How Many Dental Schools Should I Apply To?

March 4, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 3/4/24

If you’re wondering how many dental schools to apply to, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to learn what factors you should consider.

Deciding how many dental schools to apply to can feel overwhelming for a few reasons. Firstly, you've got to figure out the right mix of schools to increase your chances of acceptance. 

Then, there's the challenge of considering your academic qualifications, where you want to study, and how much you can afford. It's a lot to juggle. But don't worry; we’ll help you weigh all these factors and make the best decision for your future.

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How Many Dental Schools Should I Apply to? 

Typically, it's a good idea to apply to around 15 dental schools. Aim for a mix that includes two to four reach schools, where your GPA and DAT scores are slightly below their averages, and eight to 12 target schools, where your GPA and DAT scores align with what they're looking for. 

This approach gives you a solid chance of getting accepted while also ensuring you have options to choose from. 

Factors to Consider Before Deciding How Many Schools to Apply to

Now that you know how many dental schools to apply to, let's consider a few important factors.

Academic Qualifications

Before you decide which dental schools to apply to, make sure to thoroughly review your academic qualifications. Look beyond just your GPA and DAT scores; consider any extracurricular activities, research experiences, or relevant work/volunteer experiences you've had.

If your academic profile closely matches the average statistics of certain dental schools, you might feel comfortable applying to fewer schools. However, if your academic record is more average or slightly below average, it's wise to broaden your options and apply to a greater number of schools. This increases your chances of getting accepted.

Geographic Preferences

Consider where you want to study and practice dentistry. Do you have a specific city, state, or region in mind? Are you okay with moving anywhere for school, or do you have strong ties to a certain area?

If you're open to different locations, you might not need to apply to as many schools because you have more choices. But if you're set on a particular region, you might need to apply to more schools there to ensure you have enough options.

Financial Considerations

Applying to dental school can be expensive, with fees for applications, travel for interviews, and potential moving costs if you get accepted to multiple schools. Make sure to look at your finances and set a budget for applying. 

While it's important to apply to enough schools to increase your chances of getting accepted, it's also crucial not to spend more than you can afford.

Think about the value you'll get from each application and focus on schools that fit your academic and career aspirations. You can also explore options for financial aid or fee waivers to help ease the financial strain. By being mindful of your budget and prioritizing schools wisely, you can navigate the application process more effectively while managing your expenses.

Common Dental School Application Strategies

When applying to dental school, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. The strategies you employ depend on where you are in your journey towards dentistry. Whether you're a high school student, a college senior, or a nontraditional applicant, there are specific steps you can take to enhance your chances of acceptance.

High School Students

If you’re wondering ‘how many dental schools should I apply to,’ in high school, you’re ahead of the curve. It's never too early to start thinking about your future in dentistry. Take the initiative to explore the admissions process for dental school. Joining pre-dental clubs or participating in dental-related volunteer activities can provide valuable insights into the profession. 

By immersing yourself in these experiences early on, you can begin to cultivate a passion for dentistry and gain a better understanding of what it entails.

Freshman Year

Meeting with a health professions advisor during your freshman year can help set you on the right path. They can offer guidance on which biology or chemistry courses to take, laying the groundwork for your academic journey. 

Joining pre-dental clubs not only connects you with like-minded peers but also offers opportunities for networking, community service, and forming study groups. Additionally, taking the time to learn about careers in dentistry and understanding personal finance can provide a solid foundation for your future endeavors.

Freshman Year—Summer

The summer after your freshman year presents an excellent opportunity to further explore your interest in dentistry. Programs like SHPEP offer immersive experiences that can help solidify your commitment to pursuing a career in healthcare. 

Alternatively, working or volunteering in healthcare environments, especially dental offices, can provide firsthand exposure to the daily realities of the profession. These experiences can be invaluable as you continue to shape your academic and professional goals.

Sophomore Year

As you progress into your sophomore year, it's time to start thinking more seriously about your academic and extracurricular pursuits. Choosing a major aligned with your interests and the prerequisites for dental school is essential. 

Additionally, exploring summer opportunities such as internships or research projects can help you further develop your skills and gain valuable experience in the field. Active involvement in pre-dental clubs allows you to deepen your engagement with the dental community and take on leadership roles that showcase your commitment to the profession.

Sophomore Year—Summer

During the summer between your sophomore and junior years, continue to build on your experiences in the dental field. Whether through summer programs, internships, or volunteer work, seek out opportunities that allow you to gain hands-on experience and expand your knowledge of dentistry. 

At the same time, begin to consider the financial aspects of applying to dental school, including the costs associated with standardized tests, applications, and interviews.

Junior Year

Your junior year marks a critical stage in your journey to dental school. Completing prerequisite courses in biology and chemistry prepares you for the Dental Admission Test, a key component of the application process. 

Researching dental schools and creating a timeline for application submission ensures that you stay organized and on track. Meeting with advisors and visiting dental schools can provide valuable insights into the different programs available and help you make informed decisions about where to apply.

Junior Year—Summer

As you enter the summer before your senior year, it's time to take concrete steps toward applying to dental school. Submitting your ADEA AADSAS application early demonstrates your commitment and allows you to take advantage of rolling admissions. 

Engaging in summer experiences related to dentistry, such as internships or volunteer work, strengthens your application and provides additional opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Senior Year

In your senior year, prioritize finishing advanced science courses and getting ready for dental school interviews. Practicing mock interviews and honing your communication skills can impress admissions committees.

Start the financial aid application process to secure funding for your dental education. And don't forget to celebrate your achievements and get ready for graduation as you move forward in your academic and professional path.

Senior Year—Summer

The summer following your senior year is a time for reflection and preparation as you embark on the next chapter of your journey. Use this time to mentally and emotionally prepare for the rigors of dental school. 

Maintaining your reading and hand skills ensures that you're ready to hit the ground running when classes begin. Prioritizing your health and well-being allows you to enter dental school with a strong foundation and a positive mindset.

By following these steps and fully immersing yourself in the dental school application process, you can position yourself as a competitive applicant. Each stage of the journey offers opportunities for growth and development, ultimately paving the way for a rewarding career in dentistry.

Potential Risks of Over-Applying

Applying to dental school has risks like financial strain, spreading effort across many applications, and the chance of rejection. Before sending out multiple applications to dental schools, it's important to be aware of these drawbacks.

Financial Burden

Applying to numerous dental schools can put a strain on your finances. Each application comes with its own fee, and when you're sending out applications to a large number of schools, these costs can quickly add up. 

It's not just the application fees you need to consider. There are also additional expenses like travel for interviews that can significantly increase the financial burden. This can be particularly challenging if you're on a tight budget or have limited resources available for the application process.

There are a number of costs associated with applying to dental school that many students do not think about ahead of time. Make sure to set aside money to cover these expenses before you start the application process so you don’t find yourself in a bind later on.

ADEA AADSAS Application Fees

The ADEA AADSAS application fee for your first dental school is $264. Each additional school you apply to is $115. ADEA AADSAS does offer application fee assistance to those who demonstrate extreme financial need.

Dental School Supplemental Fees

Most dental schools require applicants to pay a supplemental fee. The fees vary by school, so check specific schools to determine their supplemental fees.


Keep in mind that if you secure an interview with a dental school, you may have to travel and stay in a hotel near the school. It is important to put aside funding for these visits because money is the last thing you want to worry about on the day of your dental school interview. 

Consider the cost of travel (plane, train, car), hotel, and food while you are interviewing. You may also have to purchase a suit for the interview if you do not already have one, so be sure to factor in that cost as well.


When you are accepted to a dental school and decide to attend, you will have to give the school a deposit to hold your spot in the first-year class. This deposit is often applied to your first-year tuition and is usually non-refundable, even if you decide last minute not to attend the school. These deposits tend to range from $500 to $2,000.

Dilution of Effort and Attention to Each Application

When you're applying to several dental schools, it's easy to spread yourself too thin and not give each application the attention it deserves. This happens when you're trying to do too much at once. 

To avoid this, focus on the schools that really fit you best and set achievable goals. Get feedback from others and stay organized to make sure each application gets the attention it needs.

Managing Potential Rejections

When it comes to potential rejections from dental schools, staying resilient is key. Rejections happen, but they're not the end of the road. Take them as opportunities to learn and grow. Seek feedback, consider other options, and lean on your support network. Keep your chin up and stay focused on your goal of getting into dental school.

How Hard Is It to Get Into Dental School?

Getting into dental school is challenging, with only around 40% of applicants getting accepted. You need great grades, strong recommendations, and good test scores to stand out, especially on the DAT. 

But it's not just about grades—dental schools also look for qualities like empathy and leadership. Applying early can boost your chances. It's a competitive process, but it's possible to succeed with hard work and the right preparation.


How many dental schools should I apply to? How challenging is it? Let’s answer these questions and more. 

1. Should I Apply to Multiple Dental Schools?

Yes, it's wise to apply to multiple dental schools. The process is competitive, so applying to various programs increases your chances of acceptance. Each school has different criteria, so applying to several gives you more options and a better chance of finding the right fit for you.

2. Is a 3.7 Good Enough for Dental School?

A GPA of 3.7 is generally considered competitive for dental school admissions. However, the average GPA needed can vary depending on the specific school and the number of applications they receive. Overall, getting into dental school is competitive, with some institutions requiring an average GPA of 3.4 or higher for incoming students.

3. How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting Into Dental School?

To improve your chances of getting into dental school, focus on academics, aim for a competitive GPA, and excel in standardized tests like the DAT. Get involved in dental-related extracurriculars, volunteer, shadow dentists, and build strong relationships with recommenders. Craft a compelling personal statement that showcases your passion for dentistry.

4. What GPA Should I Have for Dental School?

To be competitive for dental school, aim for a GPA of 3.5 or higher. 

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, deciding how many dental schools to apply to requires careful thought about your academic qualifications, location preferences, and financial situation. It's a good idea to aim for a mix of reach and target schools to boost your chances of acceptance while keeping your options open. 

However, be mindful of the potential downsides of applying to too many schools, like the financial strain and spreading yourself too thin. Stay resilient and focused on your goal of getting into dental school.

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