How Hard Is It to Get Into Dental School?

June 12, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/25/24

Keep reading to learn how hard it is to get into dental school. This guide will help you out.

Entering dental school is a formidable challenge that demands a unique blend of academic prowess, practical skills, and unwavering determination. The path to becoming a dentist is arduous, requiring prospective students to navigate a competitive admissions landscape.

High grades alone are not enough; candidates must also showcase their commitment to the field through relevant extracurricular activities, research, and hands-on experiences. Moreover, the Dental Admission Test (DAT) adds another layer of complexity, evaluating candidates' scientific knowledge, perceptual ability, and quantitative reasoning skills. 

This article delves into the multifaceted challenges that aspiring dentists face on their journey to gaining admission to dental school and explores strategies to navigate this demanding path successfully.

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Acceptance Rates in Dental Schools

Aspiring dental students embark on a challenging journey, where the pursuit of admission to dental school is marked by fierce competition. One crucial metric that reflects the intensity of this quest is the acceptance rate into dental programs. 

The accompanying chart provides a visual insight into the reality of how difficult it is to secure a spot in dental school. These acceptance rates encapsulate the culmination of academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, and performance on standardized tests, all of which weigh heavily in the fiercely competitive selection process. 

The figures serve as a testament to the rigorous standards set by dental schools, leaving prospective candidates with a clear understanding of the steep climb that lies ahead on their path to becoming future oral healthcare professionals.

School Acceptance Rate
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor 6.7%
University of California - San Francisco 6.44%
Harvard University 3.18%
University of Washington 10.08%
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 5.43%
New York University 11%
University of Pennsylvania 6.1%
University of Maryland, Baltimore 6.68%
University of California, Los Angeles 6.36%
Ohio State University, Columbus 12.55%

As you can see from the chart, only two of the ten selected schools even break a 10% acceptance rate, showing how truly selective the top dental schools can be. 

Use our dental school acceptance calculator to determine your chances of acceptance at a top school!

GPA and DAT Averages in Dental Schools

Entering the realm of dental education requires a passion for oral health and a stellar academic foundation. As we delve into the intricacies of gaining admission to dental school, this chart on average GPA and DAT scores serves as a compass through the challenging landscape of dental school admissions. 

These key metrics provide a comprehensive snapshot of the academic prowess demanded by dental programs. The average GPA reflects the scholastic excellence expected of aspiring dentists, while the DAT scores gauge their aptitude in critical areas. 

Navigating the dual challenges of achieving a high GPA and excelling on the DAT is an integral part of the journey towards securing a coveted spot in dental school. This chart not only sheds light on the standards set by dental institutions but also offers prospective students valuable insights into the academic hurdles that define the competitive nature of the admissions process.

School DAT GPA
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor 20.9 3.65
University of California - San Francisco 21.8 3.57
Harvard University 23.5 3.85
University of Washington 21.2 3.64
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 20.9 3.56
New York University 21.1 3.49
University of Pennsylvania 21.9 3.68
University of Maryland, Baltimore 20.8 3.56
University of California, Los Angeles 22.8 3.75
Ohio State University, Columbus 20.3 3.62

As you can see from the above chart, it would be very difficult to get into a dental school without a GPA of at least a 3.5, though some schools have an average a little lower. As with the DAT, the average DAT does not drop below 20. 

It is important to note this is only a selection of schools across the United States and not all dental schools available. 

Cost of Attending Dental Schools

This chart on dental school tuition serves as a guide to the economic landscape of dental education. Understanding the financial investment required is essential for those aspiring to join the ranks of oral healthcare professionals. 

By delving into these figures, prospective students can gain a comprehensive perspective on the financial commitments associated with dental education, offering a nuanced understanding of the multifaceted journey to becoming a dentist.

School Tuition
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor $46,721
University of California - San Francisco $11,442
Harvard University $69,300
University of Washington $56,530
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill $17,804
New York University $98,892
University of Pennsylvania $86,448
University of Maryland, Baltimore $24,330
University of California, Los Angeles $47,360
Ohio State University, Columbus $43,755

While the tuition may vary greatly from state to state, access to financial aid will make a great impact on the affordability of certain dental schools depending on your situation.

Common Mistakes in Dental School Applications

Late AADSAS submissions can harm dental school chances due to competition and rolling admissions. Mediocre personal statements and incorrect applications risk credibility and detail. 

Inadequate interview prep and selection in unfit dental schools further jeopardize admission, along with lacking relevant experience essential for showcasing commitment and understanding of dentistry.

By addressing these pitfalls head-on, we aim to empower aspiring dentists with the knowledge needed to enhance the quality of their applications and increase their chances of standing out in the competitive admissions process.

Late Submission of the AADSAS Application

The punctual submission of the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) application is a critical factor that significantly influences the likelihood of gaining admission to dental school. Dental school admissions are highly competitive, and late submissions can detrimentally impact an applicant's prospects. 

Admissions committees typically operate on rolling admissions, meaning that they review and accept candidates on an ongoing basis. Therefore, submitting an application after the deadline may result in fewer available spots and increased competition for those remaining. 

Additionally, late applications may raise concerns about an applicant's organizational skills, commitment, and understanding of the application process. 

Adhering to deadlines is not only a demonstration of professionalism but also a crucial aspect of showcasing one's dedication to pursuing a career in dentistry. Aspiring dental students should prioritize timely submissions to maximize their chances of success in this competitive and time-sensitive application process.

Writing a Mediocre Personal Statement

Crafting an exceptional personal statement is a pivotal component of the dental school application process, and submitting a mediocre one can significantly diminish one's chances of securing admission. The personal statement serves as a unique opportunity for applicants to showcase their individuality, motivations, and commitment to the field of dentistry. 

A lackluster statement may fail to captivate the attention of admissions committees and can be perceived as a missed opportunity to distinguish oneself from other candidates. A mediocre personal statement might lack clarity, passion, or fail to convey a genuine understanding of the profession. 

Admissions committees seek applicants who can articulate a compelling narrative, demonstrating not only a strong academic background but also a profound dedication to dentistry. 

Therefore, investing time and effort into crafting a compelling and impactful personal statement is essential for prospective dental students aiming to stand out in a competitive applicant pool and increase their chances of admission.

Submitting an Wrong ADEA AADSAS Application

Submitting an incorrect ADEA AADSAS (American Dental Education Association Associated American Dental Schools Application Service) application can have profound repercussions on an applicant's chances of gaining admission to dental school. 

The application is a comprehensive representation of an individual's academic achievements, experiences, and aspirations, and errors or inaccuracies can undermine the credibility of the entire submission. 

Providing incorrect information, such as academic records or extracurricular activities, may raise concerns about an applicant's attention to detail and accuracy. Admissions committees prioritize candidates who exhibit precision and responsibility, essential qualities for future dental professionals. 

It is crucial for applicants to thoroughly review and verify the accuracy of their ADEA AADSAS application to ensure that it aligns seamlessly with their academic and professional narrative, thereby maximizing their chances of making a favorable impression on the rigorous selection process for dental school admission.

Inadequate Preparation for Dental School Interviews

Inadequate preparation for dental school interviews can significantly diminish an applicant's chances of gaining admission. Interviews serve as a crucial component of the selection process, offering an opportunity for candidates to showcase not only their academic competence but also their interpersonal skills, ethical reasoning, and passion for the field of dentistry. 

A lack of preparation may lead to nervousness, difficulty articulating thoughts coherently, or an inability to effectively communicate personal and professional motivations. Admissions committees seek individuals who not only possess the requisite knowledge but also demonstrate qualities such as empathy, communication skills, and a genuine commitment to patient care. 

A timely preparation for dental school interviews can help an applicant's ability to convey these essential attributes, ultimately impacting their overall impression on the interviewers and, consequently, their likelihood of securing a coveted spot in dental school. 

Aspiring dental students should invest time in honing their interview skills, researching common questions, and practicing responses to present themselves as well-rounded, capable candidates during this critical phase of the admissions process.

Selecting The Wrong Dental Schools

Choosing the right dental school is a pivotal decision that significantly influences one's academic and professional journey. Opting for a dental school that is not well-suited to an individual's goals, preferences, or learning style may have adverse effects on their overall experience and, consequently, their chances of success. 

The wrong fit may lead to dissatisfaction with the curriculum, faculty, or facilities, impacting academic performance and hindering the development of essential clinical skills. 

Furthermore, dental schools often have unique emphases, specialties (such as anesthesiologist or hygienist), and approaches to teaching, making it crucial for applicants to align their aspirations with the strengths of the chosen institution. 

A misalignment in values, teaching methodologies, or program offerings could affect how hard is dental school. Ultimately, selecting the wrong dental school may affect an applicant's ability to thrive academically and fully engage in the learning process, potentially influencing their future prospects within the dental profession. 

Aspiring dentists should carefully research and consider the factors that contribute to a positive and productive educational environment when making this critical decision. 

Not Having Relevant Experience

The absence of relevant experience can substantially impact an individual's prospects of gaining admission to dental school. Dental programs seek candidates who possess a well-rounded understanding of the profession, and hands-on experience provides invaluable insights into the daily demands and challenges of dental practice. 

Lacking exposure to clinical settings, community service, or research opportunities can make an applicant appear less prepared or informed about the realities of the field. Relevant experience not only showcases a candidate's commitment to dentistry but also hones essential skills, including communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. 

Furthermore, dental schools often prioritize applicants with a demonstrated understanding of patient care and a genuine passion for the profession. Therefore, aspiring dental students should actively seek out opportunities for internships, volunteer work, or research to enhance their application and demonstrate a proactive commitment to a career in dentistry.


Here are a few common questions on how hard is it to get into dental school.

1. What GPA Do You Need to Get Into Dental School?

Aim for a GPA of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale to increase your chances of getting into dental school. However, remember that admissions are holistic, so other factors like test scores, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and personal statements are also important.

2. Is It Harder to Get Into Dentistry or Med School?

The difficulty of gaining admission to dental school versus medical school depends on various factors. Both paths are highly competitive, demanding academic excellence, relevant experiences, and a commitment to healthcare. 

However, medical school typically requires a broader knowledge base encompassing internal medicine, surgery, and various medical specialties, while dental school focuses specifically on oral health and dental procedures.

3. Which Dental School Is Easiest to Get Into?

The easiest dental schools to get into are often perceived to be Lincoln Memorial University, University of Utah, and New York University.

4. What Is the Lowest GPA to Get Into Dental School?

The lowest GPA generally considered for dental school admission is around 3.0, but successful applicants often have higher GPAs. Dental schools also evaluate other factors like DAT scores, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and relevant experiences. 

Prospective students should research each dental school's specific requirements to prepare a strong application.

In Conclusion

The journey to gain admission to dental school is undeniably challenging, requiring a combination of academic excellence, extracurricular engagement, and a demonstrated commitment to healthcare. The competitive nature of dental school admissions necessitates meticulous preparation, resilience, and a genuine passion for dentistry. 

While the challenges are formidable, they also serve as a testament to the high standards set by dental schools in shaping the future generation of healthcare professionals. Ultimately, the how hard is it to get into dental school is a promise of a fulfilling career dedicated to the service of others.

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