The 10 Best Orthodontist Schools in the US

Even if you don’t know anything about science, you could probably name a few great medical schools, right off the top of your head. Johns Hopkins and Harvard leap to mind, but what about orthodontists? 

Although they may not be as famous as their MD counterparts, there’s no denying that orthodontists are important to our everyday life. Not only do they help give us shiny smiles and clean teeth, but they also help us make better diet choices and even diagnose serious problems, including forms of cancer. 

Like every other medical professional, dentists must undergo rigorous educational training. Combining academic excellence and practical expertise, all dentists must have knowledge and skill to succeed in their careers. 

That’s particularly true for orthodontists, who specialize in addressing problems in patient’s teeth and jaws. Because the field is always changing as we learn more about the human body, orthodontists need to continue building on their existing knowledge. 

For that reason, future orthodontists must be diligent when choosing the school where they’ll learn their trade. And because great dentistry schools don’t get as much public attention, it can be hard to pick. 

Today, we discuss the 10 best orthodontist schools in the US, according to

Using this list, you’ll be able to make the right decision for your education and your career, finding the right school to give you the training and experience you need to help us care for our teeth.  

10. Marquette University School of Dentistry (Milwaukee, WI)

Marquette University
Danielggpeters, Marquette University, CC BY-SA 4.0

At the Marquette University School of Dentistry, future orthodontists learn their trade-in Wisconsin’s only dental school and clinic

The 120,000 square foot facility is filled with advanced clinical resources, including state-of-the-art technologies. The facility not only gives students a chance to practice on medical mannequins and with high-tech equipment but to also work with real patients, under the eyes of their mentors. 

The facility is just one example of the school’s commitment to keeping pace with the latest trends, a quality that has defined the School of Dentistry since its founding in 1894

Knowing that orthodontists need to enter the field familiar with new equipment, the school ensures that their students have expertise in all the tools of the trade. 

But the Marquette School of Dentistry knows that their field is not all technology. To that end, the school remains committed to teaching based on evidence-based research. It’s students not only learn, but participate in, the evolving body of dental knowledge, confident that they have a full understanding of their craft. 

9. Saint Louis University Center for Advanced Dental Education (St. Louis, MO) 

St. Louis University Hospital
LittleT889, St. Louis University Hospital, CC BY-SA 4.0

Where every school on this list trains students in impressive facilities, the Center for Advanced Dental Education at Saint Louis University has four state-of-the-art treatment clinics. For those going into orthodontics, these clinics mean that students do not need to share with periodontic or pediatric dentistry students. They have a space all to their own. 

However, that does not mean that Saint Louis University trains its practitioners in a vacuum. Rather, the school emphasizes collaboration between departments, so their students can take a holistic approach to dental care. Looking at the entire human body, students learn how to become caring orthodontists, as caring as they are intelligent. 

This focus on the whole person is an extension of Saint Louis University’s Catholic heritage in the Jesuit tradition. Following their religious values, the school prepares students to solve problems and increase the health and happiness of all people. 

8.  University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry (Chicago, IL)

University of Illinois Chicago
Hied5, UIC East campus in autumn colors, CC BY-SA 3.0

The University of Illinois at Chicago is renowned as one of the nation’s best research institutions, and the College of Dentistry continues that proud tradition. Founded in 1891, the College of Dentistry offers several degrees, including six advanced education and residency certificate programs. 

Like its parent school, the UIC College of Dentistry puts research at the forefront. In addition to treatment centers of every specialty, including oral biology and orthodontics, the College houses the Center for Wound Healing and the Brodie Lab for Craniofacial Genetics.

Of equal importance is the school’s community oral health outreach service. In addition to giving students the opportunity to practice their skills on real patients, the service provides over $1 million in free care to underserved people in the community. Members of the program apply their trade-in health fairs, elementary schools, churches, and other community events. 

7. Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine (Cleveland, OH)

Case Western Reserve University
Rdikeman, Case Western Reserve Campus, CC BY-SA 3.0

For decades, the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine (CSDM) has been a leader in the field of dentistry. Its graduates include the father and son team Holly Broadbent Sr. and Jr., forerunners of dental surgery, and the current graduate director at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Hom-Lay Wang.

Even today, the school is committed to advancing the study of dentistry. A recent project to study links between HIV and cancer won a $3.7 million grant. Another important study has led to the construction of a device to instantly detect oral cancer

Unsurprisingly, CSDM is a tough school to enter. The school has a highly exclusive 2.9% acceptance rate. For the best chance to make it in, applicants need several years of experience and strong letters of recommendation. 

6. University of Washington (Seattle, WA)

University of Washington
Richardmouser, Campus Scene in March 2021 at Drumheller Fountain, Seattle, CC BY-SA 4.0

“The place where beautiful smiles are created!” With such a cheery slogan, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the University of Washington isn’t a serious school. But make no mistake, the school’s Department of Orthodontics trains some of the best academics and clinicians in the nation and remains on the cutting edge of research. 

Washington’s highly selective graduate program admits only five students each year. Those students participate in an intensive 33-month program, during which they earn a certificate in orthodontics and a Master of Science in Dentistry. Focusing on evidence-based research, the program gives students the knowledge and technical expertise needed to be an outstanding orthodontist. 

Those lucky few who enter the program benefit from the knowledge and experience of a first-rate faculty, ready to share the wisdom they’ve gained in the clinic. Masters of their profession, U Washington’s faculty serve as mentors and guides for the orthodontists of tomorrow. 

5. Texas A&M University (College Station, TX)

Texas A&M University
Ronw526, Sbisa, CC BY-SA 3.0

As one of Texas A&M University’s six clinical departments in the College of Dentistry, the Orthodontics Department can trace its roots back to 1905, when orthodontics was a regular part of the school’s undergraduate curriculum. 

Since then, the subject has become the focus of the entire department, allowing the school to explore every corner of the profession. It’s all part of the school’s objective to provide a balanced educational experience, with a foundation in science and a focus on clinical practice. 

The department balances that clinical approach with a commitment to research, as demonstrated by its primary coordinating base, the Clinical Research Center in Orthodontics

In addition to a clinical treatment facility and a functional analysis laboratory, the Clinical Research Center also features a data processing laboratory and facilities dedicated to cephalometric tracing and scanning. 

Students and faculty diagnose and treat patients with orthopedic problems, working together with a network of clinicians and scientists to advance research in the field. 

4. Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine (Stony Brook, NY)

Stony Brook University Union
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Stony Brook University Union, CC BY-SA 4.0

While all of the schools on this list train students in special aspects of orthodontics, the School of Dental Medicine at New York’s Stony Brook University takes a wide approach, ensuring that future practitioners receive a well-rounded education

That diverse approach begins in the second year of the program, in which future orthodontists learn the fundamentals of oral health for children. Covering both preventative care and restorative care, students gain knowledge of techniques for helping our youngest citizens care for their teeth and gums. 

Those looking for highly specialized knowledge can participate in the school’s advanced education program in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. The highly intensive three-year, full-time program not only prepares students to pass the certification exam from the American Board of Orthodontics, but it also gives them unique, hands-on experience. Emphasizing diagnostic procedures and treatment plans, students learn how to apply clinical methods to help patients meet their treatment objectives. 

3. University of Michigan School of Dentistry (Ann Arbor, MI)

University of Michigan Dental School
AndrewHorne, University of Michigan Dental School, CC BY-SA 3.0

Established in 1875, the School of Dentistry at the University of Michigan is one of the oldest and most respected schools in the nation. As the second university in the world to offer dental education, after only Harvard University, the U of Michigan has a long history of excellence in the field. 

The school commemorates that history in the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, which features more than 15,000 items. With artifacts dating all the way to the 18th century, Sindecuse shows orthodontists of the future the technologies that defined their field. 

Today, orthodontists study a unique and flexible curriculum, which emphasizes student’s individual interests and abilities. 

During their third year, orthodontics students can pick an area of interest, such as clinical practice, teaching, or research. No matter which track they choose, students are supported by a faculty of dedicated professionals, who continue to make U of Michigan a leader in the field.

2. University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (Philadelphia, PA)

University of Pennsylvania
Pennalumni, The Castle, marked as public domain

As the only Ivy League institution on this list, it’s no surprise that the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine sits near the top. Part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Penn Dental enjoys first-class resources and a dedicated research team – everything future orthodontists need to become experts. 

At the center of the school is the Robert Schattner Center. At the center, students can find a surgery center, which covers everything from oral surgery to maxillofacial surgery, as well as an emergency clinic and faculty practice. In these areas, students gain hands-on experience working with faculty members and performing some of the most difficult parts of their craft. 

For those more interested in research, Penn Dental has the Levy Center for Oral Health Research. The Center houses the school’s basic science faculty, as well as everything necessary for research. With a library and connections to a large network of professionals, the Levy Center ensures that students can continue working toward the future. 

1. University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (Rochester, NY)

University of Rochester
Tomwsulcer, Burton Hall residence at the University of Rochester, CC0 1.0

Coming in at number one on our list is the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester, an institution renowned for its excellent residency program and advanced dental education. The School regularly receives accolades from observers such as U.S. News & World Report, often falling within the top 35 of all graduate schools in the United States. 

For future orthodontists, the University of Rochester offers an orthodontics residency program through the Eastman Institute for Oral Health

Through this program, students gain clinical expertise in orthodontics, with an emphasis on the ability to diagnose complex problems and apply expertise to fix them. With a strong background in biology and basic sciences, students learn how to not only engage with but also critically evaluate current research, often adding to it themselves. 

With courses covering everything from theory to sciences to application, the University of Rochester gives orthodontists everything they need to succeed.