The ADEA Educational Research and Analysis (ADEA ERA) portfolio published applicant and enrollee results, U.S. Dental School Applicants and Enrollees, 2011 and 2012 Entering Classes, in the December 2013 Journal of Dental Education (JDE), an update to the Applicant Trends report. It presents data on the demographic composition and academic preparation of applicants, first-time enrollees and total first-year enrollees during these two application cycles.
In the report examining the application cycles, the total number of applicants remained fairly stable, at 12,039 for 2011–12 and 12,077 for 2012–13. The majority (more than 60%) of applicants and first-time, first-year enrollees received an undergraduate degree in the biological and biomedical sciences.
The 2012 applicants to first-time enrollees ratio was 2.2, reflecting a continued decrease from a high of nearly 3.0 applicants per first-time enrollee in 2007. The decrease is largely due to the expanding enrollment base resulting from the opening of four new dental schools in 2011 and 2012 and the expansion of class size at a number of existing schools. The enrollment in 2012 (5,483) was a 3.2% increase over the 2011 (5,311) enrollment.
Findings also indicate reduced gaps by gender in dental school applicants and enrollees. First-time enrollment rate for women in 2012 is 47.0%, a slight increase from 46.6% in 2009. Overall applicant rate for women in 2012 is 47.8%.
By contrast, the percentage of underrepresented minority (URM) applicants and enrollees increased only slightly. In 2012, URM students—Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander—comprised 13.7% of the overall applicant pool. For the 716 URM applicants who enrolled in 2012, the enrollment rate increased from 39% in 2009 to 43%.
The results highlighted in this study have important implications for health professions education advisors, dental educators and members of the broader dental education community.