A wave of interest in medical training of all kinds, sometimes called the “Fauci effect,” has swept the college application cycle. For any kind of medical degree, competition for the few spots available now means candidates need a robust application and a broad scope of potential schools.
Prospective dental students might find the overall acceptance rates discouragingly low, with most accredited schools accepting fewer than 10% of applicants.
But the following schools offer quality dental programs, and they have some of the highest acceptance rates in the country, according to data published by BEMO Academic Consulting about dental school acceptance rates.
Requirements for dental school can be even more specific than for general medical programs, in some cases. Most schools require the DAT, or Dental Admission Test, and many use the Associated American Dental School Application Service, or AADSAS, to pre-screen application.
Candidates can apply once they have three years of undergraduate work usually. Most schools have a list of required and preferred coursework, largely in the sciences.
Students wishing to practice standard dentistry will follow the curriculum for a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree (DMD). Each program offers one or the other of these degrees.
Prospective dental students should apply early because most programs have rolling admissions. Most dental programs, especially those on this list, favor in-state candidates, and some require a commitment to remain in the area to practice.
10. Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine (Alton, IL)
Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine offers a high level of faculty access due to a small student body, and its graduates have enjoyed a high first-time pass rate on National Board Dental Exams.
A BA or BS is recommended but not mandatory; three years of undergraduate work, including a list of required and recommended coursework, meet the academic requirements. Clinical experience and shadowing are also not required for admission, but those kinds of experiences will help an application stand out.
More than half of Southern Illinois’s graduates go straight into private practice. Tuition runs lower than the national average, and the cost of living in Alton remains low, allowing graduates to begin careers without heavy debt.
Students start their clinical training in a state-of-the-art simulation lab, then move on to work directly with a variety of patients in community service settings, including special needs populations, veterans, and children.
Located in the small town of Alton, on the Mississippi River above the mouth of the Missouri, the campus is only a 30-minute drive from St. Louis. Around 7.9% of applicants are admitted.
9. University of Alabama School of Dentistry (Birmingham, AL)
The University of Alabama’s School of Dentistry has a history going back to 1948, but the school stays at the forefront of technology and dental innovation.
In the 1960s, UAB Dental introduced dental hygienists to dental practice. These days, students can participate in auxiliary programs covering topics like craniofacial development, oral cancer, or biomaterial science.
The school hosts the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network, a community of dental professionals sharing practice-based research insights.
Through partnerships around Alabama, UAB School of Dentistry provides dental care for underserved populations, giving dental students a chance to work with patients of all ages in all kinds of clinical circumstances.
Applicants should have at least three years of undergraduate study, including specific course requirements, mostly in science and math.
UAB offers dual programs combining an MBA or PhD with a DMD for students interested in clinical administration or in research. The acceptance rate for the dental program is 8.66%.
8. University of Minnesota School of Dentistry (Minneapolis, MN)
The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry educates almost 3/4 of Minnesota’s practicing dentists, offering a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree and a host of specialty programs like periodontology and maxillofacial surgery.
Clinical rotations take place within community outreach programs in locations across Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Senior dental students can volunteer for two weeks each summer in the Indian Health Service/Tribal Outreach externships.
For candidates interested in learning if dental school is the right choice for them, Minnesota offers a weekend dental school prep course, where students use dental simulation tools, attend lectures, and explore career options.
Minnesota requires at least 87 undergraduate semester credits. Students should choose a broad range of coursework in which they can excel. Though the admissions department reports valuing the quality of undergraduate work over course selection, the program does have a list of prerequisites.
The acceptance rate for the dental program at Minnesota is 9.16%. Minnesota admissions advises students to gain real-world experience, take diverse coursework, and apply early for the best chance of admission.
7. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry (New Orleans, LA)
Louisiana State University’s School of Dentistry offers a DDS and programs in dental hygiene and dental lab technology. Students can also pursue fellowships in special needs dentistry and implants, or in specializations like pediatric dentistry and prosthodontics.
Located in metropolitan Baton Rouge, LSU is a large state school with an active campus. Cost of living is relatively low, and even for nonresidents, tuition and fees come to $63,839 per year. Residents pay $35,141 annually.
LSU’s overall acceptance rate is 9.28%, but Louisiana residents receive extra consideration. Of the 75 positions available in each incoming dentistry class, 56 are dedicated to Louisiana residents.
The two-part application process starts with submitting the basic information to the Associated American Dental School Application Service. Eligible applicants will receive materials to complete the second stage of supporting documents.
Candidates must complete a chalk carving exercise in order to demonstrate their manual dexterity. The admissions committee selects based on their complete evaluation of the candidate’s ability to succeed in the dental profession.
6. University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine (San Juan, PR)
The University of Puerto Rico offers a comprehensive four-year DMD degree through its School of Dentistry. Students acquire practical skills for running a dental practice, specialized training in pediatric and geriatric dentistry, and training in diagnosing orofacial diseases and abnormalities.
Requirements include a broad base of coursework in the sciences and humanities, including hours in Spanish and English. Tuition and fees for each of the first two years runs about $50k; years three and four are slightly less, for a four-year total cost of $180, 649.
The University of Puerto Rico’s School of Dental Medicine receives applications through the Advanced Dental Education Programs portal. The dental school’s acceptance rate is 10%. Preference is extended to residents of Puerto Rico.
Located in San Juan, UPR’s dental school is the only dental school in Puerto Rico. Though the school is accredited by the ADA, allowing graduates to practice in the mainland, the school’s administration is motivated to accept and train dentists who wish to practice in Puerto Rico.
5. Augusta University Dental College of Georgia (Augusta, GA)
The Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University offers a four-year DMD degree designed to prepare students for licensing and practice. Dual degrees include a DMD/MBA and DMD/PhD in Oral Biology.
A public university, Augusta serves as Georgia’s health sciences college, with 150 study across several professional programs. Hands-on, practical training goes along with innovative research at this university with 150 years of health care education experience.
Augusta, the campus’s location, sits across the Savannah River from South Carolina, about two hours from Atlanta. The Dental College uses the AADSAS preliminary application; interviews are by invitation. Acceptance rate is 10%.
Students begin treating patients by their second year in the program, ranked 16th for dentistry and oral sciences globally. For the last decade, 93% of graduates have passed their licensing exams on the first attempt.
Fifteen dental student organizations on campus give students a chance to network, socialize, and collaborate. Exchange programs take students to Italy, France, and China.
4. Ohio State University College of Dentistry (Columbus, OH)
The Ohio State University College of Dentistry is the fourth largest in the country, an 11% acceptance rate, and a strong preference for Ohio natives.
They track first-generation students and students from the Appalachian region, supporting their mission to provide dental care for regional underserved populations.
Their DDS degree can be combined with a Master’s in Public Health or a research-oriented PhD. Applicants should use the AADSAS service, checking Ohio State’s prerequisites for eligibility.
Ohio State also requires that candidates have at least 40 hours of dental experience, though most successful applicants have around 120 hours with a diverse group of practitioners.
To help students from underserved populations without some of the necessary backgrounds to apply, Ohio State offers the one-year DentPath entry program. Students who complete DentPath automatically earn a spot in the DDS program.
The total cost of matriculation for Ohio residents is around $85k for the most expensive year of the four-year program; other years are a little less. Non-residents pay $43k-$56k more per year.
Located in Columbus, the capital of Ohio and its most populated city, the Ohio State campus has a metropolitan lifestyle and extensive student life activities.
3. University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry (Kansas City, MO)
The University of Missouri offers an extensive university experience in the metropolitan area of Kansas City. The school is located within the major health care system known as Hospital Hill, a few miles north of UMKC’s main campus. The acceptance rate is 11.37%.
Students begin clinical work in the first year of the program, as UMKC views the hands-on experience as a critical training component. Collaborative problem-solving and team assignments are also part of the curriculum.
Eligible applicants will have completed 90 hours of undergraduate coursework, including a standard list of prerequisite courses. The program requires a minimum DAT of 16, though most accepted candidates score around 20.
UMKC strongly suggests candidates have at least 100 hours of dental clinical experience in five different settings, along with 100 hours of community service, also in 5 different settings.
Tuition and fees are a little over $18k for Missouri residents, not including living expenses. Out-of-state students pay an additional $18k, but opportunities exist for funding to cover the difference.
Missouri and Kansas residents are eligible for the school’s Reserved Admission Program, which offers early admission to dental school for college sophomores.
2. Eastern Carolina University School of Dental Medicine (Greenville, NC)
East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine is one of the newer programs on the list, started in 2011 to address the need for dental practitioners in rural areas of North Carolina.
The school’s central DMD program can be enhanced with additional years in advanced dental education or general practice residencies.
ECU uses the AADSAS application process, with typical requirements for eligibility. Candidates under consideration will be invited for an interview with the admissions committee.
While the main campus of the dental school is at ECU in the coastal city of Greenville, fourth-year clinical experience for students takes place in 8 service-learning clinics located in small towns from the beach to the mountains.
Recent awards from Apple and the ADEA make ECU Dental a promising choice for dental study. Acceptance rate is 13.75%; due to its mission, the school extends enrollment to North Carolina residents only.
1. University of Mississippi School of Dentistry (Oxford, MS)
The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s School of Dentistry jumps to a 31.81% acceptance rate, the highest acceptance rate for an accredited dental school in the U.S.
One reason for this rate is that the program is the only dental school of any kind in Mississippi, part of an enormous hospital system that generates 2% of the state’s annual economy.
The UM dental program is dedicated to educating candidates from underserved communities and providing dental care to all citizens of Mississippi.
The school offers a DMD degree, along with four different specialized residency programs. UM offers a specific program in dental oncology. The estimated cost of attendance comes in around $70k per year.
Like most dental programs, UM requires no particular major, but does have prerequisite coursework. While the school does accept applications from out-of-state candidates, no non-residents of Mississippi have been accepted in recent years.