Now is an excellent time to go to dental school. After all, the field of dentistry is growing as the public continues to better understand the links between oral health and overall wellness. For example, periodontal diseases can even be associated with other chronic health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, so people are placing a greater emphasis on their oral health routines.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for dentists will increase about 3% in the coming decade as the population ages and Baby Boomers need more health care services. Given this potential demand, students should pick the best dental school to help them reach their personal career goals.
However, getting accepted into dental school is not easy, and the top programs are very competitive. Therefore, students should research a school’s admissions policies before applying to ensure their academic background matches the school’s expectations.
In general, most dental programs expect applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree with undergraduate science courses in anatomy, biology, microbiology, chemistry, and sometimes physics, too.
Believe it or not, there is only one dental school in all of Maryland. Today, we examine this particular school, how to get accepted, and more.
University of Maryland School of Dentistry (Baltimore, MD)
The University of Maryland School of Dentistry, abbreviated as UMSOD, is known for being the first dental college in the world. It began as the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1840 as the first provider of dental education based in science. And since its founding, UMSOD has become one of the nation’s leading dental schools for its outstanding curriculum, faculty, and research efforts.
One publication, Higher Learning Today, puts UMSOD among the top dental schools for 2021. Similarly, Dental-Colleges.com rates the school as the #18 dental program in the United States. What’s more, the Student Doctor Network ranked UMSOD as the #4 dental school, tying with the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and other prestigious dental programs.
UMSOD is also Maryland’s biggest oral health service provider. Consequently, students have many opportunities to work with the community through partnerships with area hospitals and dental clinics. Plus, the school increases community access to oral health care through services to groups like the Maryland Special Olympics and local missions.
Moreover, in addition to completing 5,000 hours of required hands-on training, most UMSOD dental students also donate an average of 7,500 hours of service to the school’s community partners.
Students at UMSOD can choose from several bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, depending on their overall career aspirations. Existing programs include dental and dental hygiene education to endodontics, oral pathology and surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, and more.
Plus, the school also started a new program in 2020. Referred to as the Clinical Dental Hygiene Leader track, this dual-degree program allows students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in just two years. The innovative curriculum is designed for applicants with another academic degree and background in the sciences and want to transition to dental care specifically.
The School of Dentistry was also ranked as the 3rd highest recipient of funding from the National Institute of Health in 2020. Students and faculty alike maintain aggressive research agendas that are making major breakthroughs in the dental sciences. Current research projects involve the study of pain and neuroscience, infectious diseases, biomaterials, and bone biology.
UMSOD faculty member Dr. Janette Harro currently receives national attention for an experimental staph vaccine, as staph infections acquired after surgical procedures can have severe consequences. Likewise, several faculty collaborated on contributions to a new textbook on peri-implant diseases anticipated to become a leading source of the latest knowledge on these conditions.
In addition, students can opt to participate in summer research training programs that give them the chance to work along with faculty members and gain direct, hands-on experience in biomedical research. Or, students can become involved with the UMSOD Student Research Group, which not only promotes graduate student research but also provides programs related to professional development.
UMSOD students benefit from studying in some of the most technologically advanced facilities in the country. In 2006, the school opened its new building, a 12-story facility located in downtown Baltimore. With a cost of $140 million, the building was the most expensive structure constructed in the University of Maryland system at the time.
In addition to facilities with the latest high-tech improvements, the UMSOD campus also houses the National Museum of Dentistry. This unique resource includes more than 40,000 archived objects that document the history and development of the dental profession; it is considered to be the country’s premier collection for researching dental history.
The best schools often graduate the most active alumni, as illustrated by UMSOD’s committed group of alumni who continue to serve the school’s educational mission. For example, the Dean’s Faculty program includes a group of alumni and retired practitioners who volunteer their knowledge and experience to the students at UMSOD.
How to Get Accepted into the University of Maryland School of Dentistry
Acceptance into any dental school, including the University of Maryland, can be difficult. However, with the proper preparation and academic background, potential applicants have a chance to join the next cohort at UMSOD. Though the specific application standards vary from degree program to degree program, the UMSOD Office of Admissions has several general guidelines and advice that students should follow.
To start, UMSOD applicants should have strong GPAs; the average GPA of last year’s successful applicants was 3.6 on a 4.0 scale. Although some applicants with GPAs below 3.6 can be accepted, they must balance their lower academic achievement with other personal and professional accomplishments.
Moreover, doctoral students should plan to take the DAT, or Dental Admissions Test, which predicts their likelihood for success in dental school. UMSOD students receive an average DAT score of about 21. Furthermore, applicants who score an 18 or below will not be considered for admission. In addition, most—but certainly not all—of applicants to the master’s and doctoral programs majored in biology or another science during their undergraduate education.
And in general, applicants should be able to demonstrate their commitment to complete a challenging dental program. They must also express a broad understanding of social sciences through previous coursework; UMSOD looks for well-rounded applicants. Prior experience in research is also preferred but not required. Still, students are also encouraged to understand the nature of the dental profession by job shadowing or observing an existing dental practice before applying to UMSOD.
Of course, dental students must be able to develop fine motor skills that will allow them to perform complicated procedures over potentially extended periods. Therefore, students can strengthen their applications to UMSOD if they have experience in activities that improve fine manual dexterity, like model building or needlework such as knitting or embroidery.
UMSOD welcomes both international applicants and those from the United States. However, only U.S. residents are eligible for UMSOD financial aid and scholarships.