The Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) and Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) diagnose, prevent, and treat teeth and tissue problems. They remove decay, fill cavities, examine x-rays, place protective plastic sealants on children’s teeth, straighten teeth, and repair fractured teeth. They also perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases. Dentists extract teeth and make models and measurements for dentures to replace missing teeth. They provide instruction on diet, brushing, flossing, use of fluorides, and other aspects of dental care, as well. They also administer anesthetics and write prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications.

Most dentists are general practitioners, handling a variety of dental needs. Other dentists practice in one of nine specialty areas including orthodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, prosthodontics, endodontics, public health, oral pathology, and oral and maxillofacial radiology.

This health profession description is from the U.S. Department of Labor occupational outlook handbook

Dental school candidates require the completion of a four-year degree from an accredited college or university and must take the following prerequisite courses:

  • English or Writing -2 semesters
  • Biology with lab - 2 semesters
  • Chemistry with lab -3 semesters
  • Biochemistry - 1 semester
  • Physics with lab -2 semesters
  • Statistics - 2 semesters (depending on the individual school)

Some schools may require additional or recommended courses such as physiology and microbiology. Students are strongly encouraged to refer to the individual programs they wish to apply to for specific admission requirements. Refer to the ADEA Dental School Explorer.

Attend Pre-Health Information Sessions 

 Students are encouraged to visit the Pre-Health Advising Office and attend a 101 pre-health information session during their first year at UM and open a pre-health file. 

Academic Performance 

Establish good study habits and skills. Students must demonstrate academic ability in the form of strong science and cumulative GPA. 

 Shadowing Experience 

Getting first-hand experience in a clinical setting is essential in solidifying your decision. Through shadowing healthcare practitioners and actively interacting or serving patients, you will gain meaningful insight into all aspects of the healthcare profession.

It is recommended that applicants shadow a minimum of three (3) professionals for forty (40) hours each. Many students accomplish this step by joining a pre-health student organization that has connections with matching their members with practitioners in the dental field in a variety of specialties (general dentist, orthodontics, oral, maxillofacial surgeon, etc.).

Summer Enrichment Program 

Several programs offer summer enrichment programs where potential applicants can strengthen their preparation. They typically offer academic coursework in areas related to the professional school curriculum. Some programs offer test preparation, research activity, and hands-on clinical experiences. For more information, visit the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) website

Research Experience 

Research involvement will provide you with first-hand experience in the role and methodology of research in medicine, even if your goal is clinical practice. If you are seriously considering a joint Ph.D. with the M.D., degree, you must gain significant research experience as an undergraduate. UM students are fortunate to have numerous opportunities for research on the Coral Gables campus, at RSMAS, and on the Miller School of Medicine campus. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists in matching students with an appropriate mentor and project. Visit them at or at their office in Ungar 101.

UConnect is a student organization promoting undergraduate research and is a great resource for connecting with research opportunities.

Additionally, some students may contact individual professors regarding their research and ask if they can volunteer in their lab(s).

Extra-curricular Involvement 

Your level of participation in activities, both on- and off-campus, is more important to professional schools than the number of organizations you join. Some of the characteristics that admissions committees are looking for in applicants include compassion, commitment, leadership, responsibility, and overall well-rounded individuals. A good way to develop strong interpersonal skills is by stepping out of your comfort zone. 

Activities of interest to pre-health students include service groups, cultural and academic clubs and organizations, employment, and athletics. For information on the various pre-health clubs, please visit our Pre-Health Student Clubs tab on our website or the Student Activities Center Engage website at

The UM Butler for Service & Leadership offers a wide range of volunteer and advocacy-based service and leadership opportunity programs and initiatives for the UM community. For more information, please, visit their website:

Cultivating Evaluation Letters

It is important to establish and maintain good relationships with your faculty members, instructors, supervisors, and health professionals during your academic career. As you engage on and off-campus, remember the following:

  • Be genuine.
  • Display good moral conduct and characteristics.
  • Demonstrate interest in the course subject, activity, discussion, assignment, labs, etc.
  • Ask questions and visit during office hours.
  • Stay in touch, and keep them up to date with your progress and achievements towards your professional goals.

Choosing a Major

Choose a subject that you are passionate about. Complete your pre-health required courses while also completing your major and degree requirements.


Attend a Pre-Health 101 Information Session. Transition and adjust to campus climate and culture and familiarize yourself with campus resources and meet with a Pre-Health Advisor.  Develop good study skills and habits to help you stay on top of your courses and grades. Identify Pre-Health student organizations, many student organizations offer their members opportunities to participate in volunteer & community service activities. The Butler Center for Service & Leadership also offers many opportunities as well. 

Sophomore Year

Attend a Pre-Health 201 Information Session/Workshop. Participate in research, community service, volunteer, and clinical experiences. Develop engaging relationships with your professors and mentors to establish connections for future letters of evaluation.  

Junior Year

Attend a Pre-Health 301 Information Session/Workshops. Assess your readiness for the application cycle. 


Most candidates take the DAT during the winter break of their junior year or between the spring and summer of their junior year.  However, candidates who elect to take a gap year may take the exam during their senior year. 

DAT scores are generally valid for 2 years. 

Letters of Recommendations

(Junior-Senior Year)

Request letters of recommendation 2-3 months BEFORE June when the AMCAS application portal opens for submission. 

For a Committee Letter Packet, 6 letters of recommendation are required. For additional details on the specific letter types, please refer to the student guide

Preparation is Key

(December - January)

Do your research, and create a list of schools you are interested in applying to which should include the median  DAT and GPAs relevant to your own stats. 

Jot down ideas for your personal statement essay, and compile a list of all of your activities (shadowing, research, volunteering, community service, leadership, internship activities). We recommend you write down the details for each activity and have the contact person's name and contact information for your records.  

Committee Letter Interview

(February 1 - May) 

Students who wish to request a committee letter packet from the Office of Pre-Health Advising and Mentoring should schedule and conduct their interviews before May 20, 2022. No interviews will be scheduled or granted beyond this point. For more detailed information about the process and requirements, please refer to the student guide

Complete Application (April-May)

For candidates applying for the current application cycle (2023). Create an account on the respective application portal(s):


Submit Primary Applications (June-July)

Once you have completed your application in its entirety, submit your primary application so they can begin the verification process, which can take up to 3-4 weeks. 

Once you have submitted your application, follow the Letter Request Procedures outlined in the student guidebook on page 21.

Secondaries (July- August) 

Some schools will begin to send secondaries once your application is verified. Aim to complete your secondaries within 2 weeks from the date you receive them. 

* Remember to set your notifications and check your email for any additional requests you may receive from the application portals. 

Finalize Your Applications (September-October)

This is the optimal time to complete and finalize your application (submit primary, secondary, LORs, DAT). Most schools will begin sending invitations and conducting interviews at this time.

September 1- Last day to submit your request to the Office of Pre-Health Advising in order to be added to the Queue for Submission for a committee letter packet. 

Interviews and Acceptances (November-December) 

Prepare and plan accordingly for interviews, notify your professors in advance of any classes you may miss due to medical school interviews, and discuss options for makeup assignments or exams (this is up to the professor's discretion).

Consider Final Acceptances (Senior Spring Semester)


Assess all offers of admissions and review financial aid options and opportunities. Narrow your acceptance to your top 3 choices. 

Make sure to adhere to important deadlines.   

(April- May) 

The next step in your dental career begins now. Complete the necessary paperwork to confirm your acceptance and pay the registration deposit. 

Job well done!


Professional Organizations

American Dental Education Association (ADEA)-

Application Portals

Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS)-

For applicants who wish to apply to the Texas dental schools, you will need to apply to the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS)

School Directory

ADEA Dental School Explorer-

Standardize Tests

Dental Admission Test (DAT)-

DAT Guide-

Test Prep-