Best Pre Dental Schools

Updated on January 3, 2024

Pre dental students have the opportunity to prepare for dental school at some of the top colleges and universities in the United States. When researching the best pre dental programs, it is important to look at factors like academics, hands-on training opportunities, admissions rates into dental school, and career support services. The following pre dental programs stand out for providing students with a robust education to ready them for the challenges of dental school.

Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, MA

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Avg SAT Score: 1510

Tuition: $53,949 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $76,542


Harvard University boasts an extremely competitive pre dental program, with the opportunity for students to earn a bachelor’s degree while satisfying all prerequisite courses for dental school. Popular majors for pre dental students include biological sciences or biochemistry. Harvard provides extensive research opportunities for undergraduates. Over 90% of students graduating from Harvard’s pre dental program get accepted to top dental schools across the country.

Columbia University

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 9.3/10

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Avg SAT Score: 1520

Tuition: $63,440 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $78,169


The pre dental program at Columbia guides students through the application process for dental school while allowing them to major in any subject, from engineering to English. Over 60% of students who complete the program get accepted to Ivy League dental schools, including Columbia, UPenn, and Harvard. Columbia connects students to research, job shadowing, and volunteer opportunities in NYC.

Duke University

Location: Durham, NC

Rating: 9.2/10

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Avg SAT Score: 1490

Tuition: $60,966 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $77,500


Duke University provides undergraduates with early exposure to dental school training through partnerships with the Duke School of Dentistry. Students receive guidance from pre dental advisors while pursuing any major of interest. Over 75% of Duke graduates who apply get accepted to dental school, with most matriculating at top 20 programs.

University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Avg SAT Score: 1480

Tuition: $63,036 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $72,567


UPenn’s coordinated pre dental program provides undergraduate students with dentistry training and research opportunities at Penn Dental Medicine. Students apply to dental school during junior year, increasing their chances of admission. Around 90% of coordinated program students get into dental school. UPenn is an Ivy League school providing access to a robust professional network.

Johns Hopkins University

Location: Baltimore, MD

Rating: 8.9/10

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Avg SAT Score: 1510

Tuition: $58,400 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $69,767


Johns Hopkins offers several accelerated programs allowing high school seniors to apply directly to dental school and bypass completing a 4-year undergraduate degree, saving both time and money. Over 75% of students in their traditional pre dental program get into competitive dental schools as well.

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Rating: 8.7/10

Acceptance Rate: 24%

Avg SAT Score: 1440

Tuition: $17,522 per year (in-state) | $53,400 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $61,948


The University of Michigan has an excellent College of Literature, Science, and Arts providing the undergraduate courses necessary for dental school admission. There are many opportunities to get involved in dental-related research projects. Over 60% of students who apply get into University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry.

Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, IL

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 10%

Avg SAT Score: 1480

Tuition: $60,954 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $69,200


Northwestern University has an accelerated program that allows students to apply to dental school after 2 to 3 years of undergraduate coursework instead of completing a bachelor’s degree. Northwestern’s academic rigor and hands-on clinical experience through partnerships with regional dental clinics prepares students to succeed in top ranked dental schools across the US.

University of California – Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Rating: 8.3/10

Acceptance Rate: 12%

Avg SAT Score: 1370

Tuition: $13,240 per year (in-state) | $44,007 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $65,100


UCLA’s Office of Pre-Health Advising provides personalized counseling, application assistance, workshops, volunteer programs, and other resources to help prepare competitive dental school applicants. Many students gain dental experience through UCLA Mobile Dental Clinic assisting dentists in underserved communities. Over 55% of UCLA pre dental students get into US dental schools.

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 24%

Avg SAT Score: 1370

Tuition: $9,018 per year (in-state) | $37,210 per year (out-of-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $54,800


UNC Chapel Hill has a cooperative program with UNC School of Dentistry offering guaranteed interviews and access to dentistry faculty advisors. Students receive priority consideration for UNC Dental School if they maintain a 3.5+ GPA. Over 50% of UNC pre dental students get into dental school, many at top 10 programs.

Boston University

Location: Boston, MA

Rating: 7.8/10

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Avg SAT Score: 1390

Tuition: $58,928 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $62,350


Boston University’s 7 year program (4 undergrad + 3 dental school) offers early admission to BU’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. Competitive applicants with a science GPA of 3.5+ and DAT scores of 19+ have an excellent chance of getting into BU’s dental school through this program.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What GPA and DAT score do you need for dental school?

Most dental schools have average accepted GPAs of 3.5 or higher and DAT scores around 20. However, it varies by program. Shoot for the highest GPA possible and prepare thoroughly for the Dental Admissions Test.

Do you need a bachelor’s degree for dental school?

While a small number of special programs allow students to enter dental school early, the majority of dental schools require candidates to complete a bachelor’s degree (4 years of undergraduate study).

How do I gain dental experience as an undergrad?

Great options include shadowing dentists, volunteering at dental clinics, participating in dental research studies, and working or interning at a dental office – often through connections facilitated by your college pre dental advisor.

Should I specialize when applying to dental school?

No – as a pre dental student you want to complete all the prerequisites, get good grades, and focus on building well-rounded leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills through your activities. Specialization happens in dental school.

What major is best for dental school?

There is no single “best” major. Dental schools accept students from all academic backgrounds. Choose a major aligned with your academic strengths and interests. Common majors are biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, and health sciences.

Is taking a year off before dental school a good idea?

It can be! Taking a gap year to gain more dental or research experience and strengthen your application is generally looked upon favorably. Just make sure to stay engaged academically as well.

How much does dental school cost?

The total cost for a dental school education ranges between $200,000 to $300,000 on average when considering tuition, fees, living expenses, supplies, etc. However, most dental students utilize financial aid packages to significantly lower costs.

Should I apply to dental school during junior or senior year?

Most students apply during the summer after junior year once spring grades are finalized. This allows time to prepare applications thoroughly and apply early while focusing on academics senior year.

Can I go to dental school internationally?

Yes – there are over 300 dental schools located abroad with varying admissions standards and degrees of program quality/accreditation. Be sure to understand requirements to practice dentistry in your target country.

Is getting into dental school competitive?

Yes, acceptance rates at U.S. dental schools are competitive, averaging 6-15% nationally. Putting together a strong application and having backup options are important when applying to dental school.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.

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