The dental school application process takes nearly a full year to complete. Therefore, excellent planning and organization are essential. The dental school application timeline below lists the steps and schedule of the application process to help keep you on track.
Staying on schedule is especially important because most dental schools have rolling admissions. Rolling admissions means that applications are evaluated as they are received. Many schools begin interviewing in August or September and fill much of their class on or near December 1. As spots in the class fill up, it becomes more difficult to gain admission.
To start, you need to know some basic information about how the dental school application process works.
There are two separate centralized application services for U.S. dental schools:
AADSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service)
TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service) – For public dental schools in Texas.
In addition to submitting a primary application through one of these services, most dental schools require a supplemental (“secondary”) application. The final step in the application process is an interview.
Here is a timeline for applicants who plan to enter dental school in fall 2024:
- Become familiar with the application process. Good sources of information are the AADSAS and TMDSAS sites and your pre-health advisor.
- Gather information about dental schools. The ADEA Dental School Explorer is updated each spring and is available for purchase at the ADEA site: https://dentalschoolexplorer.adea.org/.
- Check to make sure that you are on track to complete the prerequisite courses for dental school.
- Find out if your undergraduate institution offers a prehealth committee letter and the process for obtaining one. If your school does not have a committee letter, check with the dental schools you plan to apply to regarding their requirements for letters of reference, as they vary from school to school.
- Continue to gain dental experience, community service, and/or research experience throughout the next year.
- Request letters of recommendation from faculty and dentists individually, or obtain a committee letter per your undergraduate institution’s protocol. Note that the letters cannot be uploaded to the application services until May. However, it is still important to ask early as some letter writers only write letters for a particular number of applicants and may fill up. This is especially true of science professors.
- Register for the DAT. Information regarding the DAT can be found at the American Dental Association (ADA) site https://www.ada.org/en/education-careers/dental-admission-test. Register 60 to 90 days prior to your planned test date.
- Prepare for and take the DAT. Aim to take the test in late spring or early summer. If the summer is needed for preparation, take the test by early August.
- AADSAS applications become available online on May 9 but may not be submitted until the cycle opens on May 30.
- The TMDSAS cycle opens in early May.
- Submit transcripts to AADSAS and/or TMDSAS after spring grades have posted. Submit transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended.
- Note: some schools have secondary application questions within the AADSAS application in the “Program Materials” section. Those questions must be completed at the time AADSAS is submitted to those schools.
- Sign up for Casper. Casper is a situation a situational judgement test required by some dental schools. Registration is through Acuity Insights (formerly Altus Assessments) at https://takealtus.com/
- Take Casper in May if time allows. If not, take by the end of June so schools have your results early in the cycle.
- Take DAT if you have not already done so.
- Take Casper if you have not done so already.
- Late June – schools that do not have supplemental applications within the AADSAS application begin sending secondaries to applicants.
- Take or retake the DAT if needed.
- Take Casper if needed.
- Continue to receive supplemental applications from schools.
- Some schools begin inviting applicants for interviews in late July or August.
- Continue to interview at dental schools.
- Dental schools may begin offering admission to applicants on December 1.
- Some schools send additional interview invitations in early to mid-January. Interviews are complete at many schools in January or February, although some schools continue into early spring.
- Update schools you are waitlisted at to inform them of new accomplishments
- Stay in contact with schools you’re waitlisted at to express ongoing interest and provide updates of new accomplishments.
- Begin dental school!