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Course Requirements

Typical Course Requirements

Each year, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) publishes the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools, which details admissions requirements and data for every accredited dental school in the US and Canada. This guide, published in March of each year, includes the statistics of the class that matriculated in the past summer/fall in schools across the nation.  Students can purchase their own copy of the guide and use it in conjunction with each individual school’s website for the most up to date information. 

Although requirements do vary from program to program, dental schools generally require the following courses:

  • One year of inorganic/general chemistry with lab (CHEM 1211/L and 1212/L)
  • One year of organic chemistry with lab (CHEM 2211/L and 2212/L)
  • One year of biology with lab (BIOL 1107/L and 1108/L)
  • One year of physics with lab (PHYS 1111/L and 1112/L or PHYS 1211/L and 1212/L) (Not on the DAT)
  • One year of English (ENGL 1101 and ENGL 1102)

DISCLAIMER: This is not a definitive list of the classes you will need for every school.  Always check with the individual schools to see their specific requirements.  For example, Dental College of Georgia says Organic Chemistry l and Biochemistry are sufficient without Organic Chemistry ll. Most other schools require 2 semesters of organic chemistry and may also require or recommend biochemistry.

Additionally, some schools require courses in Biochemistry, Calculus, Statistics, Psychology, English, and the Humanities.  Roughly, 42 of the approximately 66 U.S. dental schools also require biochemistry. Most schools strongly recommend additional hours in upper division biological science from lists usually on their websites. It is important to realize that schools may alter their requirements from cycle to cycle. Please be mindful of the requirements of the schools you are interested in applying. Double-check the schools admission website. Students can also reach out to each schools Admissions Counselor’s for answers to specific questions not addressed on the webpage.

AP Credit & Substitutions

Most schools have policies regarding advanced placement (AP) credit. Some schools restrict the use of such credit in fulfillment of pre-requisite requirements. In these cases, schools will often allow students to take additional upper-level courses in the science areas where AP credit was received. The policies for each dental school and their admission requirements, generally, can be found in the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools. However, for the most updated information, please visit the website of each dental school that you wish to apply since the guide is only updated once a year.

Dental College of Georgia

According to the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools for 2015-2016, the Dental College of Georgia does accept AP credit for both prerequisites and electives. However, double check with the schools website for the most up to date information.

Suggested Course Sequencing

These suggested courses are for those students with no AP credit. When selecting courses, remember that the DAT may be taken once the student has completed all of the pre-requisite courses and when they feel they are ready. Normally, this falls around the end of a student’s fall semester or late spring of their junior year. Please note that dental committees like to see students that challenge themselves with 15 hour semesters. Students are STRONGLY encouraged to take their pre-requisite courses at their home institution.

Year One
Fall Spring Summer
CHEM 1211/L CHEM 1212/L Begin shadowing with a general dentist
MATH 1113 or STAT 2000 BIOL 1107/L Volunteer/look for leadership opportunities
Core Courses (e.g., ENGL 1101) Core Courses (e.g., ENGL 1102) Get involved in campus organizations
Year Two
Fall Spring Summer
CHEM 2211/L CHEM 2212/L* Continue to shadow with a general dentist
BIOL 1108/L Core Courses Continue to volunteer and take on leadership roles
Core Courses Core Courses Continue involvement in campus organizations and look into research
Year Three
Fall Spring Summer
BCMB 3100** GENE 3200 Late spring/early summer take DAT and continue to shadow with a general dentist
VPHY 3100/CBIO 3710/PMCY 3000 DAT Review Submit AADSAS application
Major Electives Art Course (helpful for perceptual ability) Submit supplemental application
Year Four
Fall Spring Summer
Interviews PHYS 1112/L or 1212/L No classes.
PHYS 1111/L or 1211/L*** Major Electives Must have graduated.
MIBO 3500   Some dental schools begin in June or July
Additional recommended courses include:
  • Microbiology: MIBO 3500 (or 2500/L or 3000/L)
  • Anatomy: CBIO 3010/L or 3200/L
  • Cell Biology: CBIO 3400
  • Statistics: STAT 2000 or BIOS 2010
  • Psychology: PSYC 1101
  • Calculus: MATH 2250

* DCG allows Organic Chemistry l and Biochemistry in place of Organic Chemistry ll. However, most other schools require two semesters of organic chemistry and may also require or recommend biochemistry.
** Biochemistry required or recommended by many (~42) schools, including the Dental College of Georgia.
*** DCG only requires one semester of physics.  There is NO Physics on the DAT.

The Numbers Matter and so do Grade Trends 

Students who wish to enter a dental program will require strong science and overall GPAs.  Admissions committees also look for trends on a student’s transcript—so all is not lost if a student stumbles in their first semester or two, but then shows substantial improvement each subsequent year.  However, they will also notice negative trends such as if a student is consistently withdrawing from or performing poorly in hard sciences or is completing them away from their home institution.  While an instance or two is not a deal-breaker, a pattern of behavior will be.  Students must demonstrate the ability to handle difficult scientific content.

Should I major in Biology (Cell Biology, Genetics, etc.)?

Although a life-science major such as Biology may offer the most practical route to completing the requirements for admission into dental school, it is not required nor necessarily recommended. It is more important that you choose a major that best fits your interests.  As long as you show proficiency in the sciences and a general pattern of challenging yourself, your major is largely unimportant to admission committees.