Dentist working on child's teeth.

Within the United States, there are two degrees awarded to those who complete dental school, DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry).  The difference in title is mainly historical, with some schools issuing DMD degrees and others DDS.  According to the American Dental Association (, “There is no difference between the two degrees; dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. Universities have the prerogative to determine what degree is awarded.”

Dental School Prerequisite Courses

In general most programs require:

  • One year of Biology with labs
  • One year of General Chemistry with labs
  • One year of Organic Chemistry with labs
  • One semester of Biochemistry
  • One year of Anatomy and Physiology with labs
  • One year of Physics with labs
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

Other coursework that may be beneficial:

  • Immunology
  • Sociology
  • Second semester of Biochemistry

Applying to Dental School

Dental Admission Test (DAT): Dental students may consider taking the DAT exam as early as the summer after their second year, but no later than spring of the year in which they apply. Applicants should take the DAT exam with enough lead time to allow score release early in June at the latest.  While the coursework leading to the DAT may be complete by the end of the second year, it is recommended that Butler students consult with a pre-health professions advisor to determine the best time for them to take the exam.

Letters of Recommendation:  Pre-dental students should be prepared to ask two science professors and one non-science professor for letters of recommendation.  AADSAS will generally have you submit four letters of recommendation, and while all four may come from professors, three from professors and one from a dentist you have extensively shadowed is also good.  Schedule a meeting with the professors to directly ask them to write the letters. Don’t just drop in as the request might get shuffled off and forgotten. Be intentional about asking.  Bring a list or short narrative of the work you completed in the classes taken under the professor. Professors see many students over the years and don’t always remember specific course assignments or course experiences like you will. Remind them of these experiences.  Provide an estimated date for submission of their letters. Give your professors enough time to write a thoughtful letter.

Shadowing and experiences:  With admissions into dental school becoming increasingly more competitive, it is important for students to set themselves apart from others by accumulating significant experience shadowing, volunteering, or clinical work.  Specifically, these hours should be within the dental field rather than the general medical or healthcare field.

Personal statement: A personal statement is a well thought out explanation of why dentistry is right for you based on the experiences that have led you to this conclusion.  Experiences from your life, work, research, or shadowing that are pertinent to explaining your call to dentistry need to be included as part of this statement.  Journaling is a convenient way of keeping track of formative experiences and their impact on you as they occur.  Additionally, students will need to exhibit proficiency in manual dexterity; consider how you can demonstrate your fine motor skills in essay format if asked (more information on this from the AEDA can be found here).

Application timeline:  Applications are submitted approximately one year prior to entrance into dental school. Applicants can begin to build their application in early May within the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS).  June 1 is the first day to submit a completed application. Texas applicants applying to Texas Dental Schools are required to utilize Texas Medical Dental Application Service.  Secondary applications begin to arrive in August or September of the that year and they must be completed and returned immediately.

Dental Schools Attended by Butler Graduates

Recent Butler graduates have attended the following Dental Schools:

  • A. T. Still Missouri University
  • Creighton University
  • Harvard University
  • Indiana University
  • Marquette University
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Midwestern University
  • New York University
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Tufts University
  • University of California San Francisco
  • University of Detroit Mercy
  • University of Illinois Chicago
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Louisville
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Utah