10 Top Dental Schools in the US 2024 - Ranking & Fees

July 10, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 7/10/24

Keep reading to learn more about the country’s top dental schools! 

In this comprehensive guide, we explore the top dental schools in the US, covering everything from the latest rankings to essential tips on selecting the right programs to apply to. We’ll outline what makes these institutions stand out, discuss key factors you should consider when choosing the best school for your career goals, and answer frequently asked questions about dental schools.

Let’s get started!

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Dental School Rankings in the US

1. Harvard School of Dental Medicine 

Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Ranking #3 Best National University
Acceptance Rate 2.34%
Average GPA 3.9
Average DAT Score 22
Tuition + Fees $71,030

Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HDSM) attracts research-oriented students with a drive to shape the future of dental medicine. Located in Boston, it offers Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) and Advanced Graduate Education (AGE) programs. 

The DMD curriculum introduces students to clinical dentistry from the very first year, starting with a primary care medical rotation that allows them to understand the relationship between oral and systemic health. The curriculum also features flipped classrooms and team-based activities to enhance the academic environment for modern learners.

After undergoing clinical medicine with medical students, predoctoral students go on to pursue additional years of interdisciplinary clinical science education at HSDM and affiliated institutions. HDSM students will have the opportunity to work with faculty members who are leaders in the field and access to state-of-the-art facilities and research institutes, including the Harvard Dental Center and other school-affiliated hospitals and clinics. 

2. The University of California–San Francisco School of Dentistry

UCSF School of Dentistry
Ranking #115 Best National l University
Acceptance Rate 2.8%
Average GPA 3.8
Average DAT Score 22.6
Tuition + Fees $57,587

The University of California–San Francisco’s School of Dentistry is one of the top dental schools in the US, known for its strong emphasis on research. It offers predoctoral and postdoctoral graduate degrees, and has pioneered many innovations in dentistry and oral health care. 

With extramural funds totaling about $34 million annually, the UCSF School of Dentistry carries out extensive research activities in areas including: 

  • Stem cell research, 
  • Oral/head and neck cancer, 
  • Health disparities and 
  • Craniofacial biology,  
  • Biomaterials/Bioengineering, 
  • Cell and tissue biology, 
  • Hard tissue biology 
  • AIDS

The DDS degree spans four years and covers a broad range of science, art, and technology in contemporary dental practice. During this period, you will learn procedural and clinical skills coupled with laser-focused critical thinking to prepare you for the future. 

3. Columbia University College of Dental Medicine

Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
Ranking #12 Best National University
Acceptance Rate 10%
Average GPA 3.7
Average DAT Score 23.4
Tuition + Fees $137,327

Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine is one of the best dental medicine colleges in the US. Students engage with a faculty of board-certified dental specialists, general practitioners, and researchers who are actively involved in clinical practice, research, and community service. These faculty bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the classroom, providing students with a holistic educational experience.

Columbia offers many opportunities to participate in research, global health initiatives, and collaborations with other institutions. Students will also have access to the university’s large collections of dental-related learning materials. At the end of your study, you have broad experience and can proffer solutions in the professional world.

4. The University of Michigan School of Dentistry

University of Michigan School of Dentistry
Ranking #21 Best National University
Acceptance Rate 5.6%
Average GPA 3.8
Average DAT Score 20.9
Tuition + Fees $97,838

The University of Michigan–Ann Arbor has one of the most competitive dental programs in the US. It requires a full-time, four-year commitment focusing on biomedical sciences and clinical care. Students have a wide range of clinical opportunities to work directly with patients to gain hands-on experience.

The School of Dentistry provides three options for those interested in dental hygiene to pursue either their Bachelor's or Master's of Science degree. Students have state-of-the-art equipment and technology to explore and expand their initiatives in dental medicine. Also, there is a healthy relationship among the students, faculty, and staff.

5. The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
Ranking #6 Best National University
Acceptance Rate 3.8%
Average GPA 3.92
Average DAT Score 24
Tuition + Fees $147,504

The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine is a leading dental school in Philadelphia, known for its clinical and research excellence. 

The four-year predoctoral DMD curriculum reflects a strong commitment to developing knowledge and skills in both oral science and oral health care. Students can streamline their education path to their professional interests and goals. 

While becoming a professional in dental medicine, you also improve individual interests and strengths. The DMD program also features dual-degree options in education, bioethics, law, bioengineering, public health, and business administration.

Penn Dental Medicine offers postgraduate training in dental specialty areas, including:

  • Master of Science in Oral Biology
  • Doctor of Science in Dentistry degrees
  • Master of Oral Health Sciences for both DMD track students and non-U.S.-trained dentists. 
  • Program for Advanced Standing Students for internationally-trained dentists.

6. The University of Washington School of Dentistry

University of Washington School of Dentistry
Ranking #40 Best National University
Acceptance Rate 8.65
Average GPA 3.75
Average DAT Score 21.2
In-State Tuition + Fees $105,932

The UW School of Dentistry has a faculty of 80 internationally recognized faculty members who train students in a supportive environment. UW has different categories within the school of dentistry, including endodontics, oral Health Sciences, oral medicine, pediatric dentistry, and more.

It is known for initiatives and programs in oral health research. UW offers an excellent education where you become well-rounded professionals who excel both professionally and personally. The pre-dental and postgraduate programs equip students to enter the field of dentistry and pursue a career that will enable them to make an impact in the dental field.

7. The University of Texas Health San Antonio School of Dentistry

UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry
Ranking #280 Best National University
Acceptance Rate 15%
Average GPA 3.75
Average DAT Score 17
Tuition + Fees $95,319

The UT Health San Antonio Dental School is internationally recognized for its programs and research in dentistry and has a long history of collaboration with universities from other countries to improve education, research, and dental care.

Located in San Antonio, it offers a range of 18 degrees, including a Doctor of Dental Surgery, Bachelor’s, online Master’s, postgraduate certificates, and international dental programs. The DDS program is a four-year study for students who want to practice dentistry or pursue other advanced education programs. 

With distinguished faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and extensive clinical experience, you are sure to excel in education, research, patient care, and community engagement in oral and dental health.

8. Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
Ranking #40 Best National University
Acceptance Rate 5.14%
Average GPA 3.42
Average DAT Score 20
In-State Tuition + Fees $110,044

At Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, students undergo a four-year training that makes them exceptional among their peers. They are trained to commit to quality, adapting to changes that may arise in the field of dentistry. 

Research at Tufts is comprehensive and collaborative. Faculty researchers engage students in their work and collaborate across departments and schools, aiming to enhance the overall quality of the healthcare system. 

In addition to research, students undergo clinical real-world experience. During this training, they learn how to care for the health of individuals and the community equitably and compassionately. 

9. The University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry

UCLA School of Dentistry
Ranking #15 Best National University
Acceptance Rate 1.32%
Average GPA 3.8
Average DAT Score 24
Tuition + Fees $113,584

UCLA’s School of Dentistry offers 13 accredited postgraduate training programs dedicated to teaching students how to become top-quality dentists.

The school gives students opportunities to work in free clinics, following the CBCE Community Based Clinical Education (CBCE). With a location in the heart of Los Angeles, dentistry students have access to a wide range of clinical experiences working with a diverse group of patients. 

After studying at UCLA School of Dentistry, you become highly qualified to provide a wide range of services, including general dentistry and specialty areas such as periodontics, oral surgery, and pediatric dentistry.

10. The University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine

University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine
Ranking #58 Best National University
Acceptance Rate 58%
Average GPA 3.65
Average DAT Score 20.8
In-State Tuition + Fees $57,635

The University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine is one of the best dental schools in the country. It offers a range of programs, including a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) program and advanced education programs in general dentistry and oral and maxillofacial diagnostic sciences. 

UConn's curriculum seamlessly integrates medical and dental sciences, reinforcing core knowledge while avoiding unnecessary repetition. It places a strong emphasis on research, with substantial funding dedicated to various projects. Students gain hands-on experience in an extensive patient care clinic, learning to deliver comprehensive dental care to patients of all ages. 

Additionally, they engage in community service and volunteer activities, collaborating with faculty on numerous outreach initiatives.

How to Choose Dental Schools to Apply to 

Selecting the right dental school is a pivotal decision that shapes your academic journey and future career. Here are key considerations to guide your decision-making process:


Dental schools typically begin with coursework in biomedical and dental sciences, along with hands-on training in simulation labs. How dental schools structure their curriculums can vary; while some integrate clinical experiences throughout all four years, others start with setting the foundation with theory before integrating clinical training towards the end of the program.

Make sure the curriculum of your prospective schools aligns with your educational objectives and career aspirations. 

Clinical Experience and Research Opportunities

Early exposure to patient care varies widely among dental schools, ranging from immediate patient interaction in the first year to structured clinical training in later years. Understanding these timelines and opportunities is crucial for your clinical readiness and skill development.

In addition to clinical training, research opportunities are integral to advancing dental knowledge and preparing for specialized fields. Explore each school’s research programs and initiatives, including available research mentorship and funding opportunities, how research is integrated within the curriculum, and opportunities to collaborate with faculty and affiliated institutions.

Financial Considerations

Dental school is a big financial commitment, so it’s essential to carefully consider finances before you make your decision. Public institutions tend to be more cost-effective than private schools, and studying as an in-state vs. out-of-state student can also save you thousands in tuition expenses.

This decision not only affects your immediate costs but also plays a crucial role in your long-term financial planning throughout your dental education. It’s also beneficial to research what types of financial aid or scholarships each school offers to ease the financial burden and make dental education more affordable. 

Evaluate Your Candidacy 

Assessing your competitive fit involves evaluating your alignment with each school’s admission criteria. This includes reviewing your Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores, GPA, and completion of prerequisite requirements. To optimize your chances of acceptance, consider applying to a balanced mix of safety, goal, and reach schools. 

This approach ensures you challenge yourself academically while strategically increasing your likelihood of securing admission to a dental program that aligns with your career aspirations.

If you’re still not sure which dental school is best for you after considering these factors, try your hand at our Dental School Selection quiz! It will review factors like location, class size, program length, DAT scores, and GPAs to generate a list of schools tailored to your unique preferences!


Still have questions? Take a look at our answers to these frequently asked questions about dental school.

1. What Are the Hardest Dental Schools to Get Into?

The hardest dental schools to get into are UCLA School of Dental Medicine, with an acceptance rate of 1.32%, and Harvard Medical School, with a 2.34% acceptance rate.

2. Is the DAT Harder Than the MCAT?

The MCAT is often seen as the harder exam because it covers a wider range of topics, including physics, psychology, and sociology. 

3. What Is the #1 Dental School in the US?

The number one dental school in the US is Harvard School of Dentistry. 

Final Thoughts

Selecting the right dental school is key to succeeding in your dental career. Many top dental schools in the US provide everything you need to become an expert in the field. By accounting for factors like admissions requirements, specialties, and research opportunities, you can narrow down your list and find the best dental school for you. 

If you’re having a hard time choosing between these top dental schools, consider reaching out to an admissions expert who can provide personalized advice and support according to your unique preferences and circumstances. Here’s what Kevin had to say about working with Inspira Advantage: 

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