Dental School Preparation at UC Davis
Preparation for dental school requires, first and foremost, that certain prerequisite courses be completed and that applicants take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). After meeting these basic requirements, students with diverse backgrounds and records apply to dental school and are accepted. Although there is no "formula" or direct path that leads to acceptance, the most competitive applicants are well prepared in several areas.
You can choose any undergraduate major provided that you include the required pre-dental prerequisite classes in your course of study and do well in your science courses. In the past, successful applicants have majored in many non-science areas, as well as the more common majors (e.g., physiology, biochemistry, biological sciences). You should major in what interests you. Most students, however, major in science since that ensures there will be a great deal of overlap between courses required for the major and those required for dental school. It makes course planning easier but is not necessarily the best choice for all students. Note: Transfer students from community colleges should take a solid core of science courses at UC Davis, regardless of major.
Requirements vary by school but the following courses are generally required. Please see individual Web sites, the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools, or an advisor in Health Sciences Advising (HSA) for more specific information.
- Inorganic Chemistry: 1 year with lab (CHE 2ABC)
- Organic Chemistry: 1 year with lab (CHE 118ABC); 128ABC+129ABC also acceptable
NOTE: Other combinations of organic chemistry may be acceptable for some schools
- Physics: 1 year with lab (PHY 7ABC); 9ABC also acceptable
- Biology: 1 year with laboratory (BIS 2ABC + 1additional lab)
NOTE: Since BIS2A does not include a lab but is a prerequisite for upper division courses and is necessary preparation for the DAT, students who take BIS 2 series will need to complete an additional bio lecture + lab (e.g. CHA 101+101L, MCB 150+150L, NPB 101+101L, BIS 101+MCB 160L)
- English: 1 year (any 3 courses in Comp Lit, English or University Writing Program; 2 quarters of composition highly recommended)
NOTE: ESL, English 57 and communication classes are not acceptable by most schools; check individual schools for exceptions (e.g. UOP) and restrictions (e.g. UCSF)
Additional Requirements for California Schools
- UCSF: 2 quarters of Biochemistry (BIS 102 & 103), 1 quarter Psychology + 16 units of social science/humanities/ foreign language
- UCLA: Biochemistry (BIS 105 or BIS 102 + 103)
- UOP: 3 additional quarters of biology (no lab required) for UC Davis students or 3 additional quarters of UC Davis upper division biology with lab for transfer students (anatomy CHA 101+101L highly recommended)
- USC: 3 quarters of philosophy/history/fine arts + 3 quarters of English composition (both waived for those with bachelor's degree at matriculation)
Note: the requirements of each dental school may differ, so be sure to check with individual schools for specifics. All required courses must be taken for a grade, not on a Passed/Not Passed basis. If courses are repeated, both grades go into your AADSAS GPA (i.e. different from UC Davis policy); grades below C (or C-) not acceptable.
Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
The DAT is a lengthy, comprehensive examination administered on computer throughout the United States and its territories. The DAT consists of test sections in biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, reading comprehension, perceptual ability and quantitative ability. In addition to these sections, you are given an overall science score and an academic average. The actual test time is 4 hours and 15 minutes. As a general guideline, you should not take the DAT until you have completed the general science prerequisites (except Physics as it does not appear on the DAT); you may also want to complete courses in Genetics (BIS 101), Physiology (NPB 101), and Biochemistry (BIS 103 or 105) prior to taking the DAT. Standard scores range from 1 to 30.
Candidates may schedule the computerized DAT on almost any date throughout the year but must wait 90 days to retake the exam. There are no application deadlines for the DAT but some popular dates may fill up early so plan ahead. Ideally you should take the DAT before you apply since your application won't be complete until dental schools have your scores, and being an early applicant is important due to rolling admissions. Check with individual schools for information on their absolute deadlines for taking the DAT.
It is very important for a competitive applicant to have extracurricular activities. Fortunately, there is a wide range of possibilities available to each applicant. Some students must support themselves and work becomes their primary (but not only) extracurricular activity. It is very important that you have some type of dental experience, whether through an observational internship or actual work for a dentist since dental schools want to be certain that you have knowledge of the field. Most UC Davis students have research experience in addition to clinical dental experience. Clinical and research experiences that you initiate or develop yourself are particularly rewarding and are viewed very positively by admissions committees. Additionally, community and campus service, leadership experience, participation in organized sports or arts, and well-developed personal interests can be very important in the admission process.
Primary Application Process
Virtually all dental schools belong to a centralized application service, the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS), which allows you to apply to them through one initial application. Applications usually become available in mid-May of each application cycle, and can be accessed and submitted electronically through the official AADSAS web site. You can obtain applications for any non-AADSAS schools by contacting them directly. A Dental School Application Workshop is offered by HSA every Spring Quarter to explain the application process in detail. Be sure to subscribe to the prehealth-events Listserv so that you receive information on this and other programs that will be offered throughout the academic year.
Applications are submitted approximately 15 months before enrolling in dental school and you should make an appointment Please call (530-752-4475 to schedule) with a peer or professional staff advisor to go over your individual timeline and the application process. Professional staff advisors are also available to discuss your competitiveness and critique your personal statement.
"Secondaries" (or supplemental applications) are requests by AADSAS schools for additional information and for school application fees. Some schools require that you send supplemental materials at approximately the same time that you submit your AADSAS application; other schools do not want you to send supplemental materials until you are invited to do so (selective secondaries). You will find complete instructions in the AADSAS application materials. Non-AADSAS schools do not require secondaries.
Letters of Recommendation
Professional Letter Service (PLS): The PLS is a letter of recommendation service for UC Davis students who have already opened a file. Those who do not have a PLS file can now send letters directly to AADSAS.
The final stage of the application process is the interview. If a school offers you an interview it means they are seriously considering you. All dental schools interview potential matriculants.
At each stage of the application process, HSA advisors are available to assist you through the use of the Web, printed materials, workshops and individual advising. This includes answering questions about your application and reviewing your personal statement through our Personal Statement Review Service. For tips on writing an effective personal statement, visit our webpage on Writing a Personal Statement For Your Application to a Health Profession School.
Call our office at (530) 752-4475 or drop by 111 South Hall to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help!