The list of dental schools without prerequisites is brief, as most, if not all, dental schools require that students complete certain courses, especially in the sciences, before applying. There is only one known dental school program that officially does not require prerequisites. With dental school acceptance rates being so low, students looking into how to become a dentist have a lot to consider, and some may wonder if their academic profile measures up. Even if basically all dental schools require prerequisite courses, some require far fewer than others, which may suit certain applicants. In this article, we present some of those programs and reflect on the value of prerequisites for the dental school candidate.
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Dental Schools Without Prerequisites
When it comes right down to it, there are no dental schools without prerequisites among the 80 accredited dental schools in North America.
In addition to setting up their DAT study schedule, the most common activity of dental school hopefuls is taking prerequisites – specifically in the sciences. These can be qualified as the Biology – Chemistry – Physics triad. In addition, lab work is almost always required to accompany these courses and is considered a prerequisite.
While all US schools participating in the ADEA AADSAS dental school application process require these science prerequisites, and several dental schools in the US and Canada require other prerequisites, there are some dental schools that make fewer demands.
The following list is made up of dental schools with the fewest prerequisite course requirements overall.
Top 10 Dental Schools Without Prerequisites
(Other than Biology – Chemistry – Physics)
- Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine: Requires a minimum of 90 semester hours; a bachelor’s degree is strongly recommended and 6 semester hours of English or similar reading/writing-intensive coursework in the humanities. No other prerequisites are required; instead, the school seeks creativity and innovation in applicants as well as students with knowledge of foreign languages, especially American Sign Language.
- Creighton University School of Dentistry: Requires 2 semesters of English but has no other prerequisites. However, students are recommended to take upper-level courses such as Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, Genetics, Neuroscience, Immunology, Pharmacology, Molecular Biology, and Histology. Note that less than 1.5% of dental schools require Immunology or Histology.
- Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC: This school is unique in that it requires English Composition (1 year) and Philosophy, History, or Fine Arts (1 year) as its only prerequisites, and the requirement can be waived for students with a bachelor’s degree from the US or Canada.
- McGill University Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences: Depending on where you graduated, you must have a 4-year bachelor’s degree (Canadian and International) or a 3-year bachelor’s degree with a DEC (Québec) to apply to McGill. There are no additional prerequisites.
- Medical University of South Carolina James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine: In addition to English courses, some schools will also require Mathematics, such as Calculus, Statistics, or College Algebra, as is the case for this school.
- New York University College of Dentistry: Applicants with a bachelor’s degree or 90 completed credits and a GPA of 3.5+ will be preferred. Some intensive writing English courses are also required.
- Temple University Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry: Six credit hours in English are required, and taking some advanced science courses, such as Anatomy, Biochemistry, Histology, and Physiology, is highly recommended.
- University of Montreal (Université de Montréal) Faculté de médecine dentaire: A Québec science-based diploma of collegial studies (DEC), DEC in another discipline plus a Mathematics prerequisite, or a bachelor’s degree is required for entry to this 5-year DMD degree. French competency is also required.
- University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry: This is the only dental school in the US where you can complete a four-year academic curriculum in three calendar years. A bachelor’s degree is preferable but not required, as well as some English courses.
- High Point University Workman School of Dental Medicine: This new dental school claims that it has no prerequisites at all! Read on to discover how this is embodied by their unique approach to admissions.
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What Are Dental School Prerequisites?
Pre-dental courses are sorted into required and recommended courses; prerequisites are those required courses you must complete prior to entry into a DMD or DDS program, and they always include biology, chemistry, and physics. Other prerequisites that are emphasized vary significantly among dental schools, but certain courses, such as biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology, are common.
Additional prerequisites required by dental schools include English (with an emphasis on reading, writing, and composition) and mathematics. Dental schools also encourage candidates to take arts, social sciences, and humanities courses, and a few consider these prerequisites.
The most common prerequisites required by dental schools (other than biology, chemistry, and physics) are shown in this chart:
Other prerequisites required by dental schools include the following:
- Humanities/Social Sciences: 4.28%
- Sociology: 2.85%
- Cell Biology, Histology, Zoology: 1.4%
The number of prerequisites that dental schools require differs, depending on the specific school; one school might list three or more additional science prerequisites, while another will only require English. This is why it is essential to confirm the requirements of each school you apply to both directly and via your dental school supplemental application.
Moreover, for each school you apply to, you will need to check whether the courses you have taken qualify as prerequisites for that particular school. Universities have different course divisions and numbering systems. For example, how do Chem 2111 and Chem 3111 from Mount Allison University compare to Chem 2401 and Chem 2402 from Dalhousie? We can tell you that both sets of courses fulfill the prerequisite criteria when applying to the Dalhousie Faculty of Dentistry, but you should check with every one of the schools you are interested in directly. If you have doubts, call them and ask if your course selections are good or if you should consider other options.
Is Shadowing a Prerequisite?
If you are interested in dental school, you have likely been wondering how to shadow a dentist because it’s such a stringent requirement of so many dental schools. It isn’t technically a prerequisite, but like lab work, many dental schools expect applicants to complete up to 300 shadowing hours prior to entering the program.
Although shadowing has many benefits, such as learning about the day-to-day of a dentist, observing procedures, engaging with patients, and acquiring technical know-how, it may not be easy to accomplish the high number of hours that some schools expect. Students are often attracted to dental schools in Canada for this reason, because shadowing is typically not a requirement.
For example, the admission requirements of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University do not include shadowing, lab work, or dental school letters of recommendation. Moreover, prerequisite courses can be taken at any time – not necessarily during the student’s undergrad. If a candidate is invited for an interview and has not completed an approved Physiology course, they will be required to take what is called the Physiology Challenge Exam as part of the interview process. In other words, all things considered, fewer admission requirements overall can have the effect of lessening the burden of prerequisites at this dental school.
Why Apply to Dental Schools Without Prerequisites?
Students who search for dental schools without prerequisites have their own reasons for doing so. Maybe your interest in dentistry came along late in your undergrad, or maybe you are struggling academically and feel daunted by medical school GPA requirements. Intent on a career in health care, you might be considering, “why do you want to be a dentist?”. Some mature students come around to dentistry after asking themselves, “am I too old for medical school?”. You might be an engineering student who has taken extensive science courses, but not the specific ones required for dental school. Or, you may have been “discovered” during completion of your medical school requirements and had a professor or supervisor link your manual dexterity to a potential future in dentistry.
For all these reasons, you may have fewer prerequisite courses under your belt when you are considering applying to dental school.
One of the schools on our list, the High Point University Workman School of Dental Medicine, recently opened its doors and claims to cater to students with different needs like the ones we mention above. This new dental program at a private university is seeking applicants with a broad, robust educational background from all 50 US states and many countries. Although a foundation in science is still important, HPU encourages non-science majors educated in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to apply to their new DMD program.
The core values of the HPU Workman School of Dental Medicine are creativity, innovation, collaboration, teamwork, integrity, trust, leadership, and learning. The school aims to advance the profession by giving preference to applicants who “demonstrate a commitment to excellence and leadership through extracurricular activities and community service. This may include exposure to research experience, in-person observation or online review of dental procedures or attending dental-related informational programs.”
The Workman School of Dental Medicine promotes their admissions process as being “different” because it requires no degrees, prerequisite courses, standardized tests (e.g., DAT), or shadowing hours. Nor are there any application or supplemental fees. The school does require the CASPer and Duet assessments, part of the Altus Suite, each of which has a fee. Because it is a new program, there is currently an early commitment option for priority evaluation, interview, and admissions offers, with a rolling admissions process that can result in an acceptance as soon as two weeks after the interview.
While this may all sound appealing to students looking for dental schools without prerequisites, a closer look reveals that to demonstrate the qualities sought by the Workman School of Dental Medicine, you will still have to fulfill various criteria to align your dental school application experiences, knowledge, and attributes with the CARE Curriculum they propose.
CARE stands for the following dental school model:
And, while there are no required courses, there are preferred and most preferred courses:
This example of the Workman School of Dental Medicine shows that even when courses are not labeled prerequisites, the same skill set is always required for dental school. Given that Workman also considers most preferred courses in advocacy and entrepreneurship, their admissions process, while being highly diversified, complex, and intriguing, may be even more demanding than the conventional admissions process with prerequisites.
This brings up a point that all dental school candidates should keep in mind: even if courses are described as recommended or preferred, rather than required, it is wise to think of any course a school recommends as a prerequisite of sorts. Yet, because it is impossible to take every single course, students may wish to consider dental school admissions consulting services to help them sort through the schools that interest them and plan out their prerequisites well ahead of time.
Why Do Dental Schools Have Prerequisites?
Like dental school extracurriculars, prerequisites have a purpose on your journey to dental school. They don’t just exist as an academic milestone or measure of your performance. Their real value is in how you will apply your learning from them to core aspects of the dental school curriculum. Science courses, lab work, and the understanding and technical skills that come with them are all essential for a student of oral health care and, eventually, a practicing dentist. That is why, whichever path you take, you can’t get around science prerequisites. For dental schools, this also ensures that all their matriculants are at an equivalent level and can handle the complex instruction involved in a DMD or DDS program.
Adopting a strategy of applying to dental schools without prerequisites can really boost your chances of acceptance to a great school by lessening the load of courses you need to take. Of course, you will still need science prerequisites, but you will be able to focus on your biology, chemistry, and physics course more intensively if you are not worrying about taking three or more upper-level science courses as well.
On the other hand, just because a course is recommended and not required, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it. You should always aim to fulfill as many of a school’s course requirements as possible, even if they are not strictly prerequisites. But if you are lacking prerequisites or have a complex academic background, dental schools without prerequisites – or fewer prerequisites – might give you the advantage you need.
If you’re struggling to find your way or just want to have the best chance possible of getting into your dream school, consider working with a dental school advisor to straighten things out. These experts can assist you with many aspects of the admissions process, from helping you draft your dental school personal statement to coaching you on how to prepare for your dental school interview.
Having an atypical academic profile and background does not need to be an impediment to entering dental school; in fact, provided you ensure you have the necessary science prerequisites, there are dental school options out there for just about everyone.
1. Are there any dental schools without prerequisites?
There aren’t really any dental schools without prerequisites when you consider that you always have to take science courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. However, there are dental schools with fewer prerequisites, and these could be good options for students with limited prerequisites, who are struggling academically, or who have a complex or unique educational background.
2. Do all dental schools require science courses?
Yes, you will need to complete required science coursework (prerequisites) to apply to dental school.
3. Are recommended courses prerequisites?
Technically, recommended courses are not prerequisites, but anything a dental school signals as being important should be considered a requirement. Although you can’t take every course, if you plan ahead, you can take appropriate prerequisites for the schools on your list.
4. Is lab work a prerequisite for dental school?
Yes, for the purposes of your application, you should consider the lab work associated with your biology, chemistry, and physics classes a prerequisite. While not all dental schools require lab work, the majority do.
5. Is shadowing a prerequisite for dental school?
Technically, shadowing is not a prerequisite, but so many dental schools require it that it is often thought of as a prerequisite. Some schools may require up to 300 hours. As a rule, dental schools in Canada require less shadowing.
6. What are the most common prerequisites for dental school, after science courses?
Biochemistry, Microbiology, Anatomy, Physiology, Mathematics, and English are the next most common prerequisites.
7. Is Immunology a prerequisite for any dental schools?
No, Immunology is not a prerequisite for any dental schools, but several recommend it. If you have an interest or have taken a course in Immunology, you should include it in your application. Better yet, you could apply to schools that highlight it as a recommended course. Rather than trying to fulfill every requirement for schools that are a poor fit, look for ones that align with your existing qualifications.
8. Is Calculus a prerequisite for any dental schools?
Yes, Calculus is required by 5.7% of dental schools. Mathematics and Statistics/Biostatistics are required by 11.4% of dental schools.
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