When it comes to high-paying jobs that will always be in demand, dentistry is one people might want to sink their teeth into.
More than 139,000 people worked as dentists in the United States in 2020, earning a median pay of over $164,000 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In that same year, 5,040 people in the U.S. worked as orthodontists, earning a mean annual wage of nearly $238,000.
And the field is expected to grow, too. The bureau estimates that the country will add more than 11,000 dentists between 2020 and 2030, an 8% increase.
Georgia has seen its number of dentists grow, too, adding 450 more dentists from 2017 to 2019, according to a 2020 report by Georgia’s Board of Health Care Workforce. That’s a positive step for the state, which needs more dentists since 21 of its 159 counties had none.
Students who want to stay in Georgia for their studies have a few options for learning the basics that will prepare them for a career in dentistry and one long-running program for advanced dental study.
Here we’ll break down options for dental education in Georgia, how to get accepted into the programs, and much more.
Augusta University Dental College of Georgia (Augusta, GA)
For more than 50 years, the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University has educated thousands of future dentists.
Originally known as the College of Dental Medicine at Augusta University, the school was renamed the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University (DCG) in 2015. It is actually the only dental school in the state, and it has grown and thrived since welcoming its first dental doctoral students in 1969.
Within the last decade, the college began using state-of-the-art facilities, including a 269,000-square-foot Silver LEED-certified clinical building that reflects the university’s focus on environmentalism. At the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons, which opened in 2015, students learn in classrooms and a simulation laboratory. It also offers a cafe and student lounge, making it a true hub of the campus.
DCG even has an art gallery, Transcendental: Works of Impression, where students and visitors can check over 175 pieces of art that dentists and college alumni from around Georgia donated. Artwork ranges from paintings and glasswork to metal sculptures and photography.
The college isn’t just a center for students, either. Each year, almost 50,000 patients come to the college for treatment at the hands of faculty members, residents, and students, who get valuable hands-on experience. The clinical building has more than 300 dental chairs to treat children and adults, as well as simulation and practice labs for students.
Augusta has several dental degree programs, including the Doctorate in Dental Medicine (DMD) and a combined DMD/Master of Business Administration program. The college also offers another combined program (the Doctorate in Philosophy with a major in oral biology and maxillofacial pathology) as well as continuing education courses.
Students in the DMD program take courses over 11 semesters spread across four calendar years. In addition to their classwork and hands-on training, students also can conduct faculty-supervised research projects. Those in the DMD/MBA program also take courses through the university’s Hull College of Business.
Dental students can carry on traditions, too, at the college, which has several. They include the white coat ceremony, during which rising second-year students get the white garment that symbolizes their role in as dentists.
Students also can enjoy some less serious traditions, including the winter talent show and Family Day, when first-year students’ loved ones can visit campus during their first semester and see all the college has to offer.
Once they complete their degree, DMD alumni will be ready to sit for any of the United States’ dental licensing board examinations.
How to Get Accepted to Augusta University for Dentistry
DCG considers a wide range of factors when evaluating applicants, including academic elements such as undergraduate GPA and test scores. But it also wants to get to know its candidates on a more personal level and also considers details such as community involvement, research, and unusual experiences.
While the college doesn’t emphasize what candidates studied as undergraduates, it does note that applicants should do well in whatever they studied, especially in their science classes. Additionally, all prospective students must take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Previously admitted students at DCG have averaged a 20 on the academic part and a 21 on the PAT part of the DAT.
Other than test scores, applicants must submit letters of recommendation. Prospective students have different options here, as the university accepts letters from a combination of sources, including academic advisers and dentists the applicant shadowed.
DCG does not require its candidates to shadow any dentists at work before applying, but it does recommend that they do (and the admission committee looks favorably on such experience).
The college also conducts interviews with applicants by invitation only to get a better feel for their personalities, interests, and potential as dentists. Those chosen for this step then interview one-on-one with two members of the college’s admissions committee.
Students who live outside Georgia may be at a bit of a disadvantage when applying, however, because DCG is state-funded. The college only accepts up to 10% of the applications it receives from out-of-state and international candidates.
Applicants are considered Georgia residents if they’ve lived in the state for at least one year before entering the college.
Pre-Dentistry Schools in Georgia
The following schools offer pre-dentistry programs in Georgia.
Andrew College (Cuthbert, GA)
This small college in rural western Georgia sets up students for a potential career in dentistry through its Associate of Science degree in health science. Students get exposed to a wide range of career options in the health care field before focusing on the area that appeals to them. These potential careers can include pre-dentistry as well as dental hygiene.
Students can expect an intimate experience at Andrew, which has a total enrollment just shy of 300 students and a student-faculty ratio of 9-to-1.
Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, this private college was founded in 1854 and today offers mostly associate degrees with some certificates also available. Health professions are one of the college’s most popular degree programs. Niche gave Andrew College ratings of B+ for diversity and safety and B- for academics.
Prospective students need to submit their high school transcripts and should have a high school GPA of at least 2.0, earned through classes on a college preparatory track. The college does not require applicants to include SAT or the ACT scores.
However, students can include them since the college can then use them to help them place students in the proper math and English courses. Admission requirements differ slightly for homeschooled students, who will need to submit additional paperwork.
Valdosta State University (Valdosta, GA)
Pre-dentistry is one of five concentrations students at this university in south-central Georgia can choose from while earning a bachelor’s degree in biology.
Valdosta State University’s biology program aims to set up students for biology-related careers or to move on to graduate school.
The pre-dentistry track prepares students to take the DAT with the goal of entering dental school and one day becoming a dentist or orthodontist. The department goes one step further, too, advising students about job shadowing and helping them with their dental school applications and recommendation letters. Students also can meet up with their peers through the pre-dentistry student club.
The university is on the larger side, with a total undergraduate enrollment of more than 10,000. It is not among the more selective schools, either, with an acceptance rate of 58%.
Anyone interested in attending Valdosta needs to have earned a minimum score of 480 on the evidence-based reading and writing section of the SAT and a 440 on the math section.
If they take the ACT, prospective students need a math subscore of at least 17 and an English or reading subscore of at least 17.
When deciding admission, the university also uses a special formula that takes into account a student’s high school GPA from required courses as well as their ACT or SAT scores.