Dentist Colleges, Universities and Schools in the U.S.

Jan 02, 2019

Individuals who want to become dentists must earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree and then complete additional training in their specialty of interest within the dental field. Read on to learn more about educational requirements for this profession.

In order to become a dentist, it is necessary to earn a DDS or DMD degree, complete a certificate program in a specialty area of interest and pass a state licensure exam. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 60 accredited schools that offer graduate-level dentistry programs.

Schools with Dentistry Programs

Some of the most well-known and respected dentistry programs in the United States are offered at the institutions listed here.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered* Graduate Tuition (2015-2016)**
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Doctoral $42,874
University of California-San Francisco San Francisco, CA 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state $11,220; Out-of-state $26,322
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Doctoral, Graduate Programs $34,268
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private Master's, Graduate Certificate $44,176
University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state $13,447; Out-of-state $22,306

Sources: *School websites, **National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a dental school:

  • Students must make sure that the school is accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation.
  • It can be helpful to find out what the pass rate is for graduates on the National Board Dental Examinations.
  • Prospective dental students may want to find out about specialty certificate placement rates for graduates, particularly in their specialty area of interest.
  • Students may want to find out about the settings in which they will complete their clinical training, such as large urban practices or rural dental clinics, in order to ensure that it coincides with their future career interests.

Doctoral Degree Programs

After earning a bachelor's degree and completing pre-dental undergraduate, coursework, aspiring dentists can apply to dental school. Dental schools offer either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. It is important to note that there is no difference between these two degrees. In four-year DDS and DMD programs, students take advanced courses in dentistry-related subjects such as oral anatomy, radiology and periodontics. They also participate in supervised clinical experiences in order to get hands-on training in the field.

Specialty Certificate Programs

After completing a DDS or DMD program, trained dentists must prepare for licensure in a specialty area of interest in order to prepare for the state board exam. The nine specialty areas that students can choose from are endodontics, general practice, advanced operative and adhesive dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orofacial pain, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry and prosthodontics. Depending on the program, certificates take between two and four years to complete.

Studies in dentistry can be completed at a number of public and private universities in the United States. Aspiring dentists must earn a doctoral degree and complete specialized postgraduate training in order to practice.

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