Do you have an interest in entering a health profession that involves direct patient care and requires precision and fine hand skills? If so, you may want to pursue dentistry. In the past several years, quite a few Luther students have been admitted to dental schools.

Dental School Curriculum Requirements

Most pre-dentistry students pursue a biology or chemistry major although a major in another discipline is possible after consultation with a pre-dental advisor. Most dental schools prefer that applicants have a baccalaureate degree. However, some dental schools offer a deferred admit program (DAP) that allows highly qualified students to enter dental school after completing 90 hours (three years) of undergraduate study. Students participating in a deferred admit program receive a BA from Luther after successfully completing their first year of dental school.

The 59 dental schools in the United States require a basic lab science curriculum including:

  • one year of general biology (Biology 151-152)
  • one year of general chemistry (Chemistry 151-152)
  • one year of organic chemistry (Chemistry 241-242)
  • one year of general physics (Physics 151-152)

Other courses that may be required include biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, psychology, and English composition.

Internship and Shadowing Opportunities

Luther grants academic credit for health-career internships (Biology 380B). Most internship experiences are arranged during January term. Internships are primarily observational, but they provide a very practical introduction to the dentistry profession. Many students also shadow group or individual dental practices in Decorah during the semester. Although shadowing experience is not formalized and does not receive academic credit, it is an excellent way to become familiar with various aspects of dentistry. Most dental schools expect applicants to have considerable observation experience with dentists.

Dental School Application Requirements

Dental schools require pre-dental students to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). This exam has four components: natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. The DAT is usually taken during the summer between the junior and senior years of college. It is administered at computer testing centers most days of the year.

Most pre-dental students apply for admission to dental school during the summer between their junior and senior years. Application is done on computer to AADSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service). Pre-dental faculty advisors are available to assist students in the application process.

Sample Pre-Dental Curriculum: Biology Major Plan

First Year

Fall semester
Paideia I (English and history)
General Chemistry or Principles of Biology
Foreign language
Personal Fitness and Wellness

Spring semester
Paideia I
General Chemistry or Principles of Biology
Additional mathematics, foreign language or elective
Physical Education Skills

Sophomore Year

Fall semester
Principles of Biology or General Chemistry
Organic Chemistry or Microbiology
Human Behavior course such as psychology
Human Expression course

Spring semester
Principles of Biology or General Chemistry
Organic Chemistry or Upper level biology
Human Behavior course
Elective or Intercultural course

Junior Year

Fall semester
General Physics
Microbiology or Organic Chemistry
Elective or History course

Spring semester
General Physics
Upper level biology or Organic Chemistry
Human Expression course such as English composition

Senior Year

Fall semester
Human dissection and anatomy
Paideia II
Senior project

Spring semester
Upper level biology

Chew on This

The  U.S. News & World Report  listed Dentist as the #1 profession in its “100 Best Jobs” list in 2015.