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Requirements and Curriculum

Dental School Curriculum Requirements

Most predentistry students pursue a biology or chemistry major although a major in another discipline is possible after consultation with a predental 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 predental 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 predental 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). Predental faculty advisors are available to assist students in the application process.

Sample Predental Curriculum–Biology Major Plan

First year

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

Spring semester
Paideia I
General Chemistry or Principles of Biology
Religion
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
Religion
Elective or History course

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

Senior year

Fall semester
Human dissection and anatomy
Paideia II
Physiology
Senior project

Spring semester
Upper level biology
Biochemistry
Elective
Elective