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Undergraduate student working in dental school lab

Pre-Dentistry

Interested in a career in dentistry?

The IU Dental School is the only dental school in Indiana - and it's right on IUPUI's campus. Pre-dentistry students in the School of Science at IUPUI have access to research and internships opportunities IU Dental School as well as the IU Medical School as they navigate throughout the program. 

Like most universities, IUPUI does not offer a pre-dentistry major. Few colleges in the United States offer this major because dental schools do not require students to complete specific majors. However, many majors in the School of Science at IUPUI provide students with excellent undergraduate preparation for dental school.

Around the country, dental schools are looking for well-rounded and well-educated students.

See Pre-Professional Programs

What will you learn?

Competition is high for admission to dental schools. While some dental programs do not require an undergraduate degree for admission, students are urged to elect a degree program rather than fulfilling the minimum requirements for entry into professional programs.

All dental schools have different requirements for admission. However, there are specific pre-requisites that should be completed in order to be admitted into a professional school and many benefits to selecting a science major as you pursue success in the field, including:

Why choose to major in science?

  • Pre-requisites for most professional programs often favor and lean heavily toward science majors. Learn more about prerequisites.
  • By studying science at IUPUI, students have opportunities to work, learn and participate in research in both IU Medical and IU Dental School right on campus. Access to both schools located on campus is a benefit that no other college in Indiana can offer students. 
  • Many science undergraduate degrees are marketable to future employers even if the student chooses not to pursue professional schooling.

What will you do?

Pre-dentistry students in the School of Science at IUPUI will be prepared for admissions into professional schools that lead to careers in the following fields:

  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Oral surgery
  • Private practice dentist

Prepare for Dental School

The School of Science office for Pre-Professional & Career Preparation (PREPs) will support you throughout the process of preparing for dental school. From advising you on pre-requisite courses and professional development activities to helping you through the application process, PREPs can assist you in every step.
 
Admission to dental school is very competitive. You need to plan thoroughly from the start to be successful. The links below include detailed information on everything from the courses to the application process. If you are an IUPUI School of Science student, we strongly encourage you to make an appointment to meet with a pre-professional advisor.

Schedule an advising appointment

Academics

Pre-Requisites for Dental School

The minimum requirements for dental school include 90 credit hours of coursework. A Bachelor's degree is strongly recommended. In addition applicants should also show evidence of manual dexterity.

All pre-dentistry students must complete at least one year of biology, two years of chemistry (general and organic), one year of physics, one semester of biochemistry, one semester of microbiology, one semester of human anatomy, one semester of human physiology, and one semester of psychology. Applicants must demonstrate a strong academic record and do well on an entrance exam. Experience in the field, whether volunteer work, job shadowing, or paid experience, is also very important to help the admissions committee understand the student's passion for the profession.

Prerequisite courses for the IU School of Dentistry: 

*         BIOL-K101 Concepts of Biology I (5 cr.)

*         BIOL-K103 Concepts of Biology II (5 cr.)

*         BIOL-K384 Biological Chemistry or CHEM-C384 (3 cr.)

*         BIOL-K356 Microbiology OR BIOL K338 Immunology (3 cr.)

*         BIOL-K324 Cell Biology (3cr.)

*         BIOL-N217 Human Physiology (5 cr.)

*         BIOL-N261 Human Anatomy (5 cr.)

*         CHEM-C105 / CHEM-C125 Principles of Chemistry I/Lab  (3 cr./2 cr.)

*         CHEM-C106 / CHEM-C126 Principles of Chemistry II/Lab (3 cr./2 cr.)

*         CHEM-C341 / CHEM-C343 Organic Chemistry I/Lab (3 cr./2 cr.)

*         CHEM-C342 Organic Chemistry II (3 cr.)

*         PHYS-P201 General Physics I (5 cr.)

*         PHYS-P202 General Physics II (5 cr.)

*         PSY-B110 Introduction to Psychology (3 cr.)

*         ENG-W131 English Composition I (3 cr.)

*         COMM-R110 Fundamentals of Speech Communication (3 cr.)

Dental School Timeline

Download the Pre-Dental Timeline to help you stay on track for dental school!

Become a Science student

Entrance Exams

All dental schools have different requirements for admission, but most schools require the completion of the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a standardized exam designed to assess competencies in areas important for success in dental school and a career as a dentist. There are four sections to the DAT: Survey of the Natural Sciences (including biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry), Perceptual Ability Test, Reading Comprehension Test, and Quantitative Reasoning Test. Although coursework in physics is required for admission to dental school, physics is not a subject covered by the DAT.

If you plan to go straight into dental school after you complete your senior year of college you should plan to take the DAT in the summer after your junior year at the latest, so that dental schools will be able to review your completed applications by late summer and offer you interviews for early fall.

A fundamental way to begin to prepare for the DAT is to review the content of the exam.  Review the concepts and ask yourself if you are familiar with them. You should prepare intensively through taking repeated practice DAT exams. Students should familiarize themselves in particular with the perceptual ability problems that are included on the DAT.

You may take the DAT up to three times (in order to take it more than three times applicants must apply for special permission). You must wait 90 days between exam dates.

Gaining Relevant Experience

Professional Shadowing

Professional shadowing, or job shadowing, is another means of career exploration in which you observe a professional at work. With a professional shadow, you can learn more about a profession before you invest too much time preparing for a career that may not be right for you.

Indiana University School of Dentistry requires 100 hours of general dentistry shadowing in 3 private practice settings. 

Research, Internship and Leadership Opportunities

The School of Science at IUPUI offers various programs for students to become involved with research, internship and other leadership opportunities throughout their undergraduate experience.

One of those programs is the Life Health Sciences Internship. This one-year program provides students the opportunity to participate in both clinical and scientific research opportunities throughout IUPUI's campus and the surrounding hospitals and labs.

  • Internship Opportunities 
  • Research Opportunities
  • Involvement Opportunities
  • SCI-I-390: Health Professions Shadowing course is a 0 or 1 credit hour Satisfactory/Fail class that exposes students to the healthcare field through shadowing and being mentored by a healthcare professionals. Students gain hands on experience, basic knowledge and insights into the career of healthcare professionals.

Application Process

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) provides a centralized application service called ADDSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service) that allows applicants to submit one initial, primary application in order to apply to multiple dental schools. Most dental schools participate in AADSAS, although there are some that do not.

The process of applying to most dental schools works like this: 1) you fill out one online primary application, choose the schools you would like to receive the application, and send any supplemental materials requested by them; 2) those schools receive your application, review it, and if they would like to consider you further for admission they send you supplemental application materials or contact you to schedule an interview.

It is recommended that you try to complete and submit this application by mid-June, in order to leave ample time for processing.  You should also make sure that all supplemental materials are submitted to dental schools by early August, so that dental schools may have time to review your application and invite you for an early fall interview.

Dental School Interview Questions

If you are unsure how to answer any of these questions, check out Step 2 of our Interviewing resources for detailed tips on how to correctly answer tricky interview questions.

Questions About You

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What are your two best points?
  3. What are your two weakest points?
  4. What are three things you want to change about yourself?
  5. How do you handle conflict?
  6. Explain your leadership/research/volunteer experiences?
  7. What extracurricular activities are you engaged in?
  8. Which of your college courses interested you the most?
  9. What interests you outside of dentistry and getting into dental school?
  10. Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?
  11. What do you do in your spare time?
  12. Why did you choose the undergraduate school you went to, and if you could, would you do anything differently?
  13. What do you do to relieve stress?
  14. What course was most academically challenging for you?
  15. If you could pick any three people to have dinner with, who would they be and why did you pick the?
  16. Who are the three most influential people in your life?

Questions About Your Dental School Goals

  1. Why do you want to be a dentist?
  2. Did you ever consider medical school?
  3. When did you decide dentistry was a good career choice for you? 
  4. What steps have you taken to confirm that you want to be a dentist?
  5. What do you think being a dentist entails, apart from treating patients?
  6. What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good dentist?
  7. What do you think you will like least about dentistry?
  8. What do you think you will like most about dentistry?
  9. Dentists require a great deal of hand coordination.  Do you play any instruments or do any work with your hands?
  10. What did you do to prepare for the DAT?
  11. What dental procedures have you seen?
  12. How will you handle the stress of dental school?
  13. What do you think will be your greatest challenge in completing dental school?
  14. Why do you believe you have the ability to undertake the study and work involved in dental school?
  15. What branch of dentistry do you think would interest you? Why?
  16. Does your family support your decision to become a dentist?
  17. What did you like/dislike about the dental offices you have observed?
  18. If you are not accepted, what will you do?
  19. What would you do if you couldn't be a dentist?

Questions About Dental School

  1. Why do you want to attend [Dental School Name]
  2. How are you a match for [Dental School Name]?
  3. Why should we choose you?
  4. Describe your method of learning.  How does this fit with this dental school?
  5. Take us through your personal statement.
  6. What schools did you apply to and why those schools?
  7. What do you look for in a good dental school?
  8. Why do you want to go to school here?
  9. What sets you apart from other applicants?

Current Issue/Scenario Questions

  1. How do you think the dental profession has changed over the last 25 years? 
  2. What is the biggest challenge facing dentistry today?
  3. What is the future of dentistry?
  4. How would you handle a situation, where one of your patients has AIDS?
  5. One day, a dental school classmate gives you a sheet containing questions for an upcoming exam. How would you handle the situation and what issues would you consider important in coming to a decision about what to do?
  6. You encounter a non-English speaking patient. How would you handle the situation?
  7. Name a situation where you had to make an ethical decision.  What did you do?
  8. If you are accepted into two dental schools of your top choice, what would you do to make up your mind?
  9. Tell me a time when you witnessed dishonesty and what did you do?
  10. Is amalgam safe to use in dentistry?
  11. What are the responsibilities of a dentist to a patient?

Personal statements

Most graduate and professional programs require a personal statement as part of the application process. The personal statement is an appropriate place to share your career goals, strengths, experiences, personality, and academic successes and obstacles.

Getting Started

Often time schools require a general, comprehensive personal statement. With the general personal statement, you are allowed maximum freedom in terms of what you write. This is the type of statement often required for medical or law school applications. However, business schools and other graduate schools often ask specific questions, and your statement should respond explicitly to the question being asked. 

Despite the type of personal statement you're asked to write, you need to think of your statement as an opportunity to show how you are unique among all the other applicants. A concise, well-written personal statement is going to carry more weight than one that is long-winded or difficult to read. The following tips will help you craft a compelling personal statement.

Get started by answering the following questions:
  • What is unique or impressive about my life story? 
  • What are my professional goals? 
  • What are my core values? 
  • What is the most compelling reason for the admission committee to be interested in me? 
  • What do I know about the field I am pursuing? 
  • What obstacles, disadvantages, or hardships have I overcome? 
  • How have I involved myself with the community? 

If you need help brainstorming ideas for your personal statement, our PREPs advisors are more than happy to help you get started.

Once you have answered the questions above, begin to fill out the following outline: 

Paragraph I

Begin this paragraph by explaining what motivates you to go to graduate or professional school. You should address some, if not all, of the following questions in your first paragraph:

  • Why do I want to go to graduate or professional school?
  • How does graduate or professional school fit with my career goals?
  • Why do I believe I am an able candidate?

Paragraphs II, III, IV

Your qualifications and participation in extracurricular activities make up the next several paragraphs. This is the body of your personal statement and should answer the following questions:

  • What activities have I participated in that are relevant to my career choice?
  • What are my academic accomplishments, skills, or interests?
  • What have I learned from these accomplishments, skills or interests?
  • What have I overcome? What challenges have I faced? 

Paragraph V

You want your final paragraph to show that you are looking towards your future. Make sure your conclusion answers to these two important questions:

  • In the next several years, how do I see myself evolving?
  • Why will professional or graduate school be an important stepping stone leading to my life's work?

Tips and Tricks

In addition to the information above, the following advice taken from Purdue's Online Writing Lab can also help you craft a captivating personal statement: 

Answer the questions that are being asked. This seems obvious, but if you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar. Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It's important to answer every question as specifically as possible, and if slightly different answers are needed, you need to write separate statements.

Tell a story. Create your application so that it shows and demonstrates who you are through concrete experiences, stories, and examples. One of the worst things you can do is bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Be specific. Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, dentist, etc., should be logical and the result of concrete experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as a rational conclusion to your story.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph. The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It's here that you either grab the reader's attention...or lose it. This paragraph also serves as the framework for the rest of the statement.

Tell what you know. While being as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field, be sure to use the profession's jargon to convey this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of detailed information about the career you want and why you're suited for it.

There are certain subjects you should avoid. References to experiences or accomplishments in high school (or earlier) are generally not a good idea to mention in a personal statement for graduate or professional school, focus on something more recent. Avoid potentially controversial subjects (for example, religious or political issues). If your reader disagrees with you, your application may be unfairly scrutinized.

Do your research. If a school wants to know why you're applying to their school rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.

Pay attention to the technicality of your writing. Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.

Avoid cliches. A medical school applicant who says that he's good at science and wants to help other people isn't exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements and stories.

 

Biology student credits experiences at IUPUI with early entry to dental school

Neelam Shah Biology, Undergraduate