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Preparing for a Career in Dentistry

If you are interested in pursuing a career in dentistry, you need to build a strong foundation in the sciences, and skills and abilities in a number of other areas as an undergraduate student. You should plan your college education with the goal of building a diverse set of skills, and select a major that challenges and interests you.

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Indiana University does not offer a "predental" major. Students preparing for dental school may select any major that interests them to combine with the required predental coursework. Predental students should select a major that interests them, allows them to build strong intellectual skills, and one that could provide opportunities for graduate work or employment if they choose not to pursue a career in dentistry.

Although predental students are free to select any major they must complete certain courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics to meet the requirements for admission to dental school. Some dental schools, including the IU School of Dentistry, also require students to complete courses in anatomy, biochemistry, English, physiology, and psychology. (For a listing of the courses that meet the admission requirements for dental school please see the predental coursework page).

A good dentist needs to have a strong foundation in the sciences, as well as good communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Advanced coursework in the humanities and social sciences can be very helpful for developing your intellectual skills in these latter areas.

Students who choose to major in the sciences should consider completing some advanced coursework (or a minor) in a humanities or social science field to stretch their analytical and communication skills. Students who choose to major in a nonscience field may wish to consider completing a few extra advanced courses (or a minor) in biology or chemistry to help them prepare for dental school. In addition, predental students need to develop excellent manual dexterity skills, which are essential to the practice of dentistry.

With increasing competition for admission to dental schools, the standards for admission have risen.  Students must meet very high academic standards and prepare systematically through extracurricular experiences in order to gain admission to dental school. 

For the entering class of 2015 at the Indiana University School of Dentistry the average overall GPA was 3.65 and the average science GPA was 3.48. The average DAT scores of the class were: Academic Average of 20.20; Perceptual Average of 19.94; and Total Science Average of 19.57.

The American Dental Association website has a great deal of useful information for students considering a career in dentistry.

Please also consult the website of the Indiana University School of Dentistry for information on their programs.

To learn more about predental preparation, please read the document Preparing for Dental School: A Guide for Freshmen and Sophomores.  This guide should be considered required reading for all predental students on the Indiana University Bloomington campus.

Advising appointments at the Health Professions and Prelaw Center are focused on helping students prepare for admission to professional school.  You should periodically meet with your assigned advisor (either a University Division advisor or an advisor in the academic department that offers your major) to plan your schedule and discuss how to best work admission prerequisites into your undergraduate degree plan.  Your assigned advisor has expertise on the curricular requirements for your degree and is the best person for you to consult on most questions regarding your class schedule to make sure you are making good academic progress.