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Dentist Majors: College Majors for Aspiring Dentists

While any major might be acceptable when applying to dental school, students typically have to complete a set number of classes in the sciences and liberal arts. Some universities offer pre-dentistry tracks, but students still have to select a major in a broader scientific subject.

Essential Information

Among the many degree programs that meet dental school requirements are biology, chemistry and physics.

Students who choose to major in biology could acquire knowledge of life and various diseases through the study of topics such as cell biology, ecology and immunology. Chemistry majors might learn about chemical compounds and elements. Various aspects of organic and analytical chemistry are explored in this undergraduate program. Quantum mechanics and astronomy are some core areas of study in bachelor's-level physics programs. Each type of program should offer classroom and laboratory experiences.

  • Pre-Denistry Program Fields: B.S. Biology. B.S. Chemistry. B.S. Physics.
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED for all bachelor's level programs.
  • Program Specializations: Molecular Biology. Zoology. Ecology. Genetics. Optics. Nuclear Physics.
  • Program Lengths: 4 years.
  • Experiential Learning: Labwork.

Bachelor of Science in Biology

Biology primarily studies life and its processes. In many cases, these programs will include coursework that satisfies dental school prerequisites. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in biology can focus on the comprehensive study and research of life. In addition to biology courses, students can study subjects like:

  • Calculus
  • Genetics
  • Chemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Immunology
  • Physics

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

A bachelor's degree in chemistry may also be useful to aspiring dentists, as these programs fulfill dental school prerequisites in chemistry and mathematics. Chemistry programs typically include laboratory work and focus on how elements react to one another in the environment. Students learn about chemical compounds, synthetic reactions, chemical bonds and lab safety.

In these programs, students learn about chemical principles of the elements and of molecules. In addition to classroom lectures, students learn how to use laboratory equipment and perform experiments in order to understand chemical theories. Some common courses may include:

  • General chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Analytical chemistry

Bachelor of Science in Physics

Students in a physics degree program study advanced mathematics, computational techniques and physics theories. Students can easily fulfill the common dental school prerequisites of physics and math.

Some common courses in these programs may include:

  • Thermal physics
  • Astronomy
  • Calculus
  • Modern physics
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Applied physics

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of dentists is expected to grow 16% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). This growth may be attributed to an increasing elderly population needing more dental care. Dentists are responsible for the preventative care of teeth, oral surgery and the administration of anesthetics. The BLS states that the median annual income for general dentists was $149,540 in May 2014.

Continuing Education Information and Licensure

After earning a degree in an appropriate undergraduate field of study, students can apply to an accredited dental school. They are required to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) for admissions. A Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree program provides courses like microbiology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. Students also participate in labs and clinical rounds in which they treat actual patients under the supervision of dentists.

In addition to the four years of dental school, aspiring dentists must be licensed by their individual states. Licensure includes both a practical and written exam. In order to be eligible for the licensing exam, future dentists may have to complete postgraduate residencies and education.

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