Biology, chemistry and physics are among the many degree programs that meet dental school admissions requirements. A high school diploma or GED are prerequisites for all bachelor's level programs.
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.
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. They might also have the opportunity to choose electives that focus on zoology, ecology or genetics. Some programs may also specialize in a field like cell or molecular biology. In addition to biology courses, students can study subjects like:
- Cell biology
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 elements and molecules, chemical compounds, synthetic reactions, chemical bonds and lab safety.
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
- 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. Students are expected to complete foundational physics courses and choose electives, such as optics and nuclear physics. Some common courses in these programs may include:
- Thermal physics
- 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 18% from 2014-2024 (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 $152,700 as of May 2015.
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.
Undergraduate students interested in becoming dentists can pursue majors in biology, chemistry and physics to quality for entry to DMD or DDS programs. Courses in these majors are likely to include practical lab work and provide a solid foundation in math and the sciences.