With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a strong job outlook for dentists along with a median salary of around $159,200 per year, it’s no surprise that aspiring students with interest in healthcare may be eager to enter the profession. Indeed, the U.S. News & World Report ranks dentist as the #5 best healthcare job in the nation and the #11 best paying job out of any profession.
Of course, the first step to becoming a dentist is attending dental school. Typically lasting four years, dental school is a post-graduate degree that most students apply to after receiving their bachelor’s degree. At dental school, students grow their scientific and clinical knowledge of the field, and receive plenty of hands-on experience.
Texas is home to three nationally recognized dental schools, each one providing its students with the specialized knowledge and training they need to flourish in the dental field. However, as with dental schools all around the country, getting admitted to a dental school in Texas is extremely competitive. Just over 55% of students who apply to dental school are accepted, and every school has different requirements and prerequisites for incoming students – so it’s very important for would-be dental students to do their research.
The top three dental schools in Texas, based on selectivity of admission, are University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston (8.5% acceptance rate), University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School (7.1% acceptance rate), and Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry (6.7% acceptance rate).
3. University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston
Accepting just 8.5% of students who apply, the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston (UTSD Houston) is a prestigious dental school that’s top of the list for many prospective students hoping to join a course of study in dentistry.
Students can choose from 10 accredited programs, including DDS (doctor of dental surgery), oral and maxillofacial surgery, and pediatric dentistry – ensuring that no matter where a student’s specific dental interests lie, they will find knowledgeable instructors ready to train them in that area. UTSD Houston also offers students a unique opportunity to choose a dual-degree program in partnership with the University of Texas School of Public Health and McGovern Medical School. This dual option enables students to concurrently earn a doctor of dental surgery degree alongside a master’s degree in public health or medicine.
Whichever specialization students elect to pursue at UTSD Houston, they will be able to take advantage of outstanding clinical and academic opportunities, all under the tutelage of world-renowned instructors and guest lecturers.
In addition, students will be surrounded by like-minded classmates who share their drive for getting a second-to-none healthcare education. Past alumni from UTSD Houston have received a number of recognitions in their field, such as 2015 UTSD Houston alum Katie Sowa Stuchlik, DDS, who received a “10 Under 10 Award” from the American Dental Association in March 2021. The award is given to just 10 dentists making a professional impact less than 10 years after graduation.
The modern, spacious, state-of-the-art facilities at UTSD Houston are another key draw for prospective dental students. The school moved into a new facility in 2012, now boasting 305,000 square feet of clinical simulation and learning space where students can get first-hand practice in their chosen specialities. This includes 20,000 square feet of lab and research space to foster exciting innovations in biomedical research, as well as 14,000 square feet of conference and meeting space to open up even more educational opportunities to students.
When it comes to capturing a coveted acceptance from a competitive dental school like UTSD Houston, the first step is understanding what kind of applicants the selection committee is looking for. At UTSD Houston, each department has its own admissions requirements.
The Doctor of Dental Surgery degree program, for example, expects incoming students to have completed at least 90 hours at an accredited US or Canadian college, with courses in all the major sciences – biological, general and organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics – as well as classes in English and statistics.
Beyond courses taken in undergraduate study, the UTSD Houston admissions committee will look at a number of screening factors for potential applicants: from overall grade point average, to academic progression, to overall educational experience based on total number of credit hours.
2. UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry
The most visited city in Texas and the home of multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, San Antonio is also home to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. A leading academic health center, the facility includes the UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry. This prestigious, competitive dental school maintains a tough acceptance rate of 7.1%, making it the second most selective dental program in the state of Texas.
The UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry offers a highly regarded doctor of dental surgery (DDS) degree, with a number of choices under the DDS program so that students can choose what best fits their ultimate professional goals.
DDS students can elect for the dual DDS/PhD program, focused on training up clinician scientists in the dental and craniofacial sphere.
Or, students can choose a dental early acceptance program that helps them earn their bachelor’s and DDS degrees simultaneously.
Finally, a fast-tracked international dentist education program designed to help qualified foreign dental graduates receive their DDS degree and practice in the United States is also available.
Students looking to enter the dental hygiene field will appreciate that at the UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry, it’s possible to study the subject at both the bachelor’s and the master’s level. This specialized bachelor’s degree offering means that entry-level students who already know they want to join the dental hygiene profession can kickstart their concentrated dental studies, rather than getting a more general bachelor’s of science first.
Additionally, San Antonio also has a bachelor’s of science degree completion program, aimed at licensed dental hygienists who are already practicing but have not completed their bachelor’s education.
Along with training students to excel in the clinical dental environment, the UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry is also known for its excellence in medical and dental research. Faculty and student researchers have published over 4,000 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and the school is recognized as being in the top 13% of all academic institutions receiving funding from the National Institute of Health.
When applying to the UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry, be aware that program application deadlines and requirements vary by program. The school does offer a list of helpful interview tips to help prospective students understand more about what the admissions committee looks for during its extremely selective decision process. Key pieces of advice include: demonstrate an understanding of the professional field you hope to enter; be ready to discuss current trends and research in the world of dentistry; and speak confidently about why the UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry is the right fit.
1. Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry
The most competitive dental school in Texas with an acceptance rate of 6.7%, the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry is highly regarded for bringing together academic excellence, pioneering research, and service to the community.
There are many reasons why the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry is so attractive to prospective dental students. The school is the largest oral health services provider in all the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with over 100,000 patients visiting the college every year. For students, this means significant hands-on experience as well as the chance to make a real impact in their local community.
The program also gives its trainees the chance to provide treatment and healthcare education during visits to nearby hospitals, nursing homes, and jails.
Applicants with a desire to enter a research-based field rather than a clinical practice will find plenty to empower their education at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.
The college is home to an Office of Technology Development where students can work in tandem with researchers on dental and craniofacial projects with commercial potential. Other kinds of innovative research are being done at the college every day, spanning craniofacial pain, periodontal disease, tissue biology, and much more.
The distinguished faculty at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry often go above and beyond their job description: another reason the college is so attractive to the numerous students who apply each year.
Dr. Jayne Reuben, who has taught at the college since 2017, recently received a Provost Academic Professional Track Faculty Teaching Excellence Award for her work in providing meaningful learning experiences. Dan Burch (DDS, MA), an assistant clinical professor at the college, announced his intention to spearhead a special-needs dentistry program to better serve patients with intellectual disabilities.
Admissions requirements to Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry vary depending on the program. Contact details and more information for each program is listed on the college’s website to help prospective students prepare for the competitive selection process. Generally speaking, applicants will need a minimum of 90 semester hours. Apart from the fundamental science courses, students can strengthen their admission chances with additional molecular biology, immunology, and neuroscience classes. As with any dental school, receiving a good score on the Dental Admission Test will also factor into the final admissions decision.