Building Bridges


Building Bridges to a Career in Dentistry

Building Bridges participantsProviding opportunity to students from under-represented and disadvantaged communities to compete in the School of Dentistry

Historically, Minnesota has been one of the least diverse states in the nation. Recently, that profile has changed. The nonwhite population is projected to grow from 14 percent in 2005 to 25 percent in 2035. In addition, the state is currently home to a burgeoning immigrant population and has the largest communities of Somali, Hmong and Liberians in the U.S. Over half of the population growth in the state is minority and tends to be younger. These rapid changes have contributed to oral health care disparities and provide challenges to educate a more diverse healthcare workforce.

The school’s Building Bridges to a Career in Dentistry Program will provide students from underrepresented and disadvantaged communities with an opportunity to develop the skills needed to successfully compete, enter, and graduate from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. The goal is to begin early in the education process to develop a larger and more competitive applicant pool and, once admitted, to retain students preparing for dental careers.

Building Bridges programs

Summer Dental School studentsThe Summer Dental School Experience is a two-week, intensive program that provides participants with hands-on experiences in dentistry, exposure to prerequisite courses and Dental Admissions Test review, health disparities research experience, and workshops designed to enhance academic skills or to teach students more about dentistry. 

The 2016 program takes place July 11-22, 2016 and includes activities Monday through Friday. The application deadline is May 1, 2016

Apply to Summer Dental School

Apply to Summer Dental School

Application forms

Please send us your completed application and references one of the following ways:

Fax: 612-624-0882

School of Dentistry, Office of Admissions and Diversity
ATTN: Building Bridges
15-163 Moos Health Science Tower
515 Delaware Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Questions? Please contact:
Admissions and Diversity Staff: 612-625-7477

Program overview & structure

Program overview & structure

Up to 20 rising undergraduate juniors and seniors from disadvantaged backgrounds will participate in the Summer Program on the University of Minnesota campus. Please note that participants will not be receiving stipends this year. Participants are responsible for securing on or off-campus housing and other personal expenses while in program.

Each Summer Program session will feature about 7-8 hours of structured learning activities per day, plus a break for lunch. Components of the program include the following:

  • Review classes in the core curriculum and prepare for the DAT.
  • Seminars on health disparities and a project focusing on health disparities in Minnesota. Participants will learn more about a health disparity through literature reviews and in class-discussions. Students will present their experiences to dental students and faculty.
  • Hands-on experiences in dentistry to develop psychomotor skills.
  • Learn more about dental school admissions and gain first-hand knowledge of what dental school is like from current dental students.
  • Workshops to enhance test-taking skills.
  • Guest speakers to enhance student understanding of life during dental school, the admissions process, various dental specialties, and research opportunities available at the University of Minnesota.

Qualified participants

Qualified participants

  • Must be a rising undergraduate junior or senior in good academic standing
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and attend college in the U.S.
  • Strongest consideration will go to students from communities that are historically underrepresented: African Americans, Latinos, American Indians, and other minority groups; individuals from rural areas, first generation college students, and those who are economically disadvantaged. However, all students are welcome to apply
  • Will have a math or science professor or instructor (a teaching assistant in a laboratory course is acceptable) complete the reference form
  • Applications will be reviewed by the Project Director/Assistant Dean for Admissions and Diversity and other School of Dentistry Faculty and Staff
  • Priority goes to Minnesota residents and students who attend college in Minnesota

Our funders & partners

The Building Bridges program was launched September 2010. This Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) is funded by the Bureau of Health Professions, a component of the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To accomplish our goals with this program, the School of Dentistry is partnering with Minneapolis Public Schools to help recruit students participants to the project, and the Minnesota Urban Area Health Education Center, which will connect students with community-based opportunities.

Other partners include the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences and College of Liberal Arts. Each will recruit faculty and teaching assistants to teach courses in the structured programs and help tailor the curriculum to the students’ needs.