Our Mission & History

Continuing a Rich History

The History of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry reaches back to 1888, when a class of 22 students started their dental education. The School of Dentistry now trains about 73 percent of Minnesota's dentists and a majority of those in neighboring states.

Twenty-two students and four faculty members composed the University of Minnesota College of Dentistry when it began in 1888 as a division of the Department of Medicine. The college became the School of Dentistry in 1932.

Early students used a dental handpiece driven by a foot pedal and made some of their own laboratory and clinical instruments in class.

By the 1938-39 academic year, the original three-year program of study had been lengthened to four years, preceded by two years of prescribed undergraduate courses. In 1976, the prerequisites were changed to include three years of undergraduate coursework.

A two-year dental hygiene program was added in 1920. A year of prerequisite coursework was added in 1990. A baccalaureate degree program was established in 1990.

A dental graduate degree program began in 1937; from 1957 to 1993, several programs were developed to give dental graduates the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. in various disciplines.

School of Dentistry Objectives

  • The School of Dentistry recruits, matriculates and retains quality, diverse students to all educational programs.
  • The School of Dentistry presents quality educational programs incorporating new and appropriate knowledge, technology and skills. These programs ensure student learning resulting in graduates competent in their respective fields. The goal of the predoctoral dental program is to prepare graduates who possess the knowledge, skills and values to begin the practice of general dentistry.
  • The School of Dentistry devotes time and resources to the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge.
  • The School of Dentistry serves as a source of continuing education to the dental profession and a resource to the local and global communities.
  • The School of Dentistry reviews its strategic direction, consistent with those of the University of Minnesota, on a systematic and ongoing basis including regular assessment of its strategic progress.
  • The School of Dentistry provides quality, patient centered, oral health care within its clinics and its community.
  • The School of Dentistry supports faculty, staff and students with a congenial, well-functioning and pleasant working environment.
  • The School of Dentistry is fiscally responsible.
  • The School of Dentistry provides for faculty development through mentoring in teaching, research and service.


The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry advances health through scientific discovery, innovative education, and the highest-quality care for all communities.


The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry leads the profession into the future of comprehensive healthcare.

Core Values

  • Diversity
  • Excellence
  • Integrity
  • Leadership
  • Pursuit of Knowledge
  • Respect
  • Service to All Communities