills for the sake of fairness.
So, what is the skills assessment procedure? During the interview day, the candidates will visit our Advanced Simulation Clinic (ASC, DentSim) for less than an hour. We will ask you to prepare an outline shape on tooth #19 (or #3-6) using a tapered fissure bur. Note that we will not ask you to cut a specific preparation. You will be given an instruction session and demonstration on the simulation unit. You can ask as many questions you like. We will let you practice for about 10 minutes on the assessment project. After this, we change to a new tooth and reset the simulator. During the next 10 minutes you will work on preparing the same preparation a second time. While you work, you can stop and evaluate your progress. If you are happy with your performance, you may stop before the 10 minutes are up. That is all there is to it.
What will we assess? We will look at how you sit, how you hold the hand piece, if you know the correct tooth, and if you understood and could follow the instructions. The simulator will give a score indicating how close you came to the ideal shape and form of the rectangle. The importance of this assessment is less than that of the TOEFL score. And, I repeat this is NOT a bench test.
53. Why should I apply to UMN PASS? Are you any good?
Most dental schools in United States and Canada have a very similar education. All dental schools in the US must go through an accreditation process by ADA CODA (American Dental Association, Commission on Dental Accreditation). This process takes place every seventh year. All schools must pass this evaluation, which is very detailed. Besides this minimal standard in dental education, schools offer variations and much more. University of Minnesota has the country's most modern Advanced Simulation Clinic (ASC) for example. At SOD UMN all students must take part in our Outreach Program, which is very popular. Like many other schools, we offer a solid education in Implantology. And we are the only school in the country that offers its students the option to sit for the Canadian Licensing Board Examination for those who want to practice in Minnesota or in Canada. This exam is given right here at the school in Minneapolis. Our students are very active in organized dentistry and PASS students are encouraged to get involved. University of Minnesota School of Dentistry is also focusing on interprofessional education and team building. In our group practices, students enrolled in the DDS / dental hygiene / dental therapy programs are working together in team learning. They are all members of the future Dental Team. We offer the ultimate team education in oral health.
What do some of our current fourth year PASS students think about us? They have told us that they like many things about our school but they like in particular that it is a smaller program, the great clinical education we offer, the outreach program, and that there are never any chair issues.
The University of Minnesota is one of the largest universities in the US that offers its students fabulous choices of activities. The School of Dentistry is located right in the building complex that makes up the center of the health sciences. Tunnels connect most buildings on Campus.
54. Is Minneapolis St. Paul (Twin Cities) a nice area?
It is probably one of the most livable metropolitan areas in the United States. Greater Minneapolis has about 3 million people and is the 16th largest metro area in the US. It has numerous colleges and universities, art, restaurants, and culture. It is rich in recreation and entertainment, with parks, lakes, and trails for walking, biking, and skiing in wintertime. It has national teams in all big US sports. Minneapolis has a fabulous concert hall in the downtown area where you also find other music halls, entertainment, art museums, theaters and excellent dining. In downtown Minneapolis and in St. Paul, stores, restaurants, museums, shopping malls, department stores, movie theaters, and the concert hall are connected via skywalks. You can get to almost everything the cities offer. The Twin Cities is a diverse community with home to the largest Somali and Hmong populations in the US. There are significant and growing populations of American Indians, Chicano/Latinos, East and West Africans, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Chinese, and Indians. It is a vibrant city ranked as one of the nation's most desirable places to live.