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Academic Preparation

What you'll need

  • a Bachelor’s degree
    • any major is appropriate, so study something you love!
  • completion of prerequisite classes
    • vary from school to school
    • the most common classes are outlined below

Extracurricular Preparation

What you'll need

Experiences that develop and demonstrate skills in

  • communication
  • leadership
  • community service
  • research
  • familiarity with the dental profession

Extracurricular Activities

  • Make sure you have contact information for supervisors and physicians you work with or shadow in case you need a recommendation letter. Try to keep an open relationship with them after you discontinue activities.
  • Keep a record of all hours of service and experiences. The PreHealth Planner Spreadsheet can help with this.
  • Writing reflections on each activity in a journal will be helpful when you write your personal statement.

Community Service

Because you are preparing for a humanitarian profession, it is important to have volunteer experiences which demonstrate a commitment to service to others. This should be ongoing throughout your college years, not done for a time then discontinued.

Shadowing Dentists and Dental Experience

Dental experience is very important. It should be one of your first experiences. Observing a dentist in action will help you gather the information you need to fully commit to the profession and learn about a variety of dental specialties.

Competitive applicants complete 100-200 hours of shadowing and dental experience combined. Most students gain this experience by shadowing a general dentist for more than a semester. Consider taking BIOL 3080, Dental School Science and Lab Preparation, and 4080, Dental Observation, to structure your experience and earn course credit.

Research Experience

More and more dental schools recommend students to have research experiences because dentists depend on research literature in dentistry to remain current in the field throughout their entire careers. Your research experience does not have to be medically related or in a lab. It can be in any discipline as long as it is with a professor or other researcher and is hypothesis-based research using the scientific method.

Leadership Experience

As a dentist, you will be a leader and team member in many ways – with your patients, your staff, your colleagues, and in your community. Examples includes offices held in organizations, committee work; leadership in church activities; coordinating a project; managing, training, supervising at work or in other activities; teaching experience of any kind; peer counseling or mentoring, etc.

PreDental Coursework

This guide is designed for applying to a range of dental schools. It is not a comprehensive list. Requirements may vary by school so applicants should look closely at what is required at the schools at which they are applying. The following list indicates the most commonly classes required or recommended by dental schools in the west and the top ten schools that University of Utah graduates attend.  See a Preprofessional advisor for more information.

AP & IB Credit

Some dental schools will not accept AP or IB credits earned in high school towards the prerequisites so students with AP or IB credits in science or math should either take the introductory course or a higher level class in the appropriate area.

Community College Credits

Dental schools vary on their view of prerequisite classes taken at Community Colleges. Some accept them but look on them with some disfavor, other schools readily accept them.  Students should be aware of this when planning their education.

There are a number of very good reasons for students to begin their college education at a Community College, so we have some recommendations for those who wish to do so. In general it is okay to take the following classes at the Salt Lake Community College.  However, to satisfy schools who do not accept Community College work, higher level courses may have to be taken to make up for it.

  • MATH 1050 College Algebra and anything below
  • MATH 1060 Trigonometry
  • BIOL 1610 & 1615 and BIOL 1620 & 1625, General Biology 1 and 2 with labs, in place of BIOL 1210 and 2020 at the U of U
  • BIOL 2325 Human Anatomy
  • BIOL 2420 Human Physiology.
  • CHEM 1210 & 1215, and 1220 & 1225, General Chemistry 1 and 2 with labs.
  • ENGL 1010 and 2010

  • CLEP Credit & Correspondence Study—Not acceptable as part of the predental curriculum.
  • Online Courses—Online sections of semester based university classes, or online/in person hybrid sections of semester based classes will usually be accepted. Online courses which are not university semester based (independent study) will generally not be accepted.
  • Withdrawals—W’s should be used only for emergencies, although W’s will not affect your GPA.
  • GPAGenerally, the minimum GPA is around 3.0, but varies by schools and may be higher or lower. The average GPA for accepted applicants across all schools is 3.6 Total GPA and 3.5 for Science GPA
    • UUSD has no minimum GPA. Average GPA for accepted students: 3.74 Total, 3.66 Science
    • Roseman University has a minimum Science GPA of 3.0 in last 30 science credits, Average Total GPA for Accepted Applications: 3.40
  • Repeated Courses—All grades from ALL attempts at a class are counted in your GPA when you apply for dental school. (This is different from the U of U’s policy to only count the most recent attempt.)

Science Courses


The most dental schools require 1 year General Biology with labs

BIOL 1610, Fundamentals of Biology I (3 credits) Formerly BIOL 1210

BIOL 1620, Fundamentals of Biology II (3 credits) 

BIOL 2020 Cell Biology (3 credits) Prerequisites: BIOL 1210 or 1610 and CHEM 1210

Lab Requirement: Since 2 Biology labs are required by most dental schools, students can either the Anatomy OR Physiology lab to fulfill the first biology lab for most med schools. The second biology lab can be fulfilled by any biology course such as BIOL 1615, 1625, 3115, 3205, 3235, 3515, 3525 and more. Please note that many of these classes correspond to a class that must also be taken. Taking labs at Salt Lake Community College is also acceptable.

BIOL 2325, Human Anatomy (4 credits) Prerequisite BIOL 1210 or 1610 

The lab is included and fulfills one Biology lab for most dental schools

1 Semester Biochemistry

BIOL 3510 or CHEM 3510, Biochemistry I (3 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 2310

Recommended Prerequisites BIOL 2020 and CHEM 2320


BIOL 2420 Human Physiology (4 credits), Prerequisite BIOL 1210 or 1610 and CHEM 1210

DAT Prep, Required by UUSD

Microbiology:  Either of the following

BIOL 3210 Microbiology (3 credits) Lab 3215 (1 credit)

Prerequisites: BIOL 2020 & CHEM 1210


PATH 3100 Medical Microbiology (3 credits)

One of these is required by many Dental Schools including UUSD and Roseman

In order to take the proper math class, you must have ACT, SAT or math placement test scores, or successfully pass a prerequisite math course. Some students will need MATH 0980 and/or MATH 1010 before starting the PreDental Math sequence.


The most common requirement is College Algebra and Trigonometry. University of Utah students need to take Trigonometry even if it is not required because it is a prerequisite for the lowest Physics series accepted by dental school.

MATH 1050 College Algebra (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1010 or placement

MATH 1060 Trigonometry (3 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1050 or placement

MATH 1050 & 1060 can be substituted with MATH 1080 Precalculus (5 credits)


MATH 1210 Calculus I (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1060, 1080, or placement

Math 1070 Statistics (3 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1010 or placement.

Any other statistics course such as PSY 3000 or FCS 3210 can be substituted. Check with your major advisor.

Required by Most Schools

CHEM 1210 General Chemistry I (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1050, or higher math placement

Lab CHEM 1215 (1 credit)

CHEM 1220 General Chemistry II (4 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 1210

Lab CHEM 1225 (1 credit)

CHEM 2310 Organic Chemistry I (4 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 1220

Lab CHEM 2315 (2 credits)

CHEM 2320 Organic Chemistry II (4 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 2310

Lab CHEM 2325 (2 credits)

BIOL 3510 or CHEM 3510, Biochemistry I (3 credits) Prerequisite, CHEM 2310,

Recommended Prerequisites BIOL 2020 and CHEM 2320

Required by Most Schools

One year of Physics w/ labs required; students have two series to choose from. Algebra and Trig based Physics,or Calculus based Physics. 
Please consult with both your major and PPA advisor to determine the correct lecture and lab sequence.
  • PHYS 2010 General Physics I (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1060
    • Lab PHYS 2015 (1 credit)
  • PHYS 2020 General Physics II (4 credits) Prerequisite PHYS 2010
    • Lab PHYS 2025 (1 credit)


  • PHYS 2210 Physics for Scientists and EngineersI (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1210
    • Lab PHYS 2015 or2215 (1 credit)
  • PHYS 2220 Physics for Scientists and Engineers II (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1220 and PHYS 2210
    • Lab PHYS 2025 or 2225 (1 credit)

Non-Science Courses


  • 2 semesters of English Composition courses
  • WRTG 1010 (3 credits)
  • WRTG 2010 (3 credits) Prerequisite WRTG 1010
  • CW Requirement courses (3-4 credits) offered through either Writing or English department

Most dental schools require at least 1 Behavioral Science and 1 either Arts or Humanities course.


  • MATH 10 (non credit) Math Boot Camp for Intermediate Algebra, 1 week workshop offered the week before fall and spring semesters begin
  • MATH 15 (non credit) Math Boot Camp for Precalculus, 1 week review workshop offered the week before fall and spring semesters begin
  • CHEM 10 (non credit) Chemistry Boot Camp for General Chemistry, 5 hours per day 5 days per week for 2 weeks
  • CHEM 1200 (3 credits) Preparation for College Chemistry, Usually offered online. Check class schedule for more information
  • CHEM 1208 (1 credit) Introduction to the Periodic Table, Offered online between semesters for 2 weeks
  • CHEM 2308 (1 credit) Introduction to Organic Chemistry Offered online between semesters for 2 weeks.
  • PHYS 1500 (3 credits) Preparation for College Physics, Offered once a year. Check class schedule for more information


  • UGS 1030 Introduction to PreDental (1 credit) CR/NC

Offered only during the first half of Fall and Spring Semesters. Hear from practicing dental professionals, dental school students, and campus programs that can enhance your preparation for dental school

  • BIOL 3080 Dental School Science and Lab Preparation (4 credits) Prerequisite BIOL 1210

An overview of dental school and the profession. Dental Terminology, tooth morphology, materials, instrument handling.

  • BIOL 4080 Dental Observation (1-4 credits) Prerequisite BIOL 3080

Weekly chair-side observation with a local dentist, arranged by the student and Biology dept. A research paper and lab project are also required. (Not repeatable for credit)

Prepare for Letters of Recommendation

Types of Letters Needed


Requirements for letters vary between schools, so research schools early to know what you need. Plan ahead! Get to know people from these categories so they can write excellent letters for you. Dental schools generally require letters from the following:

  1. Science Professor
  2. Science / Non-Science Professor
  3. Dentist
  4. Dentist / Supervisor

Get to Know your Professors

During the Semester

Tell professors at the beginning of the semester that you would like them to keep an eye on your performance in class. It will give them a longer observational window.

Visit their offices regularly.

End of Semester

At the end of the semester, if you do well, ask them if they would be willing to write you an excellent letter of recommendation when you are ready to apply.

How to Establish a Relationship

A key to a good letter is the establishment of a relationship between student and professor based on shared academic interests.

  • Ask thoughtful questions
  • Delve deeper into concepts presented in lectures
  • Share your academic and career goals
  • Ask for recommendations for additional reading
  • Inquire about their areas of interest and research

Ask about Opportunities

After you have gotten to know professors, ask about further opportunities, e.g., teaching assistantships, individual research projects, etc.


Downloadable Resources

PreHealth PlannerKeep track of your activities, and your research on medical schools.


personal statement guidE

Student Groups

PreDental Society (PDS)-Helps establish social networks and helps pre-dental students get into dental school. Provides opportunities to provide community service.   

Future Women Dentists (FWD) -Encourages interest in dentistry as a career among women and provide a support network.

Last Updated: 8/21/23