Making your List of Dental Schools

Most dental school applicants have a few schools that they are sure that they want to apply to. Beyond those, the list too frequently gets filled out with schools that an applicant has heard of but knows little about. However, since a well-balanced list of schools can increase your chances of admission to dental school the list should be compiled systematically.

First, determine the approximate number of schools you will be applying to. Ten to twelve is a good range and it is enough to allow an applicant the opportunity to try for some reach schools, without sacrificing the number of safety schools on the list. If you live in a state where admission to the state school is highly competitive, or lacks a state school entirely, then you should aim for the higher end in terms of numbers. At the same time, keep the number to one that is manageable as many schools require secondary applications that involve essays or responses to multiple questions.

Divide your list into three groups: reach schools, mid-tier schools and safety schools. The definition of a mid-tier school varies from applicant to applicant. Research the schools and determine how your GPA and DAT scores match against those of recent entering classes to you establish which schools will be in your mid-tier. Next, select some schools at which you would be considered a stronger applicant and a few that would be a reach for you but to which you would be thrilled to be admitted. The ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools is an excellent source of information about the dental schools and their statistics and can be purchased at http//

If you live in a state that does not have a public dental school, check to see if you are eligible to participate in WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) or another coalition that allows qualified state residents to receive preference in admission (and resident tuition rates) at participating schools. You can read more about the WICHE Professional Student Exchange Program at

For public schools located outside of your home state, focus on those schools that have classes comprised of a minimum of 30% out-of-state residents, and of course, an even higher percentage is better. In addition, for dental schools outside of your state of residence, focus on private schools. Because they are not state-supported, these schools generally do not give preference to state residents. However, even for a private school, it can help if you have a connection to the state or school that will help to demonstrate your interest in attending that particular dental school.

Finally, keep an open mind. All dental schools in the U.S. are highly selective and you will receive the training you need to become a practicing dentist at any of them, which after all, is the ultimate goal.

For experienced advising on your dental school application, contact us at (626) 768-2154 or for a free 20 minute phone consultation.

1 thought on “Making your List of Dental Schools”

  1. Dear Dr Eaton :
    i am an international student , just finish my high school ,and will join an English center at Central Florida , i want to applay for dentals school ,my question , do i need to spend a 4 years science before i admit in the dental school,or thier is a dental program which include the science subject ? and which universities you advise for easy acceptance for the international students .?
    thank you very much

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