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Pre-Dentistry

Program Information

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.

Advising Information

Admissions requirements

Getting accepted to dental school requires completing a bachelor’s degree in any field, plus the necessary science pre-requisites.

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Prerequisite course work

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. Please see VCU’s bulletin for recommend pre-requisites 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.

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.

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Elective courses

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, microbiology, immunology, etc.

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DENS 101 Introduction to Dentistry

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.

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Standardized tests (DAT)

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.

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Application information

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 post-secondary 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.

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Collecting letters of evaluation

Pre-Health Advising will collect letters of evaluation only for those who are participating in the pre-health advisory committee. 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 Pre-Health Advising upload letters of evaluation into the AADAS system upon the student’s request.

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Pre-Health Advisory Committee

The Pre-Health Advisory Committee

Pre-Health Advising offers a committee evaluation letter of evaluation file. If students participate in the committee process, they are required to keep their individual letters of evaluation on file with pre-health advising. Students are invited to set up a letter of evaluation file without going through the committee.

The pre-health advisory committee is a long-standing tradition at VCU. The committee consists of 40 faculty members from University Academic Advising, College of Humanities and Sciences, Honors College, School of Engineering, Division of Student Affairs and Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. There is a $20 fee to participate in either the pre-health advisory committee or file service.

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 or three-person committee will write a letter evaluating the student’s credentials for medical school or dental school and will present that letter to the entire committee for approval. Upon approval of the committee letter, the committee letter and the student’s individual letters of evaluation are transmitted to all the medical schools to which a student applies.

Members of the committee interview students in the latter part of the spring semester before they apply to medical school. The committee writes a letter evaluating the applicant’s academic performance, health care experience, individual references, 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 medical 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 medical 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, as most medical school admission committees are familiar with our committee process and expect students to participate.

Regulations Concerning VCU’s Pre-Health Advisory Committee

VCU’s Pre-Health Advisory committee is an evaluation service provided to those students who will be candidates to dental and medical school. The process to obtain a Pre-Health Advisory Committee letter for applications to schools of Dentistry and Medicine (to include Allopathic and Osteopathic) occurs once a year during the spring semester of each academic year. Eligible VCU students and alumni must submit an application, references and participate in the interview process to obtain a committee letter. The committee letter is valid for the current application cycle only.

Eligibility Guidelines

Students must meet the following in order to be eligible for the Pre-Health Advisory Committee:

New Applicants

  • Must be a current degree or certificate seeking student or an alum who has graduated within the past two years
  • Earned a minimum VCU GPA of 3.2 by end of Fall 2014 (including repeat courses)
  • Have or will complete at least 25 credits at VCU (Spring 2015 enrollment will be considered)
  • Release admissions scores (MCAT, DAT) when registering for respective admissions test to VCU (they will not be used in the evaluation process)

Re-applicants

  • Must be a current degree or certificate seeking student or an alum who has graduated within the past two years
  • Earned a minimum VCU GPA of 3.2 by end of Fall 2014 (including repeat courses)
  • Have or will complete at least 25 credits at VCU (Spring 2015 enrollment will be considered)
  • Release admissions scores (MCAT, DAT) when registering for respective admissions test to VCU (they will not be used in the evaluation process)
  • Provide an updated statement on what you have done differently in preparing to re-apply for this current admissions cycle, current test scores and future test dates (if applicable)

In order to participate in the Pre-Health Advisory Committee for the Fall 2016 application cycle new and returning applicants must complete the following:

Meet all eligibility criteria to participate.

  • Attend a pre-health applying workshop (Medicine or Dentistry) (Dates for Spring 2015 will be posted in January)
  • Complete the application in its entirety by March 23, 2015 by 5PM EST
  • 2-3 letters of recommendation must be received by March 23, 2015 PM EST. An additional letter can be submitted if planning to apply to an Osteopathic Medical School or a MD/PHD program
  • Pay $20.00 committee participate fee
  • Participate in Pre-Health Committee interview in April
  • Check VCU email account for information regarding the Pre-Health Advisory Committee

All communication will be done through your VCU email account. No other email will be used in order to communicate with candidates for the Pre-Health Advisory Committee. Failure to adhere to this policy will forfeit your opportunity to participate in committee. It is the responsibility of the applicant to follow all instructions in order to participate in the Pre-Health Advisory Committee.

Pre-Health Advisory Committee Application (Uses Adobe Forms)

Pre-Health Advisory Committee Letter of Recommendation (Uses Adobe Forms)

Spring 2015 Pre-Health Committee Payment Form

General Information

Letters of evaluation are required for application to medical and dental school. Pre-Health Advising acts a central agency to:

  •  Evaluate applicants for the purposes of creating a composite letter based on the following criteria: Cumulative GPA, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math (BCPM) GPA, Letters of Evaluation, Interview, Healthcare experience and Co-curricular activities to include volunteer, leadership and service
  •  Maintain a confidential file of the student’s recommendation letters (up to three). Students applying to both school of Osteopathic and Allopathic Medicine and/or MD/PHD programs may have a maximum of four letters
  •  Transmit letters of evaluation files to schools of Dentistry, Medicine, and Osteopathic Medicine as designated by the student. This process saves the applicant and letter writers from transmitting correspondence to every school for which a student makes an application.

Admissions Cycle Process

Students who plan to apply for admission to schools of Dentistry, Medicine, and Osteopathic Medicine for fall 2016 should start a file in the early part of the spring 2015 semester. Your file must be completed by March 23, 2015 5PM EST in order to participate.

Your file packet will include:

  • Pre-Health Committee Application
  • 2-3 Letters of evaluation
  • All transcripts from every college attended
  • Personal Statement and completion of short essay questions

Letters of Recommendation – Do not wait to ask for letters of recommendation. Professors, physicians and dentists are busy and you do not want to wait too late to ask for them to write on your behalf. Letters should come from faculty (science faculty are highly encouraged), practitioners – physicians and dentists, and supervisors. Recommendations should really speak to who you are as a student, your character and integrity and your aptitude for the sciences. Please provide your information to them to be completed on your behalf. There is an option to upload their recommendation in addition to a short assessment on the form. Recommendations should be written on letterhead and signed in order to be deemed as official.

Admissions Testing – Most students plan on taking their admissions tests (MCAT/DATs) during the summer of their application cycle. Students must release scores to VCU in order to have a letter written on your behalf. Test scores will not be used in your evaluation but are for evaluative purposes.

Transmission – Once you complete the application process, you must request your letters of recommendation to be sent, or transmitted.  You will be required to complete a form and submit to prehealthadv@gmail.com. We will only transmit to schools in the US and Caribbean. Schools that require letters to be sent via US mail must be addressed by the student and then submitted to the office for mailing.

Admissions Testing Information

It is the responsibility of the applicant to register online in a timely fashion for the necessary admissions test. You must release your scores to this office. It is in your best interest to take your admissions test before August.

  •  MCAT- www.aamc.org
  • DAT- www.ada.org

Application Process

It is the responsibility of the applicant to complete the application to medical and dental schools and submit applications prior to deadlines. You must release your information to this office. Prepare to submit your application well before established deadlines. Centralized application services do not accept applications after deadlines have passed. Below are websites to apply to medical and dental schools.

Medical

  1. Allopathic- www.aamc.org
  2. Osteopathic- www.aacom.org

Dental- www.adea.org

Remember to print a copy of your completed application for your files. You must provide a final copy of your submitted AMCAS, AACOMAS, or AADSAS application,  and complete the transmission request form to this office before your letter will be transmitted.

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The Dental Club @ VCU

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.

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Helpful Web sites for Pre-dentistry

National organizations

Testing and preparation services

Personal statements and interviewing

Applications online

Post-baccalaureate pre-medical programs

Other

Financial aid information for pre-health students

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