Since most dental schools have rolling admissions, applying early is important. As the cycle proceeds and spots in the class are filled, admission for the remaining spots can become more competitive. The entire application process takes nearly a full year to complete. By familiarizing yourself with the application process early on, you can develop a schedule for the many application-related tasks you will need to complete and submit a high-quality application early in the cycle.
There are two separate centralized application services for U.S. dental schools:
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 is an interview.
Here is a timeline for the 2021-2022 dental school admissions cycle to help you with your planning:
November – December 2020
- 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 Official Guide to Dental Schools is updated each spring and is available for purchase at the ADEA website.
- Check to make sure that you are on track to complete the pre-requisite courses for dental school.
- Find out if your undergraduate institution school offers a prehealth committee letter and the process for obtaining one. If your school does not have a committee letter, make sure that you 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, 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.
April – June 2021
- Register for the DAT. Information regarding the DAT may be found at the ADA website.
- Prepare for and take the DAT. Aim to take the test in late spring or early summer, if prepared. If the summer is needed for preparation, take the test by early August
- AADSAS applications become available online in mid-May but may not be submitted until the cycle opens around June 1.
- The TMDSAS cycle opens in early May.
July – September 2021
- Take or retake the DAT if needed.
- Complete secondary applications. (Note: some schools have secondary application question within the AADSAS application in the “Program Materials” section. Those must be completed at the time AADSAS is submitted to those 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. (For the 2019-2020 cycle this date was delayed to December 15 due to COVID-19).
- 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 about new accomplishments
- Stay in contact with schools you’re waitlisted at to express ongoing interest and provide updates of new accomplishments.
- Begin dental school!