As a student interested in pursuing a career in dentistry, you should combine a strong academic record with outside-the-classroom experiences that allow you to gain exposure to the field of dentistry and build a record of distinction and accomplishment.
As an aspiring dentist, you should strive to reach a high level of academic achievement in challenging courses. Dental schools do not show a preference for any particular academic major. Therefore, you should choose a major that gives you the opportunity to engage in coursework that most interests you.
While the specific choice of major is not important, it is essential that you plan your undergraduate coursework carefully so you take all courses required by schools of dentistry, which emphasize the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities:
Other Important Elements of Pre-Dental Preparation
As a student interested in pursuing a career in dentistry, you should combine a strong academic record with outside-the-classroom experiences that allow you to explore the various facets of dentistry.
- There are a wealth of research opportunities here at Merrimack College throughout the academic year and in the summer. Consult departmental pages and talk with your professors about how to get involved in research on campus.
- The National Science Foundation funds a variety of summer research programs for undergraduates.
- Speak with your career advisor at Merrimack’s O’Brien Center to learn about internship opportunities.
- Merrimack has a strong tradition of service to the community. The Office of Mission and Ministry has a variety of opportunities and resources enabling you to give back to the community.
- Healthcare Advocacy
- Merrimack Valley Food Bank
Before making the commitment to a career in dentistry, it is essential to spend some time “in the shoes” of a dentist (ideally, several days or weeks). Contact your health professions advisor for ideas on how to set up shadowing experiences.
Applying to Dental Schools
Please review the following checklist if you are applying to dental schools.
Register to take the DAT
- Take the DAT exam by June of the year prior to your desired matriculation date. For example, applicants who wish to begin dental school in Fall 2022 should take the DAT by June 2021 at the latest.
- You will be asked to create a DENTPIN (Dental Personal Identifier Number) before you can complete the application to register for the DAT. This number will be used throughout the dental school application process
- Once you create a DENTPIN, you should register for a DAT exam date within 60-90 days.
The DAT consists of a battery of four tests on the following:
- Survey of the Natural Sciences
- Perceptual Ability
- Reading Comprehension
- Quantitative Reasoning.
Begin drafting your personal statement. A strong, well-written personal statement is a critical element of a successful application. The personal statement gives you the opportunity to present a compelling snapshot of who you are, what motivates you to seek a career as a dentist and what personal qualities and experiences make you an excellent candidate. This takes time, careful thought and will likely require many drafts before it is ready to submit. Begin early (several months before submitting your application)!
Identify individuals who are able and willing to write you strong letters of recommendation and can complete these letters by mid-May (just prior to when you submit your application). Your recommenders should be individuals who know you well and can comment at length on your talents, accomplishments and unique attributes. These individuals will ideally include:
- Two science professors
- One non-science professor
- M.D. or D.O. physician with whom you have worked (i.e. through shadowing or other clinical experiences)
- Additional recommenders may include non-faculty individuals such as coaches
Create an AADSAS account
Submit your application in early June.
Complete secondary applications (generally, throughout the summer, within two weeks of when they are requested).
Interview! Interviews generally take place in the fall through spring.
Wait for acceptances. If you are waitlisted, do not be discouraged. Reach out to the health professions advisor for advice on how to proceed.
Accept at your top choice and matriculate!
Fee Assistance: Highly qualified students wishing to apply to dental school should not be discouraged from doing so for financial reasons. Learn more about the fee assistance program for AADSAS applicants.