Admissions Criteria

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


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 Science coursework must include both lecture and lab instruction, and may be considered outdated if taken more than five years before the time of application.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.

Prospective and recently-admitted students:

You may explore how courses transfer to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities by using Transferology. If this is your first time using Transferology you will be asked to create a free account.

Find out how to use Transferology to determine how your completed or in-progress coursework will transfer. If you want to submit transfer courses that have not been evaluated in the past, visit the Undergraduate University of Minnesota Office of Admissions "Transfer Credit Evaluation" webpage.  

If you have questions, please contact the Office of Admissions and Diversity - School of Dentistry at 612-625-7477 or (for questions about the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program) or (for questions about the dual degree Dental Therapy program) or (for questions about the Dental Hygiene program).

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

The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry requires applicants to submit three (3) letters of recommendation. Two (2) letters must be from science or math faculty who have instructed you in a lecture or lab course. Letters from teaching assistants are also acceptable. The third (3rd) letter must be from an employer, or a supervisor from a volunteer or research position. Re-applicants must provide new letters of recommendation. They can be from the same recommenders, but must be new and different letters. Letters of recommendation can be sent by either of the following modes:

  • Letters may be included with your centralized Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) application. ADEA AADSAS allows each applicant to submit up to four letters of recommendation with their application.
  • Directly from the letter writer to the U of M School of Dentistry Office of Admissions and Diversity by mail or email.

                         University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
                         Office of Admissions and Diversity
                         15-163 Moos Tower
                         515 Delaware Street SE
                         Minneapolis, MN 55455

All three (3) letters of recommendation must be submitted before your application is fully reviewed.  

Job shadowing

The U of M School of Dentistry requires a minimum of 50 hours of shadowing in general dentistry. These hours must be completed no later than June 1 of the year you intend to begin the program.  Applicants are highly encouraged to complete more than 50 hours, shadow more than one dentist, and shadow in different practice settings.  Additional observation in specialty practice is welcome, however, it is recommended that at least half of your shadowing hours are dedicated to general dentistry. Required shadowing hours need to occur outside of a parent’s dental practice. 

Orientation to dentistry statement

Applicants must submit a written statement about their observation of and participation in patient care in a general dentistry practice. This statement should include what you learned and how those experiences influenced your decision to pursue a career in dentistry. Statements should not exceed 6000 characters without spaces.

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

For students entering fall 2019, the date of the oldest DAT for consideration for application is June 1, 2015. For students entering fall 2020, the date of the oldest DAT for consideration for application is June 1, 2016.

DAT scores must be received by the Office of Admissions and Diversity no later than December 1, 2018. 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, 2019. 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?