The application process

Remember, the application process does not start when you are about to fill out an application—it really begins when you made the decision to become a dentist.

This process will include researching the profession and dental schools, meeting with a prehealth advisor, completing prerequisite courses, engaging in extracurricular activities and understanding the pros and cons of the profession by spending time shadowing a dentist.

One key component of completing and submitting an application for dental school is that you are encouraged to do it early. Early submission assures sufficient time to obtain all supporting documents and allows you to correct any unidentified errors that may pop up later. Individuals planning to apply to dental school will do so one year before they wish to enter a dental program. 

The dental school application process involves many steps, but is made up of three key components that may vary slightly by dental school. 

1. Take the Dental Admission Test (DAT), or the Canadian Dental Aptitude Test (Canadian DAT) for Canadian dental schools.
The DAT is administered by the American Dental Association and you should contact them regarding the times that the test is offered and the locations.  All U.S. dental schools require the DAT and some will consider the Canadian DAT. You need to check the various schools to confirm if they will accept the Canadian DAT.

2. Submit an application to the ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSASSM).
To apply to most dental schools in the U.S., you must use the ADEA AADSAS. ADEA AADSAS collects, verifies and processes or delivers your application information to each of the schools you have chosen to apply to. It is important to note that ADEA AADSAS does not make admissions decisions; it is the responsibility of each individual school to make its own admissions decisions. The ADEA AADSAS opens around the first of the month in June. Individuals should check with each school they are interested in to find out the deadline date for the application. Deadline dates vary by school.

Note: Applicants wishing to apply to dental schools in Texas will use the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS).

3. Submit additional materials requested by each dental school.
There are a number of schools that seek additional information from applicants in the form of a secondary application. This is in addition to the ADEA AADSAS application and is sent directly to the school. For example, schools may seek information on work history, more specific information on shadowing experiences, etc. Often there is a fee associated with the secondary application, which will vary from school to school.

4. Participate in interviews.
The majority of dental schools require an interview be considered for entrance into a class. The process and timing will vary by school and can be in the form of one-on-one, group or multiple mini interviews. Usually they are conducted by members of the school’s admissions committee.