Letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation, also known as letters of evaluation, are a required portion of the ADEA AADSASSM application. ADEA AADSAS allows you to submit up to four letters. Individual dental schools also sometimes ask for additional letters of recommendation separate from the ADEA AADSAS application.

Undergraduate institutions have different systems for completing letters of recommendation for students applying to dental school. It is important that you find out as early as possible what system your school uses so you can start forming strong relationships with potential evaluators early in your undergraduate career.  

Letter Types

  • Individual Letter: This is exactly what it sounds like—individual professors, advisors, dentists you have shadowed and other professionals qualified to recommend you for dental school write and submit their own individual letters of recommendation electronically (preferred) or by mail through ADEA AADSAS. Most dental schools require two letters from science professors, one from an advisor and one from a dentist.
  • Committee Letter: If your institution constructs committee letters in lieu of individual letters of recommendation, then it has a prehealth advising committee, or the advising office has constructed a committee, to discuss individual students and then write a combined letter of recommendation. 

    A committee letter counts as three letters of recommendation in the ADEA AADSAS application. Often, committees are comprised of five to 15 people. 

    If your institution does committee letters, you will likely be interviewed by some or all of the committee members before they write your letter. Larger institutions often do committee letters so they can ensure every student gets the thorough evaluation process required of submitting successful letters of evaluation to dental schools. The prehealth advisor on the committee often takes comments from all of the evaluators and is actually the one to write the letter based on the comments from the group.
  • Composite Letter: This is similar to the committee letter, but instead of the advisor ultimately writing the letter, a few people on the committee write notes and/or letters about you and then submit them to the advisor who then writes a cover letter for the packet based on the notes the committee members wrote about you. The composite letter also counts as three letters of recommendation in the ADEA AADSAS application.