Skip to main content


Profession Overview

Dentists typically do the following:

  • Remove decay from teeth and fill cavities

  • Repair cracked or fractured teeth and remove teeth

  • Place sealants or whitening agents on teeth

  • Administer anesthetics to keep patients from feeling pain during procedures

  • Prescribe antibiotics or other medications

  • Examine x rays of teeth, gums, the jaw, and nearby areas in order to diagnose problems

  • Make models and measurements for dental appliances, such as dentures, to fit patients

  • Teach patients about diets, flossing, the use of fluoride, and other aspects of dental care

Important Qualities:

  • Communication skills: Dentists must have excellent communication skills. They must be able to communicate effectively with patients, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and receptionists.

  • Detail oriented: Dentists must be detail oriented so that patients receive appropriate treatments and medications. They also must pay attention to the shape and color of teeth and to the space between them. For example, they may need to closely match a false tooth with a patient’s other teeth.

  • Dexterity: Dentists must be good at working with their hands. They work with tools in a limited area.

  • Leadership skills: Most dentists work in their own practice. This requires them to manage and lead a staff.

  • Organizational skills: Strong organizational skills, including the ability to keep accurate records of patient care, are critical in both medical and business settings.

  • Patience: Dentists may work for long periods of time with patients who need special attention. Children and patients with a fear of dental work may require a lot of patience.

  • Physical stamina: Dentists should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as bending over patients for long periods.

  • Problem-solving skills: Dentists need strong problem-solving skills. They must evaluate patients’ symptoms and choose the appropriate treatments.


Required Coursework

Required Coursework

The chart below is a list of common pre-dental requirements and the Emory course equivalents. The course prerequisites vary across programs. This list does not include all courses that may be required by dental schools. Additionally, schools have differing policies for accepting AP/IB credits to fulfill prerequisites.  Students are responsible for verifying the prerequisite coursework and policies of the schools to which they plan to apply.

Helpful resources include ASDA’s Guide for Predental Students, ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools, and individual school websites.

Dental School Prerequisite Chart

This list was last updated in July 2017. Prerequisite chart is not an all-inclusive list.

*If you use AP credit for Biol 141, you must still take the Biol 141 Lab.  

+Almost all dental schools in Texas require 2 full years of biology coursework (not counting Biochemistry). Additionally, some Texas medical schools will only accept courses in the English department to fulfill the English requirement. If you are a Texas resident, please check the TMDSAS website for more information:

++ Anatomy and Physiology:

  • The traditional Human Anatomy and Physiology with lab course sequence is not offered in the College. Students may be permitted to take this sequence in the Emory School of Nursing, with permission from the SON (availability is not guaranteed).  
  • Visit the ASDA Program Directory to determine what type of Anatomy and Physiology courses are required for admission for each school.

If one of the prerequisite courses you need to take is not offered in the College, the ARCHE Cross Registration program is an available option.

 Please contact your pre-health advisor if:

  • You have questions about using your AP/IB credit
  • You began Chemistry coursework at Emory prior to Fall 2017 and have questions about how to proceed
  • You transferred to Emory and have questions about prerequisite coursework taken at your previous institution.
  • You have questions about taking a course through the ARCHE program.

Entrance Exam

Dental Admission Test (DAT)

Students are required to the read the DAT Guide before submitting an application to test.

Length: 4 hours and 30 minutes

Sections: There are four sections - Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning

Cost: The registration fee is $445 which includes the exam and scores sent to the dental schools listed during registration. Sending scores to additional schools after the initial DAT application costs $36 each. Requests for ADA Partial Fee Waivers can be made starting on January 1 and applicants should apply ASAP.

Scores: Scores range from 1-30.

DAT Prep Resources: There are a variety of DAT prep resources, each differing in both cost and teaching style. The PHMO does not endorse any specific test prep resource, but we encourage you to explore each of the different options to determine which will best fit your needs.  

The PHMO does not endorse any specfic preparation program or company.

School Selection

School Selection

Number of schools: Students typically apply to between 8-12 dental schools.

Factors to consider:

  • Location I: Students have the best chance of admission at the public dental schools in their state of residency. Out side of your in-state school(s), consider private schools and other state public schools that accept a reasonable number of out-of-state residents. 
  • Location II: Urban vs. rural setting, proximity to family, recreational opportunities, cost of living, etc.
  • Mission Statements: You should look for schools with mission statements that fit with your own goals.
  • Curriculum: Seek out information about the curriculum and consider how it fits with your learning style.
  • Cost: Consider tuition and type of financial aid available

Additional resources for school selection:


Primary Applications

Applications for both AADSAS and TMDSAS are reviewed on a rolling basis. We recommend applying as early in the cycle as possible. For additional information on Centralized Application Services, see the "Apply" section of the PHMO website.

  • Centralized Application Service: AADSAS - Associated American Dental School Application Service
  • Number of Participating Schools: 67 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico
  • Cost: $245 which includes one dental school designation. Each additional school is $99.
  • Fee Assistance? Yes, through the AADSAS Fee Assistance Program, which includes a waiver for all AADSAS fees for the first 3 dental school designations on your application. 
  • Personal Statement Prompt: “In your personal statement, you will explain why you want to pursue a dental career.” 4,500 character limit
  • Application Timing: Students will apply in the summer of the year preceding their planned matriculation. The AADSAS application opens in early June.

Texas residents must apply to public Texas dental schools through the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). Non-Texas residents may apply to Texas public schools through AADSAS. TMDSAS opens in May and costs a flat fee of $150. For additional information on TMDSAS see the TMDSAS Website and the TMDSAS Applicant Manual.

Secondary Applications

Over half of the AADSAS participating schools require a secondary application. Information on each school's requirement is listed on the primary application. Required information may include a high school transcript, photo, fee, additional essays, and possibly other information (it varies widely by school).  Some schools may allow their secondary application materials to be submitted directly through the AADSAS application, while others may request this material at a later time. Applicants should check the primary application to determine what secondary material is required. For more information, see the AADSAS Supplemental Information page.


Recommendation Letters

Recommendation Letters

Dental schools typically require between 3-4 recommendation letters. The PHMO typically recommends at least one of your letters be from a science faculty member and one be from a PI or research supervisor (if you participated in research). The other letters should be made up of professional references who can write compellingly about your personal qualities that will contribute to a successful career in dentistry. Some schools may require a letter of recommendation from a dentist. Students should check each school's requirements to ensure you have the required letters.

AADSAS allows you to submit up to four letters. Individual dental schools also sometimes ask for additional letters of evaluation separate from the AADSAS application. A Composite Letter counts as 3 recommendation letters in AADSAS, regardless of the number of individual letters attached to the Composite Letter.

If you are applying to dental school and you are a current Emory student or an alumni who graduated from Emory within the last two years, you may be eligible to apply for a Composite Letter. Composite Letters are strongly recommended, although not required, for dental schools.



After submitting the primary application, and secondary applications where required, students may receive interview offers any time between August-April in the year preceding matriculation. The interview is one of the most important elements in the healthcare professions application process.  When a school invites you to an interview, they are indicating an interest in selecting you. The interview gives both of you the opportunity to exchange information to determine if you are a good “fit” for each other.

Dental schools require personal interviews with applicants to assess qualities such as self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and ability to overcome challenges. Be prepared to discuss why you wish to pursue a career in dentistry and the experiences that have motivated you.