Leaders in dental education encourage students planning to enter this profession to obtain a broad background in the liberal arts, with a study of not only sciences, but the humanities and social sciences as well. The prospective student should check with the intended school of dentistry for specific requirements.
Biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, physics and English are generally required for admission to the VCU School of Dentistry. Other courses, such as those in the behavioral sciences and courses involving psychomotor skills, are strongly recommended.
Programs of Study
Completion of courses in the pre-dental advising track does not constitute admission to the VCU School of Dentistry. The student must apply separately to the dental school of his or her choice at the appropriate time.
A student entering the university with an interest in preparing for dental school should declare an academic major while also indicating a pre-dental advising track. The classification pre-dental exists to identify the student’s career interests, but the student does not earn a pre-dental degree.
A student who is “undeclared” about an academic major initially, but who has indicated a pre-dental advising track, will clarify his or her academic interests through regular conversations with his or her advisors. The student will declare a major in one of the degree programs offered within the university. At the same time, the student will complete the necessary pre-requisites for application for admission to the dental school of his or her choice.
Pre-dental students are encouraged to major in fields of greatest interest to them. Students need not major in a science area. In fact, many non-science majors achieve high acceptance rates into dental schools.
- Admissions requirements
- Prerequisite course work
- Elective courses
- DENS 101 Introduction to Dentistry
- Standardized tests (DAT)
- Application information
- Collecting letters of evaluation
- Pre-Health Advisory Committee
- The Dental Club @ VCU
- Application Checklist
- Helpful Links
Getting accepted to dental school requires completing a bachelor’s degree in any field, plus the necessary science pre-requisites.
The prerequisites for dental school should be completed before or at the time the DAT is taken. Typically, pre-requisites are complete and the DAT is taken at the conclusion of the spring semester that takes place 15 months before a student plans to enter dental school.
Prerequisites for dental school:
It is strongly recommended that students complete all requirements for a bachelor’s degree in addition to the required prerequisites before entering dental school.
2 semesters with lab
2 semesters with lab
2 semesters with lab
1 semester required for VCU School of Dentistry
2 semesters of general or university physics with lab
2 semesters including grammar and composition
It should be noted that some dental schools require additional prerequisite course work. The best reference for specific requirements for different dental schools is the must current edition of The ADEA’s Official Guide to Dental Schools and the links to individual dental schools, also available on the ADEA’s Web site.
Most dental schools prefer candidates with broad educational backgrounds. In addition to a strong science background, professional school requires a solid foundation in basic verbal and quantitative skills.
Parts of the DAT focus on writing skills and reading comprehension of nonscientific material. It also is advisable for students with a concentration in pre-dentistry to have more than the minimum number of science courses required for admission. Science majors will automatically meet this recommendation. They should choose electives from within the liberal arts. Non-science majors should select from upper-level science courses, such as genetics, anatomy, physiology, etc.
Each spring the VCU School of Dentistry offers a one-credit course, DENS 101 Introduction to Dentistry. The course introduces undergraduates to the field of dentistry and helps them gain practical exposure to the field while pursuing pre-requisite course work. It is recommended that pre-dental students take this course in their freshman year or the spring semester directly after transfer into VCU.
The American Dental Association administers the required standardized test, the Dental School Admissions Test, or DAT. The ADA will electronically transmit DAT scores to all the dental schools that a student designates to receive them.
The DAT is composed of four separate examinations, which include: 1) survey of the natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry), 2) perceptual ability, 3) reading comprehension and 4) quantitative reasoning.
Students take the DAT at a testing center on a date that they coordinate with the Dental Admissions testing program. If you are not prepared for the test in the spring, wait until August, and study hard over the summer. Take the test by Labor Day at the latest. If taking it for the first time in August or September, it will be difficult to register for another administration of the test and have those scores communicated to the dental schools in a timely fashion. There is a 90-day wait before a student may register for the DAT a second time. However, students may (and should) still apply to AADSAS in June even if they are not taking the DAT at a later time. Registration for the DAT is available online.
You must request that the scores report be sent to the individual schools to which you are applying by contacting the Department of Testing Services in the American Dental Association. Score reporting requests can be made online.
The American Dental Education Association helps students manage the application process to dental school. They offer a centralized application service, AADSAS, that allows students to electronically file one application for all the dental schools to which a student makes application. AADSAS collects students’ transcripts and letters of recommendation and will forward all information regarding academic history, personal statements and activities to all the dental schools designated by the student.
Applicants may be required to submit supplemental information to each dental school to which they apply. Check the AADSAS application instruction booklet, available online to determine which materials are required and how best to send them. Do not send these materials directly into AADSAS.
Transcripts can be sent to AADSAS directly from the VCU Office of Records and Registration. Students should have additional copies of their transcripts sent directly to them. Request transcripts from all U.S., U.S. Territorial or Canadian postsecondary institutions attended, even if transfer work appears on the VCU transcript. If enrolled in school during the summer or fall semester while or after you apply, send updated transcripts to all schools considering your application immediately following the semester. Do not send additional transcripts to AADSAS after initial application. Send these directly to the schools to which you have applied.Make sure you include the AADSAS transcript matching form when you make a request to have a transcript sent.
Fill out the Academic Record section of the application, following all instructions exactly. All courses must be marked Biology (B), Chemistry (C), Physics (P) or other categories. The AADSAS application instruction booklet gives you designations for all categories of courses. Your GPA will be calculated by AADSAS, and will be broken down into science (BCP) and cumulative GPA.
The Office of Pre-Health Sciences Advising will collect letters of evaluation only for those who are participating in the pre-health advisory committee process. AADSAS will collect letters of evaluation for students who do not participate in the pre-health advisory committee process and send them in to the dental schools to which students apply.
Individual evaluators and the Office of Pre-Health Advising upload letters of evaluation into the AADAS system upon the student’s request.
Pre-health File Service - Fall 2015 Prehealth file service
Pre-health evaluation form - Prehealth evaluation form 2015
The Office of Pre-Health Sciences Advising offers the service of a committee evaluation. The pre-health advisory committee is a long-standing tradition at VCU. The committee consists of 40 faculty members from the College of Humanities and Sciences, Schools of Education, Allied Health, Engineering, and Division of Student Affairs. Interviews are only available during the first two weeks in May. Application for an interview must be made by the deadline stated in the committee application. Students must submit a $20 fee by the committee application deadline to receive a committee interview. Further details about the fee are available in the pre-health advisory committee application
The pre-health advisory committee will provide supportive letters of evaluation for those VCU students who present strong credentials to the committee. If students meet the requirements listed below, they are given the opportunity to interview before a subcommittee of our pre-health advisory committee. The two-person committee will write a letter evaluating the student’s credentials for dental school and will present that letter to the entire 27-person committee for approval. Upon approval of the committee letter, the committee letter along with the student’s individual letters of evaluation are transmitted to all the dental schools to which a student applies.
Members of the committee interview students in the latter part of the spring semester before they apply to dental school. The committee writes a letter evaluating the applicant’s academic performance, health care/dental experience, extracurricular activities and personality characteristics. The committee evaluation will be summarized by one of the following statements: that the individual is highly recommended, recommended with confidence, recommended, recommended with reservations or not recommended to dental school. If the student selects the service of the pre-health advisory committee, the right of access to the committee evaluation must be waived. This waiver of access is included in the student’s evaluation file and is sent to dental schools, along with a cover letter and all the individual evaluations that a student solicits.
Participating in the committee process is optional but strongly recommended.
Students planning to participate in the pre-health advisory committee should complete all of the following activities:
- Attend one of the mandatory orientation sessions advertised on the pre-dental listserv.
- Have at least two individuals (preferably two science faculty members) complete and submit the Prehealth evaluation forms.
- Submit the pre-health advisory application and $20 fee by the stated deadline.
- Have a VCU cumulative GPA of 3.2 (including course repeats) OR a minimum GPA of 3.5 (including course repeats) in the last 60 credits attempted at VCU, and at least 25 VCU undergraduate credits completed by the end of the spring semester before application is made to the dental school.
- While the DAT scores are not used in the committee evaluation process, it is highly recommended that you release your scores to your pre-health advisor upon applying to take the DAT.
If students participate in the committee process, they are required to keep their individual letters of evaluation on file with the Office of Pre-Health Sciences Advising. Students participating in the committee process should submit their paperwork to participate in the committee and set up a letter of evaluation file by the stated deadline. Students who are not participating in the committee process should have their individual letters of evaluation sent directly into AADSAS.
The pre-health advisory committee only evaluates applicants at the end of the spring semester before application to dental school is made.
Students who do not participate in the committee process will not have this opportunity at any time during the summer or fall semesters preceding entry to dental school.
Fall 2015 Pre-Health Committee application – New applicants -Fall 2015 Prehealth advisory application
Fall 2015 Pre-Health Committee application – Re-applicant - Fall 2015 Prehealth advisory application reapplicant
Pre-health evaluation form - Prehealth evaluation form 2015
The Dental Club @ VCU is a student-run organization that assists students in the dental school application process by exposing them to the dental profession, as well as sponsoring events and programs to help students in the application process. Events include presentations from deans of admission and trips to dental schools to tour facilities and meet with faculty and students. Visit the club’s Web site to find out how to get involved.
- American Dental Education Association
- American Dental Association
(This is the organization that sponsors the DAT)
Testing and preparation services
Personal statements and interviewing
- Winning Personal Statements
- Writing Personal Statements for Programs in the Health Professions
- The Student Doctor Network
Post-baccalaureate pre-medical programs
Financial aid information for pre-health students
- FINAID – The Smart Guide to Financial Aid
- U.S. Department of Education
- Bureau of Health Professions, Dept. of Health & Human Services
- National Health Service Corps
- National Institutes of Health
- Indian Health Service