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Dentistry: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best major for dental school?

Dental schools do not require a particular major, but a majority of dental school students degrees in a science area. By the nature of the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), which is mostly Biology and Chemistry, students tend to major in one of those disciplines. At the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, roughly 80% of the students have a degree in Biology, 15% in Chemistry and 5% in a nonscience area.

What undergraduate courses are required for admittance to dental school?

Dental school undergraduate course requirements differ from school to school. Check the dental programs you are interested in for specific requirements. The University of Mississippi School of Dentistry requires the following math and science courses:

  • 2 courses in behavioral science
  • 2 courses in biology
  • 2 courses in inorganic chemistry
  • 2 courses in organic chemistry
  • 1 course in advanced chemistry or biology
  • 2 courses in physics
  • 2 courses in mathematics (algebra, trigonometry) or 1 course in calculus.
  • 1 course in statistics

Do I have to graduate from college to get into dental school?

No, you do not have to have a college degree to start dental school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. However, 90% of those students have a bachelor's degree. Other dental schools do require a degree. Check with the schools that you are interested in for specific requirements. The minimum requirements at the University of Mississippi Medical Center are 3 years of college totaling a minimum of 90 semester hours. It is possible to complete your bachelor's degree at MC upon completion of your first year in dental school.

What kind of courses will I be taking in dental school?

Dental school is 4 years, of which the first two you will take a combination of science courses and practical courses having to do with dentistry. Your third and fourth years are a combination of practical and clinical courses. At the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry you will be taking the following science courses (practical dentistry courses have been omitted from the list below):


  • Human Gross Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Histology
  • Human Neuroanatomy


  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology

Third & Fourth years:
Clinical and practical courses

What kind of board exams will I take during dental school?

At the end of your second year, you will take the National Board Dental Exam Part I. The exam covers all of the basic science course work that you took the first two years of dental school. You must pass this exam in order to enter your third year of dental school. In the spring of your fourth year, you will take the National Broad Dental Exam Part II, which covers clinical information. Graduation from dental school is contingent upon passing this exam. You will not be licensed to practice dentistry upon graduation. In the month of June following graduation you will take the Mississippi State Board Exam. This is a practical exam where your clinical skills will be assessed by other dentists. Upon successful completion of this exam, you will be a licensed dentist in the state of Mississippi.

What is the DAT and what subject matter does it cover?

The DAT is the Dental Admissions Test and is a requirement for admission to dental school. You should take this exam during your junior year. It is about 4 hours, 30 minutes long. It can be taken by computer at any time and has four parts:

  • Natural Science: Biology and Chemistry
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Perceptive Ability

How do I register for the DAT?

Candidates who are applying for the DAT must submit the application form and fee payment to the Dental Admission Testing Program. Registration packets can be ordered online or obtained from Dr. Stan Baldwin. After the application and fee payments are processed, the Sylvan registration center will receive notification of the candidate's eligibility for DAT testing. The candidate will receive instructions to call an 800-number to register with Sylvan for the DAT. By calling the 800-number, candidates will be able to schedule to take the DAT at the location of their choice. Sylvan testing centers require at least a 48-hour advance notice for scheduling a test. Candidates are eligible for a 12 month period. If candidates do not register during this period, they will have to resubmit an application and payment of fees in order to take the DAT examination.

For more information about the DAT and its content, visit their web site: Dental Admission Test

Contact the American Dental Association:
Department of Testing Services
American Dental Association
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
(800) 621-8099 or (312) 440-2500

How many times can I take the DAT?

There is no limit for taking the DAT. The admissions committee at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry will only consider your highest score.

What kind of GPA and DAT score do I need to have to get into dental school?

The average cumulative GPA of a student attending the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry is about 3.6 with a science/math GPA of 3.5. The average DAT scores of those students are about 17 in each of the subcategories of the DAT except the verbal reason subcategory, which is a 22.

How do I get letters of recommendation for dental school?

Letters of recommendation are handled by Beverly Taylor.

What is the application deadline for dental school?

The University of Mississippi Dental School accepts applications from July 1 to December 1 the year prior to admission. All supporting materials to complete the application must be filed by February 1 the year of enrollment. Accepted applicants must respond within two weeks of their acceptance notification.

What nonacademic things would help me?

Real-world experience with a dentist would be significantly beneficial in the admission process.

How many years do I have to train from the time I begin dental school before I can start my own practice?

You can start your practice upon completion of four years of dental school and passing the state board exam.

What kind of salary do dentists make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the yearly median pay for dentists in 2012 was $149,310.

Can I specialize in dentistry?

Yes, there are subspecialties such as orthodontics and oral surgery. These specialties require additional training and board exams. Orthodontics is a 3-year residency and oral surgery is usually a 5- to 6-year residency. The length of residency programs varies among schools.

What is the AADSAS?

The AADSAS is the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service. This organization handles the dental school application process. For more information, visit their web site: American Association of Dental Schools Application Service. Fifty of the 55 Dental schools in the United States participate with AADSAS. The following schools do not participate with AADSAS:

  • University of Mississippi
  • Louisiana State University
  • Medical College of Georgia
  • University of Tennessee
  • Northwestern University